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chapter 1:

 

The Chimeara holds a blockade position over the planet Myrkr as Captain Pellaeon waits for Grand Admiral Thrawn to give the order to attack. It’s been a year since Thrawn took command of the Chimeara and began rebuilding the Imperial Fleet. Since that time, Pellaeon has seen his tactical genius demonstrated repeatedly.

 

Thrawn knows he’s wondering why the attack hasn’t begun yet. The Grand Admiral has sent spies to Hyllyard City to see if Talon Karrde has a network there that could lead them to Karrde himself.

 

He expects to find the base itself abandoned anyway. They will attack it because it’s possible Karrde left behind some important information in his haste, to try to locate his contacts in the village and to give their troops some field experience. They are no longer going to be retreating as they have within the past few years. Having possession of Mount Tantiss and the Emperor’s collection of Spaarti cylinders gives them an advantage.

 

He activates his comm. and orders Pellaeon to tell General Covell to launch the attack.

 

Covell’s men use walkers to get through the forest where they find the abandoned buildings of what was Karrde’s smuggling operations. Only junk is left behind and the only life forms are the ysalamiri Thrawn’s been making a big deal out of.

 

Aboard the Wild Karrde, the Admiral’s voice can be heard ordering the dismantling of the base. Mara is anxious to get going but Karrde would rather wait to make sure nothing was left behind that will point them to the Rishi base.

 

Hiding behind an asteroid is the oldest trick in the book, but Karrde is betting that Thrawn won’t even consider that he would be skulking in the system rather than fleeing for his life as fast as he can. So they wait and watch.

 

The scanning crew finds nothing on Myrkr but there was a bit of a twitch in communications at Hyllyard City. Thrawn orders a mid-range scan of the system and points out an asteroid nearby that is really the only place Karrde can watch from safely.

 

He’s met Karrde and seen the artwork he collects. Thrawn has determined that Karrde is a man who loves information, so he will want to know what has or hasn’t been found here. Pellaeon realizes that Thrawn sent a message to the rest of the Fleet when he activated his comm.. Karrde will be expecting an attack from the Chimaera, not from the Constrainer which will be here in ten minutes.

 

Aboard the Wild Karrde, Mara is getting more ansty. She knows something is up. Karrde’s pet vornskrs are just as anxious, staring at Mara the same way their wild counterparts on Myrkr had focused on Skywalker in the forest.

 

Abruptly, Mara ignites the engines, knowing it will set off alarms on the Chimaera, but insists there’s an attack coming. Nothing happens. With no other choice, they try to keep the ship between the asteroid and the Star Destroyer. Mara feels embarrassed, knowing she’d listened to her inner feelings and tried to do things she couldn’t do. As a result, she may have jeopardized them all.

 

Then an Interdictor Cruiser appears and the Chimaera launches TIEs. Staying clear of the Interdictor’s gravity well, the Wild Karrde jumps to lightspeed before being trapped.

 

Karrde and Aves are grateful for her hunches, but Mara dreads it. The feelings and the urges are coming back. That means the dreams will, too. There’d been nothing she could do about it before when she slogged through the galaxy serving in cantinas or working as a mechanic. She has mobility now. Enough to hunt down Skywalker, kill him and end the dreams for good.

 

Thrawn notes that the ship powered up before the Constrainer arrived. This means Karrde was about to leave anyway, panicked for some other reason or someone warned him. It couldn’t have been anyone on the Chimaera or Constrainer as crews on either ship would have had no idea what was going on. For now, they’ll have to work on acquiring more warships.

 

Pellaeon reports that the invitations they’ve sent out have had no commitments among them. Thrawn will give them more time to consider before he makes the offer mandatory.

 

Pellaeon also mentions there’s been another communication from Jomark. Thrawn wants Pellaeon to warn Master C’baoth that constantly contacting the Chimaera is jeopardizing the plan as they do not want the Rebels to connect the two. Pellaeon has already advised C’baoth of this many times already, but the mad clone of a deceased Jedi Master is insistent that Skywalker will come to him and is irritated that Thrawn hasn’t followed through on his promise to deliver Leia Organa Solo to him.

 

Thrawn tells him to let C’baoth know that the Tanaab operation will be his last for the time being. They've caused some problems on Coruscant that will keep Skywalker busy for a couple of weeks. Thrawn himself will deal with capturing his sister. Pellaeon is concerned that the Noghri will not like being left out. The Grand Admiral reminds him that the Noghri are loyal to him personally and will do what they’re told. For now, he wants some of Covell’s men transferred to Wayland and set up a long-term team for Hyllyard City so they’ll be able to track Karrde when he finally stops running.

 

Joruus C’baoth waits on the world of Jomark, his past a blur, his fortress unimpressive. This world is not Wayland which Grand Admiral Thrawn had taken from him after C’baoth had killed the Dark Jedi left by the Emperor to guard it. Now he waits on Jomark for Luke Skywalker.

 

There are flickers in the Force. He has felt them in the past as if someone who had once knew how to use the Force forgot. He doesn’t understand it but waits for the shuttle to take him to Tanaab to coordinate another Imperial attack. These battles take a lot out of him as they require so much concentration.

 

It will be worth it when he has his Jedi.
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  • Mara Jade had been trained since childhood to use the Force. There was no doubt that she could use it in Allegiance and Choices of One. Did she give it up during the last five years? I can’t imagine why as it would have been useful in helping her get jobs other than serving in cantinas.
  • We’ve seen in the past that someone who stops using the Force does have problems connecting to it again after a long period of time so this very well could have happened to Mara. Perhaps she felt using it exposed her to these dreams and stopped for that reason? At least, we are going to have to interpret it this way because, the last book read as if Mara was kind of Force-sensitive but was only trained as an agent who could communicate telepathically with the Emperor. Obviously, this is not the Mara we’ve seen in previous books.
  • Also, this Dark Jedi the Emperor left on Wayland to guard his storehouse intrigues me. We know that Palpatine often utilized other Force-sensitives as foils for Vader. Vader himself suspected that Palpatine continued to look for an apprentice with an intact body to replace him. That is certainly a possibility. Yet he didn’t seem to do that with Mara or this mysterious Dark Jedi.
  • Thrawn took over command of Chimaera a year ago, eh? I had been under the impression that he would have contacted Pellaeon right after the Battle of Endor. I wonder what took him so long?
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chapter 2:

 

Wedge apologizes to Luke as the Sluissi are fixated on repairing the ships in the yards rather than his X-Wing. He knows Luke wants to get back to Coruscant to help Admiral Ackbar, but he’s only one person. Even a Jedi can’t do everything.

 

The same treatment is being given to Lando Calrissian, who is low on the treatment list after being injured on Myrkr. For now, Luke is going to try to push the medics a little harder. As it is, he’s afraid to do anything to get rules bent for him because it might be more ammunition Councilor Borsk Fey’lya can use. This is why he leaves politics to Leia.

 

He finds Lando huffing over the price of hfredium which he’s been stockpiling lately. At least, the New Republic will return the stolen mole miners to him. He can also smell smoke on Luke. The scent is specific to a human named Niles Ferrier who smokes a blend just like it.

 

Luke recalls seeing a man who matches Lando’s description, rewinding and forwarding recent images in his mind as Yoda had taught him. Ferrier is a spaceship thief and Luke knows he’s headed to one of the repair stations.

 

They find the place deserted which, Lando assures him, is one of Ferrier’s tactics to clear an area of witnesses. There are several humans and two aliens ahead. Luke blocks a blaster bolt with his lightsaber.

 

They grab one of the aliens – a Verpine – and Lando warns Ferrier he’s dealing with a Jedi. First Lando wants to know if he was in on the Sluis Van attack. Ferrier explains that the Empire has put out a bounty on warships.

 

Lando suggests they try the Amorris system where the Cavrilhu pirate gang has a base. They would appreciate the extra muscle, too, including the Wraith, also known as a Defel, which absorbs all visible light. Right now, the Republic cannot afford losing any more ships. They’ll give him some time to get off the base before reporting him to the authorities after confiscating his slicer access codes.

 

Lando believes they should let Coruscant know that the Empire is looking for extra warships. Of course, Fey’lya’s group is also trying to take over Intelligence. Lando decides to use the slicer codes to bump Luke’s X-Wing up on the priority list before handing them over to the Sluissi.

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  • That thing Luke did with his memory is kind of cool. It reminds me of Attention-To-The-Moment-Gives-Knowledge thing the Jedi padawans were taught in the Jude Watson books.
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chapter 3:

 

Han greets Leia on Coruscant where he’s told that Fey’lya isn’t pushing too aggressively yet.

 

Apparently, there was a break-in at the central clearing bank on Coruscant the morning Sluis Van was attacked. Several large accounts were hit with one of Ackbar’s accounts getting a huge transfer from a bank on Palanhi which has been neutral in the hopes of profiting from both sides of the war.

 

The Palanhis insist the money didn’t come from them so it probably came through them. This is causing some to suspect Ackbar is being funded from some unknown source, probably the Empire. The fact that it was Ackbar who sent most of the warships to Sluis Van in the first place doesn’t make it any better. Since Han is the first person back who was personally at the attack, the Provisional Council wants to speak with him immediately.

 

He finds that the Council chambers have been redone so that Mon Mothma sits alone in front with the Councilors and their aides clustered in small groups. Leia tells him this downplays any concerns that Fey’lya’s trying to take over while isolating the Councilors from each other.

 

Mon Mothma asks him to describe what happened. Han relates how he brought the Falcon out of hyperspace after the attack started and found that the Empire had smuggled in about 40 TIEs and several stolen mole miners. After the Star Destroyers arrived, he determined the miners were being used to steal New Republic capital ships.

 

He’s wary when Fey’lya compliments both him and Lando Calrissian for stopping the theft. The Bothan Councilor soon points the finger at Ackbar for sending the ships there in the first place and for failing to find the leak in their communications. Han challenges the ability of anyone to fight a Grand Admiral easily.

 

The Council is surprised as all of the Grand Admirals had been accounted for. Han explains that he saw an alien with blue skin and red eyes wearing the white uniform of a Grand Admiral. Further, that’s how his source described the officer.

 

Fey’lya believes this is just another Imperial official who’s promoted himself. After all, the Emperor’s prejudice against non-humans was well known. Mon Mothma does direct research to be done to determine if an actual Grand Admiral has been missed.

 

Admiral Ackbar, under house arrest in his quarters, believes that a Grand Admiral explains everything. Research won’t find anything as he already checked when Coruscant was taken by the Alliance. It’s not like the Emperor didn’t like his secrets.

 

Han isn’t revealing his source as he doesn’t even know where the group is now. But there’s a ship he promised to get out of impoundment for them, so he’ll start there.

 

Leia explains that Wedge told them the TIEs came from a freighter that registered empty. Ackbar realizes they’ve finally developed a cloaking shield. It’s dangerous to the user as well, but a Grand Admiral could still be very dangerous with one.

 

He urges her to find a way to clear him of these charges. Fey’lya does not have the tactical skills to be Supreme Commander. He thanks both of them for coming when their time is up.

 

On the way out, Han grouses about how Ackbar has never forgiven him or Lando for leaving the service. Leia reminds him that the Mon Calamari were never warlike until they were oppressed by the Empire. Ackbar is probably just sorry his peaceful people had to turn to warfare in the first place.

 

He asks why she left Kashyyyk. She admits there was another attack but doesn’t want to discuss the details in this corridor. She assures him she’s made arrangements to keep herself safe.
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  • You know, I realize the Grand Admirals were few because they were the best and the brightest, but I’m getting kind of tired of everyone acting like they’re the be all and end all of tacticians. Yeah, Thrawn is really good at what he does, but, if I read one more, “A Grand Admiral! No wonder we’re getting our tails kicked!” statement, I think I’ll scream.
  • Han points out that Ackbar is barely civil to Han and Lando, but what about Luke? Luke resigned his commission a few years ago.
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chapter 4:

 

At the Senate library, Luke searches for Jorus C’baoth, irritated that the Galactic Empire had changed the dating system used by the Old Republic. He learns that C’baoth was born on Bortras, attended a university, as well as the Jedi training center on Kamparas, began private Jedi training under an unknown instructor before being granted the title of Jedi Knight. He assumed the title of Jedi Master later.

 

The record also lists a couple of his accomplishments on top of his being personal Jedi Adviser to Senator Palpatine. The details of that are unavailable. However, C’baoth helped put down a Dark Jedi insurrection on Bpfassh, served as an ambassador and was instrumental in getting funding for the Outbound Flight project for which he was one of six Jedi Masters participating.

 

Winter appears and recognizes C’baoth’s name as a Jedi who helped resolve the ascendancy issue on Alderaan that put gave the role of Viceroy to Bail Organa’s father. C’baoth would have been around 40 at the time, given how he looked in the picture.

 

He wonders how long the people of Bortras live because the dating in the records would indicate C’baoth should be over a hundred by now. For a human, that’s unusual. She suggests that a Jedi might have techniques that allow him to prolong his life.

 

He tells her that he had a short contact with a Jedi while on Nkllon and wondered if rumors of C’baoth’s presence on Jomark are related. Winter isn’t sure that’s the case. She’s gotten the impression, from what she’d read about him, that he was the type of person who loved being in control. Someone like that wouldn’t have hidden from the Empire.

 

Luke turns the subject to the Outbound Flight project. Winter remembers it as an attempt to search for life outside the galaxy, but a lot of was done behind the scenes and she doesn’t even know if the project was ever actually launched. If C’baoth was attached to it, it could explain his absence for so long but doesn’t explain what happened to him or how he got back.

 

Luke may have to go to Jomark and ask him.

 

He meets Han and Leia to discuss the Ackbar situation. Han wonders if Fey’lya’s guilty of what he’s accusing Ackbar of. After all, he launched this investigation as soon as the attack happened. While they really can’t start hurling accusations against the Bothan, Luke points out that he’s up to something so they should find out what it is.

 

Leia has gone through his records from when he and his group joined the Rebel Alliance just after Yavin. He was involved in some minor businesses prior to that. Han thinks they should look into his business dealings, especially the ones that are quiet.

 

He suggests they look into battles where Fey’lya’s people saw a lot of action on a voluntary basis.

 

Leia finds a short but violent battle near New Cov. It’s not listed as part of any of Fey’lya’s business dealings, though. Han thinks that’s exactly where they start searching. The Bothans didn’t really do much during the war so, if they took part in a battle, they were protecting something.

 

Han wants to take Luke and find out what’s at New Cov. Chewbacca, on the other hand, has information of his own. Han is unhappy to find out what Leia has promised. Sensing an argument coming, Luke and Chewie make their exit.

 

Chewie had explained that Leia had promised to meet a representative of the Noghri on their homeworld. Leia tries to tell Han that her being Darth Vader’s daughter seems very important to them and it may be the leverage she needs to get them to change sides.

 

The alternative is to hide herself and their children behind bodyguards and give up any chance of a normal life.

 

He insists she take the Falcon so that she will at least have a fast ship. When he opens the door and finds an angry Chewie there, he insists that he doesn’t like it either. The Wookiee offers to go with her, but she reminds him she promised Khabarakh she’d come alone.

 

Han thinks it might be a good idea, though. Chewie can pilot the ship as far as the rendezvous point. She agrees and will take 3PO, too, in case the other Noghri do not speak Basic.
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  • While it’s not impossible that the Old Republic Jedi had other training centers, the only one we knew about during C’baoth’s time was the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. It’s unlikely he was trained anywhere else as it is also unlikely he attended a university. The statements seem to indicate that the author thought Jedi were trained upon reaching adulthood and echoes Luke’s thoughts in The Courtship of Princess Leia when he felt a girl of about 16 was too young for Jedi training.
  • There has been nothing in the previous novels, including Darth Plagueis, that indicated C’baoth had any type of advisory relationship with Senator Palpatine.
  • While Jedi did serve as temporary ambassadors, the chapter said C’baoth was an ambassador at large. Does this indicate that C’baoth had some kind of official, permanent position?
  • Further, Luke says the dating would indicate C’baoth’s current age at over 100. First, this isn’t necessarily impossible. C’baoth could have been around 60 or so at the time of the Outbound Flight project and that could make him 100 by now. However, I find it unusual that Luke would think humans living to that age as atypical. We’ve run into several examples of humans in the SW universe who have reached triple digits.
  • This Dark Jedi battle on Bpfassh concerned me when brought up in Heir to the Empire. Now, to find out that C’baoth was part of a group of Jedi involved in it is intriguing, especially as one would think that the possibility of Dark Jedi would not be so foreign to the Jedi Order around the time of the Clone Wars if something had happened relatively recently.
  • Also, Bail Organa married the Queen of Alderaan. I wasn’t aware he had a royal title of his own. And if C’baoth was around 40 when he resolved the ascendancy issue, then it’s likely he did so after Bail was born which meant that his father attained the title when he was an adult. I think this is another example of the timeline being pushed back further than it actually ended up being.
  • I’m sure Palpatine was instrumental in burying the Outbound Flight project after it disappeared. I’m rather surprised, though, that there wasn’t any media attention given to it when it launched. Surely, there would still be some records of it.
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chapter 5:

 

Mara doesn’t think much of their current hideout in the middle of a swamp world. Very few places to build mean they are crowded together. That would be a good cover for Imperial spies. Karrde isn’t too concerned about that unless Mara can give him a good reason.

 

She tells him she can’t turn it on and off like a switch anymore. He asks her if she’s had some kind of Jedi training. She’d rather learn about the capital ships he was careful not to tell Thrawn about back on Myrkr.

 

He asks if she’s ever heard of the Katana fleet. She remembers that it was a group of about 200 heavy cruisers that was lost about 10 years before the Clone Wars after their slave rigging malfunctioned and they jumped to lightspeed together.

 

The Old Republic had painted the hulls dark gray, giving it the nickname “Dark Force”, as part of a huge public relations ploy. The malfunction occurred after the ships picked up a hive-virus at the first port of call and it spread through the entire Fleet when activated. The virus drove the crewers insane before killing them, but not before they slaved all the ships together.

 

Mara remembers that’s when decentralization began, moving from all-powerful computers to individual droids.

 

Searching for it was a popular thing to do in the day but the Republic soon had bigger problems to deal with. Scam artists will occasionally try to sell someone a map but space is too big for anyone to realistically think they’ll find it.

 

She wants to know how he did.

 

Karrde explains that, 15 years ago, he was working as a navigator for a smuggling group on a job that didn’t go well and required a quick exit. He didn’t have time to do complete lightspeed calculation and the ship found itself in the presence of two fully-functional Dreadnought-class ships just sitting there.

 

The captain, assuming that it was part of the Imperial pursuers, made another jump to get out of there. There are six of them still living but he doesn’t think any of them realized what they’d found. He himself didn’t until days later. He memorized the coordinates and then erased them from the ship’s memory.

 

He’s thought of going back and doing something with them but two hundred ships will require a great deal of preparation even with markets for them. She reminds him the Imperials are offering a 20% bonus for capital ships.

 

Karrde is in the same position as he was with Skywalker. While the New Republic will likely win in the end, the Empire can exact quick retribution. He thinks he should remain neutral. Mara points out that Thrawn might stop hunting him if he turns over the Fleet.

 

Karrde doesn’t think Thrawn has any idea where they are and has better things to do than obsessively pursue a smuggler. Mara can’t help remembering how even the Emperor would take time to take vengeance.

 

She is sent to get some camo netting for their hideout when she runs afoul of someone who’s been watching Karrde’s people. He knows who she is and is planning to run them in for a reward. Mara had been given training in manipulating the Force but all of that vanished when the Emperor died. If her hunches and urges are coming back, then the power might be, too.

 

She pulls a piece of shield tubing down which distracts him long enough for her to pull her own blaster and shoot him. The ID tags belong to Dengar Roth, the bounty hunter. She returns to the hideout and tells Karrde what happened. They pack up and the entire operation is off Rishi shortly after midnight. That night, in hyperspace, the dreams start again.

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  • Does this mean that Dengar returned to bounty hunting after going to find Manaroo?
  • So it would appear that Mara was trained in the Force but the Emperor seemed to augment that power to a certain degree so that she lost it when he died. Either that or the emotional trauma of his death caused some kind of subconscious decision to stop using the Force. It could be similar to the disillusionment some of the Jedi, such as Roan Shryne, experienced toward the end of the Clone Wars when their powers weren’t as readily available to them.
  • This virus experienced is called a Hive Virus and seems to be a medical one that lay dormant until it started hitting all the crewmen at once. So it wasn’t so much a technical problem with the equipment as it was a medical problem. Odd, then, that slave-rigged ships have such a bad reputation. I suppose fearing that your crew will go mad and take all your ships away is not unprecedented but certainly not likely to happen a lot.
  • Ten years before the Clone Wars would be about the time of TPM. I don’t recall much mention of the slave-rigged ships in any of the post-TPM novels. Further, wouldn’t those ships be considered a type of military? I thought the Republic didn’t have one of those back then? Unless, we’re just chalking the ships up to the Judicials or the so-called Republic Space Corps.
  • I’m gonna go ahead and speculate, however, that the disaster was orchestrated by Palpatine!
  • And, as for a movement away from decentralized computers….well, I’m not convinced of that. The Trade Federation was already using battle droids, but they were controlled by a central computer on a control ship. That really didn’t change after TPM.
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chapter 6:

 

Thrawn notes the use of New Republic bulk cruisers as starfighter carriers. This was proposed 20 years ago, so this may be evidence of a change in tactics after Ackbar’s removal as Supreme Commander.

 

Pelleaon reminds him that Ackbar’s people are still in charge. Thrawn isn’t too concerned about this.

 

They couldn’t put an airtight case against Ackbar without arousing suspicion. Allowing this investigation to drag on will create more divisions and distract the New Republic while the Mount Tantiss project continues. His studies of Bothan art have told him that Councilor Fey’lya will play the part as if they were pulling his strings themselves.

 

Fortunately, while Fey’lya is intelligent, that doesn’t mean he’s a good tactician. Besides, they already have evidence of internal strife as Solo has gone to Palanhi to try to clear Ackbar, having been led to believe the trail goes through there. The Death’s-Head will be there shortly.

 

Meanwhile, he expects Solo’s wife and the Wookiee are still looking for a place to hide from the Noghri. It would appear that Master C’baoth’s admonitions are true as Skywalker is headed to Jomark.

 

That bit of information came from Delta Source. Imperial Intelligence isn’t clear on what Delta Source is and Thrawn isn’t talking. But it’s very reliable. As for C’baoth, Thrawn can tell that Pellaeon is irritated, still, about the incident on Tanaab. Pellaeon believes that C’baoth deliberately went beyond the battle plans.

 

Thrawn understands this but reminds the captain that they have to bend the rules for the Jedi sometimes or risk losing his assistance. Pellaeon wonders what will happen when too many rules are bent. Thrawn maintains that the ysalamiri will help with that. He assures Pellaeon that C’baoth’s instablities cannot be a threat to them because he’s not capable of using his power for very long.

 

As for C’baoth’s predictable inquiry into Leia Organa Solo, Thrawn will be taking the offer of one last chance to capture her to the Noghri personally. They will be headed to the Honoghr system.

 

In the meantime, they’ve had five more ships turned in and no more tips on Karrde since the bounty hunter on Rishi. He wants their people watching for the Millennium Falcon and the Lady Luck, while continuing to harass Republic shipping.

 

On Jomark, C’baoth waits for Luke Skywalker to come to him, ready to prove to Grand Admiral Thrawn that he’s capable of taking on challenges.
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  • I’m with Pellaeon on this C’baoth thing. He cannot use the Force in the presence of the ysalamiri, so that would lead me to believe that the creatures aren’t being used in his presence while he’s coordinating battles. So what happens if he goes berserk at that time and there are no ysalamari to contain him?
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chapter 7:

 

Above Endor, they wait for Khabarakh to arrive. While passing through the position where the Death Star blew up, Leia passes out. After she regains consciousness, she vows not to let this place intimidate her.

 

After landing on New Cov, Han assures Lando he can go as he’s going to meet Luke at a café called the Mishra. Lando isn’t convinced that he is just allowed to leave like that, but Han mentions that he can go or he can stay and unload some metal, such as hfredium. Lando realizes Luke told Han about the stockpile problem.

 

They are interrupted by Han’s sighting of one of Fey’lya’s top aides, Tav Breil’lya, so Solo decides to follow him. He sends Lando to go find Luke.

 

Unfortunately, a spotter gets the drop on Han before he can find out exactly what Breil’lya is up to. She is about to march him off when sirens start going off.

 

At the Mishra, Luke sips his drink when a fight between a Barabel and a Rodian starts. The Barabel shoots a servant droid before the bartender gets involved and then asks for the Jedi’s help at resolving the problem.

 

Luke would rather stay out of it, but his status as a Jedi Knight seems to involve a great deal of trust in his judgment among the locals here. After forcing them to relinquish their weapons, Luke determines that the problem involves the Rodian hiring the Barabel to track down an animal nest for him. The Barabel did that, but the Rodian paid him in new Imperial scrip that can only be spent on Imperial-held worlds and stations. The Rodian claims he was paid that way.

 

Lando appears and helps translate. The Rodian cannot convert the credits into anything else and there’s no official rate of exchange. Luke asks if there’s an unofficial one. Lando tries to find anyone who would do business with both New Republic and Empire, but no one will admit to that.

 

Smelling something familiar, though, Luke calls for Niles Ferrier who appears from the crowd. He would really rather not help, but finally gives in and reveals a five to four exchange rate. The Rodian doesn’t have that much in New Republic currency.

 

Luke suggests that Ferrier, who does business on both sides, exchange currency with the Rodian so that he will have what he needs to pay the Barabel. Ferrier doesn’t want to do that either, but he is outnumbered by those who value Luke’s opinion. The Barabel deserves his full fee, but he’s not likely to get it. However, Luke reminds him that he can always spread the word about dealing with this particular Rodian.

 

Unfortunately, the Barabel will have to pay for the droid he shot. The Rodian isn’t responsible for that. The Barabel acknowledges the truth of this and accepts. Luke realizes being a Jedi may mean bargaining in situations like this.

 

Lando explains that Han is following one of Fey’lya’s aides when an alarm sounds. One of the patrons tells them that the Empire is raiding them again. Knowing that the Lady Luck and the X-Wing will cause them problems, they start to contact Han. Realizing that Han could be uncovering evidence that Fey’lya is working with the Empire, however, Luke decides to go find him personally. Lando should try to eliminate records of their presence here, if he can.

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chapter 8:

 

Han is taken to a woman called Sena who checks his ID. Breil’lya insists he’s an Imperial imposter and his persistence in trying to convince her to kill Solo makes her suspicious enough to delay action.

 

The debate ends when one of their spotters notices a man matching the description of Luke Skywalker on his way. Sena returns Han’s weapons and other possessions, explaining they have to be careful with the Imperials here. She tells him this is a raid, but a fairly benign one. The government here has agreed to give the Empire a percentage of refined molecules as a form of taxation.

 

Han is concerned that their normal procedure may not be followed if they realize Han and his friends are down here. Sena sends Breil’lya off on her ship and offers Luke and Han rides on hers. They do not want to leave Lando’s ship or Artoo here, though.

 

Sena receives instructions from an unnamed commander to assist them in getting out of here. She sends the original spotter, Irenez, to guide them through a service shaft near the landing area. They comm. Lando who is hiding behind a stack of crates with a stormtrooper nearby him. There seems to be an entire task force arriving. Han asks if the beckon call is still set up on the Lady Luck. He wants Lando to get it moving on Han’s signal.

 

He, Luke and Irenez head toward the X-Wing. Artoo has already been fit with a restraining bolt. The Lady Luck begins moving, drawing blasterfire, toward Lando’s hiding place. Luke jumps onto the X-Wing, ignites his lightsaber and cuts off the restraining bolt. Then he gets into the ship and Artoo activates the engines. Han has Lando shut his own ship down.

 

Artoo had been recording the beckon call so reproduces it and the ship flies right back. The stormtroopers on the ground are confused, but follow. Luke pulls the ship into the air and starts firing. Han yells for Irenez to get aboard the Luck, he jumps into the pilot’s seat and flies it over to Lando’s position.

 

Both ships take down the four TIEs waiting on the outskirts of the city. They evade the drop ships, but will still have to deal with the Star Destroyer. They are joined by Irenez’s ship coming out of the jungle.

 

Han asks if Luke can scramble the pilots’ minds like he did on Nkllon. Luke doesn’t think it’s something he should be doing. More TIEs head toward them. That’s when Sena’s group brings up three Dreadnaught cruisers. This provides cover for Luke to jump to lightspeed.

 

Irenez tells Han that they could go to their base. The commander would like to see Han again. Lando suggests that someone who seems to be doing business with one of Fey’lya’s aides may know what he’s up to.

 

After making his jump, Luke tells Artoo they are going to Jomark to see a Jedi Master.

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chapter 9:

 

Khabarakh arrives and greets the Lady Vader. Leia tells him Chewbacca piloted but will stay here with the ship. She wants to bring her droid along to help with translation, along with her lightsaber, clothing and other personal items and a sensor analyzer package.

 

The Noghri assures her the air and soil will be safe for her, but she tells him she is also responsible for the lives of her unborn children. Khabarakh agrees to allow the items to be brought and, upon learning Chewbacca has a life debt to her family, offers to allow the Wookiee to come, too.

 

The trip takes four days and she gets the feeling that the Noghri is worried about bringing her to his homeworld. The world itself is devoid of all color, a uniform brown all over. She knew it had been harmed but hadn’t realized the entire planet was devastated. She realizes how Vader and the Emperor were able to manipulate the Noghri into serving them. The Rebel Alliance shares responsibility for this.

 

Chewbacca is about to kill Khabarakh when they spot an Imperial Star Destroyer in orbit. He assures both Leia and the Wookiee that he did not betray them, but cannot convince Chewbacca. He must give the recognition signal or else they will be in trouble, but Chewie will not be quiet for him to do so. Khabarakh is finally forced to use the ship’s weapons to stun the Wookiee and give the recognition signal.

 

He had planned on taking her to the city of Nystao but the Grand Admiral has arrived. He remembers the day Lord Vader had brought the admiral here and told them that his full attention was now needed on the Emperor’s enemies. Many were sad as Vader had been the only one who’d tried to help them.

 

He will take her to his clan village and hide her until the Grand Admiral leaves.

 

Pellaeon is trying not to be bored during this ceremony. While Thrawn receives the honorifics, Lt. Tschel whispers in Pellaeon’s ear that a ship claiming technical issues delayed giving the recognition signal in time and didn’t put down in the city where the ship could be repaired.

 

It was piloted by Khabarakh of clan Kihm’bar. Thrawn finds this interested, particularly once he learns that the ship was static-dumped which prevents scans. He wants the ship to land, but to have a tech team meet them at the destination.

 

He asks for Ir’khaim from the clan Kihm’bar, tells him one of his people has come home and they will go meet him. Thrawn tells Pellaeon that Khabarakh was a member of the team sent to Kashyyyk and was the only survivor. He would like to know more about that mission, why it’s taken so long for him to return home and why he’s trying to avoid them.

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  • I see Lt. Tschel has learned not to shout routine messages in the general direction of the recipient!
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chapter 10:

 

After landing, Khabarakh tells Leia and Chewie to wait outside the ship while he advises his clan-leaders of the visitors. Chewbacca gets impatient waiting and, still suspicious, heads back into the ship.

 

Khabarakh returns the takes Leia and 3PO to his maitrakh who greets Leia but does not welcome her. Leia neither served the Emperor nor serves the Grand Admiral which will bring discord to their world of Honoghr that isn’t needed.

 

Chewbacca appears and explains there are two shuttles on the way here. Khabarakh leads them away as the maitrakh has agreed to hide them for now. He will hide the living beings in the bake house where the heat might tamper with Imperial sensors. The droid will be put among the decontamination droids.

 

Thrawn sets the technical team to examine the ship and confronts Khabarakh among the Noghri of his clan. Khabarakh explains he was knocked unconscious during the first attack. He learned of the deaths of his squad from official sources, then got to his ship and escaped into space where he spent time in meditation on his failure. He returned here to consult with the maitrakh. He was never ordered to land in the city, he simply chose not to.

 

A technician reports that there was damage to the ship that would result in the type of problems the Noghri reported. It also turns out the equipment in general has a reputation for causing these issues, too. Thrawn gives Khabarakh orders for where and when to rejoin the commandoes and then gives his farewells to the maitrakh.

 

Pellaeon thinks the whole thing was a waste of time. Thrawn isn’t so sure. Ruhk confirms that Khabarakh was nervous, something Ir’khaim finds natural for a young one meeting his lord.

 

Thrawn believes there is something Khabarakh is lying about regarding the missing month. He didn’t bring anything incriminating back here as there no way to hide anything in this village. They will scan his ship and have someone put on Khabarakh for surveillance. They’ll fit a decontamination droid with the sensors for an espionage one.

 

For now, they’ll concentrate on assuring the help of the Jedi Master and, to do that, they need to inspire the Noghri to find Leia Organa Solo.
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  • This is the first mention to Leia that the planet is Honoghr. I saved this discussion for here because I think, by now, we all know that the devastation brought to Honoghr was done during the Clone Wars and by a Separatist weapon. The Rebel Alliance had nothing to do with it and bears none of the responsibility. We learned this in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous. Obviously, Vader came to the Noghri after the wars were over and found some way to assign blame elsewhere. It’s too bad Leia didn’t ask Khabarakh when this happened as a general date would have told her very quickly that she shouldn’t feel guilty about this. I'm also surprised this subject didn't come up during her time in the Senate.
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Guest El Chalupacabra

 

 

 

 


• This is the first mention to Leia that the planet is Honoghr. I saved this discussion for here because I think, by now, we all know that the devastation brought to Honoghr was done during the Clone Wars and by a Separatist weapon. The Rebel Alliance had nothing to do with it and bears none of the responsibility. We learned this in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous. Obviously, Vader came to the Noghri after the wars were over and found some way to assign blame elsewhere. It’s too bad Leia didn’t ask Khabarakh when this happened as a general date would have told her very quickly that she shouldn’t feel guilty about this.

 

 

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_expanded_universe

In Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy, for example, the dates given for the war were inaccurate. This was since retconned by explaining that the dates were given using the Noghri calendar.

 

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I was just about to post here about how the weapon in question turned out to be the Dark Reaper from the 2002 video game, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but after taking a look at the article, it turns out that wasn't the case. The weapon mentioned in Zahn's novels was not the inspiration for the Dark Reaper, which I had always thought it was. I have no idea what weapon it was that was used on Honoghr or if any later writers ever bothered to tell that tale. If anyone knows any differently, please enlighten me.

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chapter 11:

 

The Lady Luck is escorted no more than 150 light years from New Cov where Sena contacts them and tells them the Peregrine will drop a magnetic coupling on them whenever they’re ready.

 

Han recognizes the name as belonging to an old Corellian legend about a ghost who was cursed to wander forever without returning home.

 

Whoever is here is clearly well armed and has had some dealings with the Alliance, though Sena isn’t talking. She sends Han in alone to speak with the Commander first. Inside, he finds Senator Garm bel Iblis who welcomes him to Peregrine’s Nest.

 

Bel Iblis had been believed dead. He confirms that the Empire took away everything else from him but couldn’t quite kill him. Han doesn’t remember meeting him, however. The former senator reminds him of the time he was 11-years old and attending a convocation at school where he’d asked questions about anti-alien bias in the Republic’s legal structure and about senatorial corruption.

 

He’d kept an eye on Han ever since, disappointed when the young man had been dismissed from the Imperial Academy as he’s felt that a loyal officer corps was a good defense against the collapse of Republic toward Empire.

 

They bring in Lando and give introductions all around. Han notes that bel Iblis seems to be friendly with Breil’lya and would like to know the details.

 

Pellaeon doesn’t have time to play Rukh’s stalking games as he has information for the Grand Admiral. He finds the room full of candles in an artform popular on Corellia. He shows Pellaeon images of three Dreadnoughts taken off New Cov two days ago. They’ve encountered the Dreadnoughts before but this time they were escorting Lady Luck and an X-Wing off the planet.

 

He’d thought Solo would be on his way to Palanhi, but something seems to have taken priority.

 

Thrawn isn’t convinced that they’ve recruited new allies yet. However, he does know that a Corellian was leading the task force and has a good idea who that might be.

 

He is contacted by an Imperial officer who has Niles Ferrier captive. Thrawn confronts him over having some undeclared cargo on his ship. The fact that Ferrier has helped them secure some ships in the past doesn’t eliminate this new debt. He wants Ferrier to steal the three Dreadnoughts that escaped New Cov.

 

Captain Dorja of the Relentless will supply him with an unmarked Intelligence freighter while his own ship will be held. There’ll also be a doomsday mechanism aboard the freighter with three months timed into it in case Ferrier and his crew decide to run for it.

 

Pellaeon reports that the scan of Khabarakh’s ship has come in with an interesting analysis. There are Wookiee hairs all over the ship. They must have captured, interrogated and let him go which would account for the missing month. What he told them is unknown.

 

Thrawn is going back down to the planet and wants a troop shuttle with two squads of stormtroopers to accompany him. Two flights of assault bombers will provide air cover. Pellaeon is to prepare a demonstration of Imperial authority to remind the Noghri who is in charge.
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  • When bel Iblis prompts Han that their meeting took place when Han was 11, Han’s first reaction was school. We may recall that Han, at age 11, was under the control of Garis Shryke and attended school only when one of Shryke’s scams called for it. That Han would immediately think of school is odd unless he spent a considerable amount of time in one on Corellia when he was 11. Nevertheless, the incident described was detailed in The Paradise Snare.
  • And the Republic was already an Empire when Han was 11 years old and had been for about a year. Questioning anti-alien bias in the Republic at that age would have been too late. It most definitely was an Empire by the time Han was dismissed from the Imperial Navy, not the Academy itself, in The Hutt Gambit so I don’t know why bel Iblis thought having a strong corps of loyal officers would prevent a so-called “slide toward Empire”.
  • Bel Iblis was first mentioned in the Revenge of the Sith novelization and appeared in Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, He appeared in both the Force Unleashed and Force Unleashed II. While Dark Force Rising is the first publication he appeared in, our chronology has already encountered him many times.
  • During Pellaeon’s confrontation with Rukh, his attitude is one of considering the Noghri primitives. In fact, Pellaeon is very much the Imperial officer in these last two books, quite different from the more reasonable person he was in the CW books.
  • For that matter, Thrawn himself is less reasonable than he was in Outbound Flight and in Choices of One.
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Guest El Chalupacabra

I was just about to post here about how the weapon in question turned out to be the Dark Reaper from the 2002 video game, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but after taking a look at the article, it turns out that wasn't the case. The weapon mentioned in Zahn's novels was not the inspiration for the Dark Reaper, which I had always thought it was. I have no idea what weapon it was that was used on Honoghr or if any later writers ever bothered to tell that tale. If anyone knows any differently, please enlighten me.

The Dark Reaper was powered by the force, and while it was a WMD, I don't think anything states it leaves behind radiation. It used lasers and was powered by draining force life from its surroundings. At least as the TCW video game is concerned, it was not used on Honoghr. Plus, it was destroyed on Thule by Anakin, before it was deployed.

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chapter 12:

 

The next morning, Leia awakes in the bake house and finds Chewie missing. A group of children take her to the clan house where the Wookiee is engaged in some kind of activity with Khabarakh while 3PO tells a circle of children about Darth Vader’s last act of sacrifice against the Emperor.

 

The maitrakh asks Leia to walk with her. She explains that the Wookiee had gimmicked the ship to substantiate Khabarakh’s claims of technical problems. She is impressed that the Lady Vader puts so much confidence in someone not of her family.

 

Leia tells her she didn’t know her real father while growing up. She learned to adopt people into her family as she had been adopted herself. Chewie is considered a member of her family now. It’s not her intent to bring problems to Honoghr.

 

The maitrakh explains that they serve the Empire but that Leia wants them to serve the New Republic. This can certainly cause discord here. Serving the Empire has brought unity to the clans. She fears that doing anything else could cause the fighting in the past to return.

 

It’s best if Leia leaves. The Emperor was the only one who helped them and the maitrakh cannot be sure Leia offers them help now out of concern for their welfare or because she wants them to change their loyalties.

 

The Empire has helped them sustain life here when that became impossible. The Noghri did not know of space craft until the battle in the sky that caused one of them to fall to the planet and create earthquakes that swallowed cities, volcanic eruptions that destroyed the greenery and poisoned air that killed many. When that was over, the toxic rain began that destroyed their crops.

 

Leia knows that older ships would have caused this type of damage due to the chemicals that ran them. The Rebel Alliance had only been able to use older ships in the beginning. Vader arrived and found that the Noghri fought better than his own warriors. He offered them peace and the help of the Emperor.

 

They sent food, medicine and tools first, then the metal droids to take poison from the ground which now only grows useless kohlm-grass. Any animal that can eat it survived along with any predators of the herbivores. Vader sent teachers to instruct their children and forced all clans to share the land that was clean.

 

The cost is worth it for them to stay alive.

 

But they still cannot grow enough food to sustain themselves so buy from the Empire which puts them in debt. Their sons have been sent away for service, but can’t come home because there’s not enough food for them. Leia asks if she realizes they’ll never be out of debt.

 

The maitrakh knows this but it will be able to convince all other Noghri of it. Leia would not be able to, either. She cannot change the past nor can she give them their birthright back. She will be protected while she’s here and the Grand Admiral will never know she was, but she should leave now.

 

A child comes in to tell her that the Grand Admiral is returning.
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  • If the Noghri had never seen ships before the disaster, why was one in Boba Fett #4: Wanted . It was on Tatooine when Boba was seeking out Jabba the Hutt for the first time. Even if we allow that the disaster on Honoghr had already happened, there was no Darth Vader to come and blame the Emperor's enemies yet because the Clone Wars were still going on and Anakin was still Anakin. So how did this Noghri get off-world?
  • And older ships would also be Clone Wars-era ships. I’m still surprised Leia hasn’t established how long ago the disaster happened.
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chapter 13:

 

Leia and Chewbacca quickly hide 3PO before hiding themselves. When the Grand Admiral arrives, Leia realizes that Han had not been mistaken.

 

Thrawn demands an explanation from Khabarakh about the presence of Wookiee hairs in his ship. He believes that the Noghri was captured and interrogated. He wants to know what he told his captors that resulted in his freedom.

 

Khabarakh denies being captured at all. Thrawn will not hear the maitrakh’s protests and proclaims that he is the law on this planet. If he wishes to follow their customs, he will or he will not. He has the Star Destroyer fire on the planet several times to demonstrate the price of disloyalty.

 

Rukh is told to place Khabarakh under arrest but, in consideration for the customs of Honoghr, will allow him to undergo the laws of discovery by public shaming in Nystao.

 

Leia feels horrible knowing that her people helped destroy this world and now will be condemning these people again. She and Chewie are now trapped here with no way off the planet and their only ally about to be interrogated by the Empire.

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chapter 14:

 

As he approaches Jomark, Luke reaches out through the Force in the hopes of connecting with C’baoth. He spots a fortress and lands near it where an old man with white hair and beard stands.

 

Luke introduces himself to the Jedi Master who already knows his name just as he knew Luke would come to him. He chastises Luke for not being in enough control to be able to come sooner, but is very interested in the fact that there have been Imperial attacks directed at him.

 

C’baoth is full of vague pronouncements, first telling Luke he is dying, then telling him that he shouldn’t try teaching Leia and her children himself but just bring them to C’baoth for training. He dismisses helping the lesser beings of the galaxy with their petty problems.

 

The Jedi also does not want R2 around because droids are an abomination to the Force. Before he takes off with C’baoth, however, Luke asks R2 to look for any distorted vegetation around, such as the tree on Dagobah. If Yoda was protected from detection by the dark side cave, then something here must have shielded C’baoth, too. If not, it does beg the question as to why the Emperor didn’t send Vader after him.

 

Along the way to the village, Luke asks how long he’s been here, since he would have come after the Outbound Flight mission. C’baoth knows that Luke is really trying to make sure he’s not a dark Jedi like Vader or the Emperor. He does admit that the other Masters aboard the Flight were killed. He explains that he was out of the Emperor’s reach during his reign. After he returned, he began to sense the presence of another rising in the Force. Luke mentions Mara Jade and the Master is intrigued.

 

A throne has been brought down from the fortress and C’baoth explains that he uses it to dispense justice after persuading the people here that it was in their best interests to do so.

 

He forces his way into an altercation between two men over wages that C’baoth rules on quickly and with little in the way of information. When one takes exception to the ruling, C’baoth uses Force lightning on him. He tells Luke that pain is a good lesson, one the man will remember and, of course, he’s still alive.

 

When Luke later returns to R2, the droid expresses his concern. Luke knows that C’baoth isn’t really like Ben or Yoda, both of whom he’d rather talk to now. He is uncomfortable with the Master’s barging in without being asked and judging arbitrarily, but, if he’s a dark Jedi, he wouldn’t be spending all this time with Luke rather than killing him.

 

R2 has some thoughts on that. Luke thinks the Master is likely insane. He explains that he could see and hear Ben Kenobi after his death. Though he never spoke to Yoda or his father after their deaths, he could see them. He wonders if the Force allows some way for a Jedi to attach himself to another post-death. Perhaps, C’baoth is being influenced by the five Jedi Masters who died near him and has gone insane.

 

There are a lot of ways he could be spending his time right now, but he had told 3PO back on Coruscant that a person cannot ignore the individual in favor of matters of galactic importance. He’s never been much of a healer, but thinks he should try to find some way to help this man.
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  • The idea of both Vader and the Emperor being Dark Jedi is kind of silly at this point. We all know that Vader went from Jedi to Sith apprentice and Palpatine never was a Jedi at all. This is just an example of all that was unknown about the Jedi and the Sith at the time the book was written.
  • Additionally, we also know that the ability of Obi-Wan to speak to Luke after death had nothing to do with his proximity to Luke at the time, but his learning what Qui-Gon had learned. I assume Yoda did the same thing. How Anakin Skywalker learned it is beyond me. Nevertheless, C’baoth, as we know, is not being influenced by the other five Jedi Masters.
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chapter 15:

 

Senator bel Iblis regales Han with his exploits fighting the Empire in his own way. However, Han cannot help but notice that Lando isn’t as interested in the Senator as he is. Bel Iblis explains that that Borsk Fey’lya has given the group help from time to time and seems to think they should be more grateful for it.

 

However, before he gives them more information, he’d like some of his own. The official records are all well and good, but he wants to know the unofficial relationship between Fey’lya and Mon Mothma, as well as what she actually does.

 

Borsk Fey’lya thinks she wields too much power and bel Iblis isn’t sure he disagrees. Han explains that she has less power now than she did when she was running the Rebel Alliance. There are things he doesn’t like about her, but even he doesn’t believe she’s trying to do anything other than put together a new government. If she’s the head of that government, few would dispute that right anyway.

 

Fey’lya has his own typically-Bothan ideas about how power should be reapportioned, but that’s also unsurprising. Lando notes that the Bothans can at least claim to have helped the winning side.

 

Bel Iblis knows he’s referring to running his own war against the Empire instead of working with the Rebel Alliance. He explains that security was one of his concerns as constant communication between the Rebel cells was causing too many to be compromised. He points out that there’s a leak at the Imperial Palace right now called Delta Source which reports directly to the Grand Admiral.

 

As or the rest of his reasons, he’d prefer to discuss that over dinner.

 

As Han and Lando head to the quarters assigned to them, Han confronts his friend over his uncharitable behavior. Lando tells him that bel Iblis isn’t being honest about everything. Some of the stories he’d told involved constant moving, sometimes a couple of times per year. Yet, Lando points out that these buildings have been here much longer than that. Further, the decorations in the lounge do not speak of a base that can be packed up quickly if one is still in the business of attacking Imperial bases.

 

He could be plotting with Fey’lya or this could be an Imperial scam. The idea of a Senator thought dead showing up with his own private army that no one’s heard of is very convenient. The way Lando sees it, the Empire could have tampered with the bank accounts, giving Fey’lya an excuse to go after Ackbar, pushed by the idea that he would have the backing of Garm bel Iblis and his followers. While the New Republic is distracted by this, the Empire could move in and grab back territory.

 

Inside their quarters, the spartan feel that the lounge should have had is present. They sit on upholstered chairs which Lando notices were originally blue-gold. In his research, he has found that the Fleet has never done the interiors of military ships this way except for one time during the Old Republic: The Katana fleet.

 

This explains a great deal. Lando would like a look at a display panel in the lounge to be sure.

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chapter 16:

 

In the lounge, they try to avoid looking conspicuous as Han gets Lando to admit the studying he’d done on the Katana fleet was prompted by a fake map he’d been given once.

 

Han distracts the bartender so Lando can have his look but returns to find Irenez there with her blaster. She escorts them to Sena who takes them for a ride. She isn’t happy they were nosing around the lounge, but she really wants a favor from them.

 

She wants them to persuade Mon Mothma to invite the Senator to join the New Republic. The Corellian Treaty was spear-headed by bel Iblis who convinced the three largest resistance groups to join together. While bel Iblis was better at setting strategy, Mon Mothma had the gift of inspring diverse species to join together. Gradually, she became the visible symbol of the Alliance. Bail Organa was a moderating influence on her. After his death, bel Iblis feared she would set herself up to replace the Emperor so he withdrew.

 

This wasn’t publicized, of course, due to what it would do to morale. After the New Republic was set up, they cut back their raids against the Empire so they would have resources on hand to counter a grab for power by Mon Mothma.

 

That hasn’t happened and they all know, even the Senator, that it won’t. But he’s too prideful to go back and ask to be reinstated. She’s gone behind his back to ask Han and Lando to see if Mon Mothma would be willing to extend a hand first.

 

They agree to talk to her if Sena will tell them about the Katana fleet. She tells them that they don’t know where the fleet is, but their Dreadnoughts came from an older man who found them about 15 years ago. She doesn’t know his name but he does a lot of gambling on Pantolomin at the Coral Vanda luxury casino.

 

It’s better to turn the ships over to the New Republic rather than risk them falling into the hands of the Grand Admiral. They haven’t promised Fey’lya anything. But he really isn’t interested in military power so much as he wants the political power. Being the one to bring back the long-lost Senator would be a coup in his favor. He attacks Ackbar because that’s how Bothans are with their rivals, but he’s probably not behind the bank account situation. All the New Republic has to do is clear Ackbar’s name and Fey’lya will back down. They may not have time to do that, though.

 

They find bel Iblis waiting at the Lady Luck. Sena admits that they know both about the Katana fleet and their contact. He realizes they are going to try to persuade the man to turn the ships over to the New Republic. Han admits they need warships just as they need good commanders. Bel Iblis, however, will not return and beg for another chance. Too many people know what happened between himself and Mon Mothma.

 

He’d hoped to be able to return with several decisive victories to claim, but that hasn’t happened. They remind him that his combat record, on top of six Dreadnoughts, is nothing to underestimate. It’s better to risk a wound to his pride than a chance the Grand Admiral will catch him here alone.

 

The Harrier will take them back to New Cov. It’s doubtful the Imperials will be back there soon and Brei’lya needs his ship anyway.

 

Stuck in hyperspace, escorted by the Harrier, Han and Lando brood aboard the Lady Luck. Han is worried about letting Leia go. He just knows the alien has betrayed her. Lando reminds him that Grand Admirals make mistakes, too. Han tells him that the mistake was made at Sluis Van. It won’t happen again.

 

Pellaeon reports that a smuggler who’s provided reliable information in the past has spotted the Millennium Falcon over Endor. Thrawn doubts they are looking for a hiding place among the Ewoks, but it will have to be checked out.

 

The Chimaera will go there. However, he is suspicious that Khabarakh was released around the same time as these strange visits to New Cov and Endor. They will leave the Noghri where he is and he will doubtless give them a lot of bad information anyway.

 

What the Falcon is doing on Endor is a mystery. Possibly, she is looking for information in the Death Star wreckage that might still be there. As they head out of the system, Thrawn receives a report that one of Talon Karrde’s freighters has been found in the Abregado system.

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  • In Choices of One, Thrawn was careful not to dismiss the resourcefulness of indigineous populations when he was reviewing the shield generator protections on Endor with Palpatine. Considering he was very right to caution the Emperor about underestimating the Ewoks, I find it surprising that he would consider a hiding place among them to be foolish.
  • We last saw Mon Mothma and Bel Iblis together in The Force Unleashed II when the Rebel Alliance was in its early stages. No indication that there was any conflict between them.
  • Further, this heavy-handedness of Mon Mothma hasn’t really been seen in any of our previous novels either.
  • Pantolomin was the homeworld of Wraith Squadron’s Garik “Face” Loran.
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chapter 17:

 

At the Abregado-rae Spaceport, Mara finds the freighter Etherway Fynn Torve was forced to leave behind. She's met by Wedge Antilles who bribed the port to let the ship go. He tells her Han was sent on a special mission and couldn’t make it, but wants to know if they are willing to sell information on their friend with the eyes.

 

In orbit, she gets a bad feeling right before she’s confronted with the Star Destroyer Adamant. Knowing she can’t get out of this, she asks to speak with the captain and tells him she has important information for Grand Admiral Thrawn.

 

The captain doesn’t see the need to bother the Grand Admiral with whatever a member of Talon Karrde’s organization has to say. She implies Thrawn will be displeased if he isn’t told, but the captain would rather have more than vague threats. She resorts to giving a verbal recognition code that gets his attention. She tells him to inform Thrawn that she is the Emperor’s Hand.

 

She is kept in decent quarters under lock until the Adamant arrives at its destination: Endor. When escorted to the Grand Admiral, she is furious that she was brought here. He explains the destination was forced upon them both and wonders if she can sense the Emperor’s presence here. She can feel the unpleasant evidence of his death and would rather get this over with soon.

 

Thrawn takes several steps to confirm her identity before wondering why it took her so long to return. She tells him that few knew who she really was so there is virtually no one who would have accepted her.

 

He asks why she helped Luke Skywalker escape from Karrde. She explains that it was not her idea nor does she think it matters who was responsible for it in the first place. She has a deal that will clear the debt.

 

She wants him to stop harassing Karrde, cancel the bounties and clear them for all Imperial-controlled worlds. She also wants cash deposited in Karrde’s name for the purchase of Imperial goods. In exchange, she can get the location of the Katana fleet from Karrde. Mara explains how he had found the fleet by accident. But she’s not telling where Karrde is. She will go back and get the information they need.

 

Thrawn reminds her not to dictate to him. Mara may have heard the Emperor’s voice more clearly than the rest of his Hands but she was really only a specialized courier. Mara is furious that he would imply there were other Hands.

 

The Emperor had brought her from her home and trained her. He couldn’t have lied to her.

 

Thrawn asks if she knows why Leia Organa Solo would come here. They have found the Millennium Falcon in orbit, but abandoned. It’s being brought aboard the Chimaera for inspection.

 

In the meantime, he agrees to the deal and gives her eight days to get the information and return it to him before he goes after Karrde himself.

 

Thrawn admits to Pellaeon that she could have been lying to him, but they’ll have to check it out. There’s a homing beacon aboard her ship. Pellaeon had dreamed of finding the Katana Fleet himself as a young man. Now, after almost 55 years, it could happen.

 

Thrawn shows him some images from New Cov that look very much like the Dark Force Dreadnoughts in question. It doesn’t make sense that Karrde would provide them to the renegade Corellian which means that someone else on that ill-fated smuggling mission figured out what they had. Cross-referencing what Mara Jade told them with incidents from Karrde’s past should give them leads on who else might have been there with him. They will find that person.

 

In the meantime, it’s time to contact Niles Ferrier. His assignment is being changed to following Solo and Calrissian.

 

The beacon aboard Mara’s ship is working, but Thrawn tells the bridge not to bother with any extrapolations yet as she’ll probably change course at least once. They’re not giving her time to come back to them with the information. She may believe she’s part of the Empire, but she isn’t.
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  • In the last book, we were told that the Katana fleet disappeared about 10 years before the Clone Wars. I mentioned then that it would have been around the time of TPM and was surprised at how close the author got to a realistic timeline. Now, we are told the ships disappeared 55 years ago. That makes it 23 years before the outbreak of the Clone Wars, not 10. Once again, we have an example where it was thought that the Clone Wars dated further back than they turned out to be. However, at least the idea of Pellaeon wanting to find it as a young man is more plausible as he allegedly spent 50 years in the Imperial fleet!
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chapter 18:

 

At least the Grand Admiral has left. Leia had expected him to remain in orbit until Khabarakh’s public shaming was over and he could be interrogated. She starts to second-guess what the man would do, but realizes she can’t get caught up in believing Grand Admirals are infallible.

 

The time to act is now but how to act is as important as actually doing so. Leia wants to minimize the risk of damage to the Noghri or their homes, lest she risk damaging their relationship.

 

The maitrakh arrives and lets her know 3PO is working with the decon droids. If it goes well, planting can begin in ten days but it won’t be enough to make them self-sufficient. Leia asks Chewie if he knows anything about decon droids.

 

The Wookiee tells her that it would take eight years for the number of droids on Honoghr to decontaminate the land. That would put the damage done at the height of the war with the Empire. She knows the Grand Admiral is deceiving them in some way, she just can’t prove it.

 

Leia wants to leave this place but not without Khabarakh. The maitrakh warns her that the guards in the city will not be easily overtaken. Leia explains that she is responsible for all of this. She asked Khabarakh to bring her here. She knows the brutality of the Empire and does not want another world to suffer because of her.

 

The maitrakh tells her that the moon will be darkest in two days which would make better cover to rescue Khabarakh. She will accompany Leia.

 

Han speak with Winter by comm. who tells him that the Imperials are still hitting shipping, some of the Councilors are having second thoughts about Fey’lya who hasn’t quite gotten Mon Mothma to hand over defense responsibilities to him, but he’s got a lot of support from the military. She’s not heard from Leia but a printed message came from Luke asking them to meet him on New Cov at the Mishra café.

 

There were a lot of other patrons who saw him there so this could be a trap. However, they do not want to leave Luke needing help if it’s really him. On New Cov, however, they are met by Niles Ferrier who wants to cut a deal with them. He seems to be alone, but Han sees a flicker in the shadows behind him and assumes he’s got backup somewhere.

 

Ferrier claims to know someone who knows where the Katana fleet is. If they can get the location out of him, Ferrier will split the ships with them and sell his share to the New Republic for a reasonable price. Though he drops Thrawn’s name, he refuses to divulge the name of his contact, so Solo and Calrissian decide to leave.

 

Of course, they find a homing beacon aboard the Lady Luck and discuss how to ditch it.

 

It turns out, however, that Ferrier has had two beacons put on the ship by his Wraith. He knew they would find one of them, but probably not the other.
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  • Eight years ago was not the height of the war against the Empire. It was actually about the end. If it really is 8 or 9 years after ROTJ, the war was just ending then. If the date is intended to imply that the disaster on Honoghr occurred then, there’s no way Vader could have shown up afterward and persuaded the Noghri to trade their servitude for some help.
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You know...I rechecked my math and yes, you are right, this does take place 9 years ABY. I don't what I was thinking with regards to it being that long since ROTJ. So, points for Leia's and Maker's math, 0 points for mine. This would have certainly been when the Rebellion was fighting the Empire with gusto.

 

chapter 19:

 

Karrde watches the Etherway drop down, concerned that Mara is three days late in returning with it. He had worried that she would jump ship and go after Skywalker, but he’s learned that, when Mara Jade gives her loyalty to someone, she sticks with it.

 

She tells him she’d taken a detour, but feels strange when, suddenly, they are attacked by TIE fighters from above and stormtroopers on the ground. He fires at them, misses and notices he isn’t being fired at when Mara takes his blaster from him.

 

He cannot hear what she’s saying due to the sonic booms from above, but knows he’s been betrayed. Strangely, he’s not angry about this as the stormtroopers take him to a drop ship.

 

Thrawn tells Mara he changed his mind about their arrangements and it got him what he wanted anyway. She attacks him before being repulsed by Rukh the Noghri. Thrawn reminds her that he is in charge of the Empire now. If she cooperates, she might be given a position aboard one of the Dreadnoughts, otherwise he’ll turn her over to Master C’baoth, the mad Jedi Master, who already has Luke Skywalker in his clutches and will soon have Skywalker’s sister.

 

For the time being, Karrde’s people are free, the bounties are being canceled and Karrde will be paid the compensation Mara demanded so long as he cooperates and gives up the location of the Katana fleet.

 

He will not allow her to speak with him because he thinks a few days of isolation will make Karrde more psychologically inclined to tell them what they want to know.

 

With this betrayal, she knows that the Empire will never be the same as it was. It’s her job to fix this. She heads to a computer terminal and enters a code that the Emperor had installed as a backdoor into his ships so that no one could ever lock him out of one. Obviously, Grand Admiral Thrawn does not know about this because she gets in easily.

 

She finds the information she needs before considering what to do next. She has only a few days to rescue Karrde. His people on the ground will consider her a traitor, but she hopes there’s one person who can help. She keys for information on Joruus C’baoth’s location and finds he’s on the world of Jomark.

 

After she’s transported back to the surface, she tries to comm. Aves who shows up with a blaster. He and the others pretty much believe what Mara expected, but he agrees to help her rescue Karrde. She needs a fast ship and an ysalamir that she will need in order to convince a Jedi to listen.

 

A couple of hours later, she is on a Skipray blastboat just like the one she’d used on Myrkr to chase after Luke Skywalker. This time, she needs to ask for his help.
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  • Whatever happened to Mara’s lightsaber? Just wondering. I can’t imagine she wouldn’t have found it to be useful. I’m still concerned about her inability to use or control the Force. Granted, we’ve mentioned that emotional trauma or overall attitude can suppress the connection, as well as lack of use, but I’m rather surprised that someone of her skill is having trouble controlling it now. Was the connection with the Emperor that important?
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chapter 20:

 

Luke watches C’baoth sit in judgment on the villagers before he is told to handle the last case. It’s a fairly simple one about damages to a fence and fruit bushes by an escaped animal. Luke decrees that the owner of the animal will have to pay for the bushes and he will examine the fence the next day to check the damage to it.

 

He can tell C’baoth is unhappy with this decision which makes Luke wonder why he’s doing this in the first place. C'baoth felt Luke let them explain themselves too long when he should have used the Force to get the information from their minds and make all of the decisions right then. Luke doesn’t think it’s ethical to read minds in this way even if it benefits them.

 

C’baoth asks if he’s never overlooked rules or personal boundaries. Luke admits he has but this feels too much like taking more responsibility for these people than he should. The Master doesn’t see a problem with that. The Jedi alone have the maturity to understand the Force far better than these primitives do. Once, the Jedi Order enforced the Senate’s laws across the galaxy until they were hunted down and destroyed. Vader and a few dark Jedi may have helped the Emperor do that but they were aided and abetted by a galaxy jealous of the power the Jedi had. They were jealous of the wisdom that could never be there and are waiting to destroy the Jedi again when they rise.

 

Luke doesn’t believe this is actually how the Jedi died, but he hadn’t lived through that time. On the other hand, he remembers the grudging respect the Cantina patrons had for Ben Kenobi after he’d handled that small altercation. The lack of bitterness in Yoda while hiding on Dagobah. And he remembers the Barabel who asked for his judgment despite part of it going against him and the crowd that accepted it. Luke really hasn’t experienced that much hatred.

 

C’baoth doesn’t think that Luke appreciates the forces that will be arrayed against himself, his sister and her children. He cannot gamble their future based on his whims. That’s why it’s important that they be brought here so C’baoth himself can teach them.

 

Luke grows concerned when the Master goes stiff and gazes outward, seemingly at nothing. C’baoth insists he’s fine, Luke should sleep now, but it’s best he bring his sister here so that she can be taught more power than she can imagine.

 

Luke is uncomfortable with those words.

 

Mara’s dreams intrude as she watches Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader battle each other and the Emperor telling her she must kill Skywalker. She feels so tired and nearly loses control of the ship before she levels it off and sets the autopilot. When she gets to the ysalamir in the back, the fatigue vanishes and she realizes the mad Jedi was trying to keep her away.

 

That’s when the ship is hit by rocks which knock out the repulsorlifts.
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  • True, Luke does not know the exact circumstances surrounding the death of the Jedi. We do know Vader killed a lot of them. It’s possible some Jedi were recruited to the Imperial cause, becoming the so-called Dark Jedi, who might have helped. But this idea of Luke’s that Jedi were generally much-loved is something that hurts to have to counter. We know from our readings during the Clone Wars period that the Jedi were often given a great deal of negative publicity, rumors were allowed to spread about them and certainly they were blamed for a false rebellion. I can see that citizens could have been manipulated into thinking it was a good idea to turn in any Jedi they found. We definitely learned in the Republic Commando and Imperial Commando books that not everyone revered the Jedi or were willing to help them.
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