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"Isard's Revenge": Book 8 in the X-Wing Series


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chapter 27:


Corran is working out when Ysanne Isard shows up, ostensibly for her own. She quips that he keeps trying to send messages to his wife and really should stop since they aren’t getting out. Horn finds it entertaining that she keeps reading his messages, but tells her that he cannot allow his wife to think he’s dead. That’s pain that could be spared her. He asks if Isard has ever loved anyone.


She has but the one she loved would know if she were alive or dead. It takes Corran a moment to realize she meant the Emperor. She doesn’t think he should be surprised. She came of age during Palpatine’s rise to power and he was very charismatic after all.


She does, however, indicate that Corran owes her an apology. He isn’t planning on giving her one for the Lusankya but she doesn’t care about that ship anymore. After Corran escaped and she had to pull it off of Imperial Center, it wasn’t the clean pristine ship she’d known.


He asks how she got it beneath the planet. She actually doesn’t know. The ship had been made around the time of the Executor but she was never told anymore about its insertion despite going through records.


It’s possible the Emperor used the Force but that would indicate a level of control over both physical matter and the minds of beings that is beyond belief.


But she didn’t mean the Lusankya anyway. She thinks he owes her an apology for underestimating her. He thought she was dead, never searched for her, even though his father would have. She met Hal Horn once and he caused problems for her. Horn could be annoying but there’s only so much annoyance she can take.


He’s to stop sending messages out. They will compromise the mission and, if he doesn’t, she will have Whistler taken apart piece by piece and have him scattered across the galaxy. He is stunned that she would even think to hit him that way. He’d know the droids were hostages and the fact that she threatens the droid means she doesn’t know it’s gotten away yet, but she obviously knows how to hurt people. He reminds her that she may have loved but she wasn’t loved back. She has no idea what the pain of loss is like. She agrees that she would rather be spared that.


He tells her that having friends helps soothe the pain and that’s something she will never understand either. He understands her well enough to know how she is going to behave and that’s what will get her killed in the end.


Wedge is in his guise as Roat again and is given instructions on approaching Krennel’s group. He’s introduced to Major Telik who was on Commenor recently and slipped Iella Wessiri a blaster that got her and Mirax Terrik out of a sticky situation.


Wedge isn’t sure if this information is coming from Isard or not, but it could mean that she has a line on Iella and Mirax. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t trust Telik or work with him, but he will have to keep an eye out.


For now, he has to compose a message to Admiral Ackbar outlining the plan.

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chapter 28:


Whistler and Gate head down the ramp, ignored by the spacer who gave them and lift. Whistler plots revenge on the man’s sons who’d welded a conical cone on top of Gate and took pot shots at him while on the ship.


The two droids head into the spaceport, Whistler retrieves a single message from a local hotel and creates a couple of distractions before they head out onto the streets.


At the Grand Oradin hotel, the droids take a lift up to a floor and head to the room where they are met by Talon Karrde and his associate Aves. Karrde hadn’t thought the message was from Booster but he’d not expected droids. He knows Whistler belongs to Corran Horn but both of them were presumed destroyed.


He is willing to take the droids to Errant Venture for a fee, of course, but suspects that the story Whistler has to tell will contain enough information to more than pay for it.


Mirax really doesn’t want to meet Karrde right now but her father assures her that being a profiteer doesn’t make the man cruel. He has a reason for asking her to be here. Karrde arrives and the two men banter over the ship Aves is being given captaincy of before he turns to Mirax and tells her he has good news.


She is thrilled to see Whistler and Gate, knowing that, if they are here, they may have been sent by the Rogues. Karrde suggests they might want to review information in Booster’s office instead of out here. No sooner do they get there, however, than Iella comms Booster to tell him that Cracken is calling and wanting them on Coruscant now.


There is news that may indicate the Rogues are alive.


Booster tells her to come down to his office and they’ll show her proof.

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chapter 29:

 

General Cracken apologizes for delaying Wedge’s message but needed to make sure that Wedge was the actual speaker. The message relates how a group opposing Admiral Krennel has offered their assistance. He has included information about Krennel’s defenses on Ciutric which they will use to topple him and free the Lusankya prisoners.

 

He advises them not to release news of their survival so that the the plan will not be compromised, especially if they choose not to assist as Rogue Squadron will likely be doomed in that event anyway.

 

The Councilors debate how to handle this. Ackbar believes the plan is sound and that Wedge was involved in planning it. Fey’lya thinks this is a trap at worst and worries that they may find themselves owing a favor to some distasteful Imperial element, especially since Wedge was not forthcoming as to the identity of their benefactor.

 

Mon Mothma considers his a good point. They need to think about how willing they are to accept allies in the form of former Imperials, especially if it requires them to forgive atrocities or compromise their principles. However, the war with Krennel was started by them and has not been satisfactory. If Ackbar thinks the plan is militarily sound, she would agree to the New Republic’s participation.

 

Sian Tevv thinks they should wait until the Republic’s refitting of the Lusankya is done but that will take extra time. Ackbar will provide extra defenses, in case Krennel has more forces than thought.

 

Cracken reminds them all that none of this conversation should leave the room until they know how Krennel is getting his information.

 

He and Ackbar head to Booster, Mirax and Iella. He confirms that the Council has not been told the real Isard is alive and they are dismissing any rumors that she’s working for Krennel. So they don’t know about the clone either. It has to stay that way because she will bolt if she thinks the New Republic government knows she’s alive. They have to find out what she’s up to. That will be up to Iella and Mirax.

 

As for the attack, they gave the Council the first date and not the appended one Wedge gave in a second message because they want to make sure that any leaks Krennel has in place will lead him to believe it’s happening later rather than sooner.

 

For now, they will have to find out what Isard has planned before she finds out the droids are missing.

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chapter 30:

After Corran de-bugs their briefing room, the Rogues have a short time before someone comes to check on them. Wedge asks for thoughts on their mission and Gavin complains that they are the ones who are taking all the risks here.

It is a foregone conclusion that Iceheart will betray them, either to Krennel or to take over for him after shes surpassed him. Its doubtful she will do so before the mission as she does need them to pull this off, however, its possible she will set events in motion beforehand that will not take effect until after they seize Ciutric, such as inserting a virus among the Lusankya prisoners that will lie dormant until theyve been paraded through the New Republic and spread it. She could also arrange for the mission to be much more difficult in some way.

They will have to plan for these contingencies by making their sims harder and making sure the Lusankya prisoners are warned at their rescue that they may have to be quarantined for everyones sake.

Colonel Vessery arrives at the door to wish them the best and that the Force be with them so they can all go home.

Posing as Requiem Squadron, Wedge lands his team on Ciutric in his modified Roat disguise where they are met by Krennel personally. It is easy to see how he has been so popular as Krennel is charismatic and friendly, greeting each pilot. He notes the presence of the Gand and the Quarren, admiring Nrims claim to want to be able to kill Mon Calamarians.

Wedge tells him he hopes his squadron will help fill gaps in his defenses that he didnt know he had.
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  • Since we know that Krennel is getting information out of Coruscant somehow and that the clone Isard has made it a personal mission to destroy Rogue Squadron, does it seem logical then that Krennel should know which pilots make up the squadron? Even accounting for the Rogues being in disguises and using assumed names, how many starfighter units include a mixture of humans, Gand and Quarren? Is he just not thinking about it because he thinks the Rogues are all dead?
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chapter 31:


General Cracken comes in to check on Iella, Mirax and Booster, the latter is sleeping. He compliments them on the work they’ve done in projecting what Isard might do. They’ve come up with scenarios that make the Rogues’ job tougher on the ground, killing the Lusankya prisoners or even setting up a Krytos-like virus.


He gives each of the women a datacard that gives them high-level clearance codes and access to a huge sum of credits to do what they have to do to help get Isard. After he leaves, Booster tells them that they’ve analyzed everything else, now they have to go down Isard’s dream ladder. What is her ultimate goal and what rungs will she have to climb to get there?


As Colonel Roat, Wedge attends a dinner with Colonel Lorrir, several other officers and their wives. Lorrir is a true Imperial, demanding and prideful. He flew with Baron Fel in the 181st. Wedge makes a couple of missteps during the dinner, ordering wine improperly and assigning blame for the loss at Brentaal IV to Admiral Lon Isoto who had done virtually nothing to defend the place from the Rogues. In Imperial space, however, it was Baron Fel who had cost them Brentaal IV before he defected to Rogue Squadron.


The Rogues are a decidedly difficult bunch, with high casualty rates. Despite their deaths, the New Republic will surely bring them back, but as clones. Lorrir looks forward to the day when lies will be broken and the truth will shine through. Wedge offers a toast to that very thing.

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  • The incident on Brentaal IV is related in Dark Horse Comics’ Rogue Squadron series. The world has appeared before in SW novels and comics, such as Darth Bane: Path of Destruction and Dark Horse Comics’ “Shaak Ti”.

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chapter 32:


Major Telik and Isard watch a transmission indicating that Ackbar’s sizeable force has left and will arrive in eight hours. Isard notes to Vessery that she believes he’s developed a fondness for the Rogues during their stay here. He admits he has but he and his men will follow their orders.


She has let Intel slip to Krennel that the Rebels will be launching another convoy to Liinade III so he will stay on Ciutric and possibly draw in more ships that will give Ackbar a big surprise. She won’t be there to see it since Ackbar is leaving a bigger prize undefended.


The clone Isard doesn’t believe the Intel about the convoy. She points to fluctuations in stock prices that do not indicate a supply convoy so much as another planetary attack. Though her source is reliable, she verifies everything. This leads her to believe that there is only one world they will hit.


Krennel decides that, in that case, he will pull his forces in and attack Coruscant.


Corran loves playing sabaac with these Hegemony pilots because they’re so bad at it. The pilots, however, are given a call by Krennel for an action that will strike at the heart of the New Republic. Since there are still a couple of hours before Isard’s people show up, the Rogues have no idea what’s up.

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chapter 33:


After Lorrir confronts Colonel Roat over not being in the air yet, Wedge sees him privately, reveals himself, removes his disguise and stuns the man. Then he and the other Rogues get their ships moving.


Isard’s clone doesn’t realize she is a clone, of course. She has memories of the time up to the escape of the Lusankya from Imperial Center and is possessed of Isard’s attitudes. Though she doesn’t believe in the Force, there is perhaps something of it that alerts her when she is asked where Colonel Lorrir is.


She searches for him, finds him stunned in an office, along with the remains of a disguise that belonged to Colonel Roat. If the disguise isn’t real, neither is Roat and that means he and his pilots are up to no good. When the city alarms sound, she slaps Lorrir awake and tells him that the New Republic is after her and her prisoners. She is going to make sure they are disappointed.


Wedge notes that the task force sent by Ackbar is as he described but it appears that Krennel has called in more reinforcements. Further, there doesn’t appear to be any sign of Vessery’s pilots or Telik’s commandos. Still, the Rogues take down the city’s defenses in the hopes that Telik shows up eventually.

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  • It was rather foolish of Wedge to reveal himself before the operation was over. When considering the amount of care that has been taken to make sure they aren’t compromised, letting one’s ego get in the way even at the end will cause trouble.

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chapter 34:


In orbit, Ackbar’s ships battle the much more numerous force while the Rogues try to hit the defenses around the prison. Fearing that the guards will kill the prisoners and knowing that Isard’s people are either late or will not be here, Corran insists on going down. Wedge lets him take Ooryl and Nrim.


They shoot their way into the prison, up the stairway to the upper-level containment area and Corran cuts through a wall with his lightsaber, then draws fire until they can get past the metal bars separating them from the isolation cells.


Then Corran cuts open Jan Dodonna’s door and asks him if he’s ready to go home.

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chapter 35:


Krennel sends ships after any New Republic forces that appear to be leaving or going to ground.


About 90 prisoners are freed but the stairwell is being reinforced by guards. Dodonna thinks Corran should cut them an escape route to the roof, but Tycho confirms that TIEs have been sent after their ships and the local authorities are coming to defend the prison.


The Rogues fly down to handle the TIEs while Wedge tries to take care of the ground troopers. When he sees a fully-armed Assault Shuttle with one occupant, he opens his comm. and asks if Ysanne Isard is aboard the ship.


The clone is surprised to hear from General Antilles whom she thought to be dead. He had thought her dead, too, so thinks the feeling is mutual. She won’t give him another chance and launches a couple of concussion missles at the prison rooftop.

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chapter 36:


Admiral Ackbar learned well from Grand Admiral Thrawn. He brought the other half of his task force in deeper into the system and they arrive on his signal. The Reckoning is hit with a concussion missle right into its forward viewport, shattering over Krennel and dousing his uniform with blood before the missle explodes.


At the warning of incoming missles, the prisoners and the Rogues dive for cover. The isolation cells protect them. Then Kapp Dendo asks for their situation. He’s got a team coming up now.


Wedge contacts the clone Isard and compliments her on her flying. He reveals that she is a clone and gives her a modified version of what happened to her. Gavin and Myn send torpodoes that bring the shuttle down, but Wedge knows she’s not really aboard it.


He comms her again and explains the way she can know she’s a clone is that the real Isard is doing exactly what she did on Thyferra. Then he triangulates the frequency to a squat building before blowing it up.


Corran brings General Dodonna down into the prison yard where Kapp Dendo shows him the half-a-dozen Noghri commandoes who are working with him. They helped him take down the guards.


In space, the remainder of the task force helped eliminate Krennel and the surviving Imps are accepting amnesty. While the clone Isard is gone, the real one is out there somewhere.

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chapter 37:


Isard arrives at the Bilbringi shipyards where the Lusankya is being repaired. She hadn’t lied when she’d told Horn that she felt the ship was sullied when he’d escaped. In fact, the time between the loss of Imperial Center and the incident on Thyferra had served to burn all the insanity out of her. Now she’s prepared to utilize the resources at her disposal to retake the restored ship. Telik’s commandos are here for that purpose.


Warlords like Teradoc will have a problem at first but Tavira and her Invidious will flock to the banner. The team gets aboard ship with Colonel Vessery’s squadron stationed near the system to patrol.


She sends them to the bridge while she admires the work the Emperor had put into the rooms just for her benefit. She receives a report that the atmosphere is thin on the main bridge and all controls are locked into the auxiliary bridge.


She sends people there to fix the problem when she spots Iella Wessiri with a blaster. She recognizes Iella and tries to rattle her by mentioning her late husband, Diric, and how he’d been programmed to kill Kirtan Loor which forced Iella to kill him.


Iella is not that susceptible. She reveals that the atmosphere on the bridge will thin enough to knock her people there out. The auxiliary bridge has three operatives already there. Isard contacts the aux bridge and offers 25 million credits each if they turn the ship over to her. Booster Terrik appears on screen and declines the offer. He does, however, recommend that Iella shoot her.


Iella admits that she would not shoot an unarmed person but Isard will be brought to trial. Isard doesn’t think the New Republic will try her as she knows too much about the politicians and can expose them. Iella explains the plan is to try her for piracy in a military court where nothing is public and, when she’s convicted, will be held in solitary on the Lusankya.


The idea of being entombed here stuns Isard enough that she pulls out a holdout blaster and shoots Iella in the shoulder before Iella, in turn, shoots her back. Realizing that she’s failed the Emperor is enough to make her welcome death.

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  • The situation with Diric Wessiri, who’d been programmed as an Imperial agent, and his assassination of Kirtan Loor occurred in the Rogue Squadron book, The Krytos Trap.

  • Tavira appeared in the Rogue Squadron comic books.

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chapter 38:


At a party for the returning prisoners, Corran is glad to see Dodonna reunited with his former comrades, sad for Gavin Darklighter, and jokes with Wes Janson before greeting his wife and Iella. They explain that Booster figured out Isard would come for the Lusankya so the four of them got aboard and took control.


Mention of four gets Corran’s notice, but it’s explained a Verpine tech was with them.


As Borsk Fey’lya reaches the podium, Iella excuses herself to go back to her room for something. She comms Asyr Sei’lar and asks if she won’t reconsider coming back. Asyr explains that it’s better for everyone to think she’s dead.


Coming back now and exposing Borsk Fey’lya and his threats will only bring down one Bothan. There’s a whole Bothan culture that props up this type of thinking and that’s what she wants to change. Gavin can’t come along with her on this journey.


As soon as the comm. ends, Wedge appears and tells Iella that he’s put at a table with a bunch of senators he doesn’t know and wondered if she would like to sit with him. Having each killed an Isard, they make a good team.

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