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"Shield of Lies": Book 2 in The Black Fleet Crisis

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Part I: Lando:
chapter 1:
Lando and Lobot determine that the ship had meant to dump them out as soon as it severed the Lady Luck, but that the jump to hyperspace sealed the door before they could all be sucked out. Lobot’s datalinks were brought down, one of Lando’s gloves was sucked out into space and they have no way to communicate with Pakkpekatt who is surely trying to follow them.
The compartment they are now in start repressurization after they made the jump. Lando decides that this ship sees them as interlopers which means their chances after reverting to real space are not good. The ship is either guided with limited intelligence systems or by beings with limited intelligence.
They will have to find some way out of this compartment before they exit hyperspace. C-3PO starts to apologize to the ship. Lando tells him to knock it off, but Lobot suggests that it can’t hurt and could possibly get them into another compartment.
A New Republic survey mission arrives at Qella to find a world nearly iced over. They decide to send a probe down before heading to the other side of the planet in the hopes of finding a place to land.
They send for a team that recently finished an excavation on Hoth and then send a message to New Republic Intelligence that there will be a delay in getting them the information they need.
While R2 looks for inflow vents, C-3PO continues to make entreaties to the ship, Lobot analyzes astrographic and acceleration data and Lando looks for something to replace the glove. He settles for a sample bag that causes his hand to stop swelling. Still the control panel will not respond to anything he does.
In the meantime, R2 has determined there are no inflow vents, but the bulkheads seem to be porous which is how the compartment is being repressurized. C-3PO has hailed them in over 11,000 languages to no avail.
Lando decides to take a cutting tool and make their own door now.
Drayson analyzes the data about the vagabond. He knows their only chance to find it may lie with Lando, but he does start looking up Alpha Blue’s assets to see if he can better those odds.
The Council on Security and Intelligence meets with General Rieekan heading it. They discuss why Calrissian was on this expedition anyway and debate over how to handle the vagabond’s disappearance. Some just want to write off the search and assume the team to be dead. Others point out that Baron Calrissian and the two droids are considered Rebel heroes and there would be some public outcry if no effort was made to help them.
Since Calrissian’s glove was found with no blood on it, they will assume he’s alive and that he will make every effort to try to be found. They decide to allow Pakkpekatt another 15 days to search, but no additional ships will be sent.
  • The chapter says the droids are as well-known and loved as the heroes themselves. I’d never really gotten the impression that C-3PO and R2-D2 enjoyed a public following.

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chapter 2:

Lando finds that the ship has self-sealing bulkheads. By adjusting the drill settings, they can make small holes that close more slowly but not big enough for a person to get through. R2 sends his wand through and gets an image of the next compartment.

They finally cut their equipment sled so that only the frame is left. Cut a hole around the sled and, when the bulkhead starts to close in, it closes over the frame. The ship responds by opening a hole in the outer bulkhead, ready to suck them out into space.

They jump through the frame-held hole and then cut the frame, allowing it to close up.

Then the ship jumps to hyperspace again.

The survey team on Qella finds burial sites, but they are only here for biological material, not excavation. They decide to drill in for the material and the later team will do the excavating. Besides, if they wait for the others, they will have to share the bonus.

But, when they try to drill, it starts an avalanche that buries them.

Lando begins to make markings to note where they’ve been. He has run his thruster propellent down. Lobot’s suit is still at 91% so he may have to carry Lando at some point. They need to disable the hyperdrive to keep from jumping again, then find where they are and how to contact the nearest ally.

Pakkpekatt gets orders that his remaining ships are being recalled. He has to keep Glorious on one-hour standby alerts and not make jumps of more than half a light year. He doesn’t know what’s going on that is so important, but he can at least continue this search himself. His intelligence officer offers to take some back roads to find out the situation back home.


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chapter 3:
Wandering around in zero-g is not convenient. Lobot surmises that the Qella, being from a planet, would be more comfortable in a gravity environment, regardless of what their bodies are like. There must be something on this ship that can improve that condition.
They walk far more than the length of the ship should allow. R2’s maps confirm it. They realize this ship is expanding. Lando’s played rigged games before but it helps to have someone else at the table to watch it. He tells R2 to kill the map and they need to pick up the pace.
When they end up back where they started, Lando gets frustrated and pulls out lines to string. They will use those when their thruster propellent runs out and it will be helpful to know where they’ve been.
Then they find a conduit has opened up where there wasn’t one before. C-3PO offers a suggestion that they split up with a droid in each party for better convenience. Lando thinks it’s a good idea, but Lobot points out that the conduit could close just as easily. Further, this could be a feint to get them to split up. He suggests Lando pick which way to go.
It turns out that both passages are dead ends that go to the same place. The hyperdrive could be down there. They will have to find a different way.
The lines end up being more useful and the ship no longer seems so menacing. Lobot suggests they both get rest because they will conserve energy and will be less apt to make a mistake. Lando doesn’t want to spend the time resting if they can find a way off the ship. This hyperspace jump is long and they could be anywhere.
They finally find power couplings. Lando wants to plug R2 into them for data so C-3PO can interpret it. Lobot is concerned that this should appear right now. It could be that the ship produces it when it needs it, but they do not know what that need is. Further, they’ve been allowed to wander this ship unimpeded for several hours. Lobot points out that messing with the coupling could change that.
Lando thinks they need to take a risk. He’s tired, hungry, his water supply tastes terrible and it’s better to act now while they still have a chance. Lobot prevails upon the droids to wait until the circumstances are known first, but C-3PO reminds him that Luke placed them under Lando’s care and they must obey him.
Data starts to stream out but C-3PO doesn’t understand what it means. While the men ponder it, the droid puts his arm on a projection to steady himself and blue energy bolts latch onto his arm. Too late to heed warnings not to let go, C-3PO releases his arm and the bolts spread down the corridor, burning some of their lines and blackening his right arm before he falls over. R2 angrily trills at Lando before dragging his friend off in the opposite direction of the bolts. He allows only Lobot to help fix C-3PO whose arm is irreparable while they’re stuck here.
When the bolt comes around again without losing energy, Lando explains that they are in an accumulator conduit. This ship is preparing to enter unfriendly space and is testing her weapons. C-3PO inadvertently caused an arc when he touched it.
When the ship groans again, Lando grabs a sensor limpet from the equipment grid and asks the closest route to the outer hull. R2 won’t help him, so Lobot points it out. Lando runs in that direction.
He burns a small hole in the bulkhead and anchors a line to the wall before the hole closes up and leaves his makeshift harness before heading back, noticing on the walls paintings of alien faces. They look wise. Lando apologizes for the damage he caused but hopes they understand.
C-3PO’s vocalizer is malfunctioning and all he can do is spout nonsensical phrases. Lando tells him to work on his diagnostics. He tells R2 he’s placed a sensor limpet on the outside of the ship and needs him to try to figure out where they are.
The droid refuses to comply and tells him he’s on strike, along with several things to say about Lando’s leadership ability. Lando points out that he’s the only one who can. If he doesn’t, the organics will die and the droids will power down. R2 agrees to help, but only for C-3PO’s sake.
He finds they are near Prakith which is controlled by an Imperial warlord. No use sending for help here. Lando decides they’ll all get six hours rest and apologizes to R2. He never meant for his friend to get hurt.


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chapter 4:

They oversleep but C-3PO’s vocalizer is corrected. The speed of the ship is negligible so they haven’t gone far.

Lobot has been thinking about their experiences so far. He believes they have erred in assuming there is a consciousness involved here. He thinks they assumed that the panel Lando touched in the first compartment was a door release and the ship felt threatened. But he thinks it might have actually been an emergency release. After all, the most prominent feature on a ship is the canopy release.

Lando reminds him that the ship tried to attack them later, too. Lobot points out that they were cutting a hole in it that it was unable to close by conventional means. Any other opportunity the ship has had to kill them, it hasn’t taken. They could have been killed while they slept or during their trip through the accumulator conduits.

There is something in charge of this ship, but nothing sentient. Lobot thinks it’s very sophisticated automation. They know the controls respond to touch, but have assumed it responds negatively. That may not be the case.

He and Lando jet down the corridor and begin touching the walls. Colors and sounds emerge and, most importantly, a door opens.

In the meantime, the Glorious has found the remains of the equipment sled that they determine to have belonged to Lando but they cannot correlate the human handling on it to him specifically because his bioprofile keeps disappearing from Fleet records.

There is biological material on the sled so they send it to the New Republic to be analyzed.

Pakkpekatt is disappointed that he has no further ability to delay the departure of the rest of his ships. He logs an entry that four little ships in the dark are all the lives of the missing are worth. He feels great shame to be part of this.

They move through the ship, finding map rooms and gadget rooms. In one room, a fire erupts, burning part of a city on a map. They rush from the room until R2 confirms oxygen is returning. Lando thinks this is a history lesson. The Qella wanted them to know something terrible happened to that city.

He’s headed back to one of the earlier chambers.

In the meantime, the Bloodprice bearing the crest of Governor Foga Brill, local warlord, completes a mission and prepares to return to Prakith. But then spots an unidentified ship. They send a message back to Prakith that they are investigating.

They prepare an ion blast to disable the ship, noting that reinforcements will be here shortly.

R2 reports a ship approaching, but his view of the sensor limpet shows an Imperial escort frigate not from their fleet. It’s not the colonel and they cannot hope for rescue from them. A blast hits the vagabond and fries the limpet.

The ship reaches out and blasts the hull of the frigate, causing it to explode. Then it jumps to hyperspace with the other Imperial ships in pursuit.

Pakkpekatt receives orders to terminate his mission immediately. He contacts Coruscant, demanding Rieekan. He explains that his species cannot leave the bodies of comrades behind to an enemy. He requests additional time which Rieekan refuses. He then requests a volunteer team be allowed to search and then for a leave of absence for himself. Both are also refused.

He then asks that he be considered among the missing. Rieekan notes how important this is for him, despite how Calrissian flaunted his orders and took off, endangering himself in the first place. He allows Pakkpekatt to take three volunteers with the Lady Luck while Glorious returns.

The Colonel, Captain Bijo Hammax and two technicians leave with the Luck a little more than an hour later.

The backup team arrives on Qella to find the pilot standing over the avalanche site. They start working to dig down.


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Part II: Luke:
chapter 5:
On the Mud Sloth, Akanah really wants them to go faster. She fears they are being followed from Lucazec. Luke points out that the two agents are dead and they had no problems at the spaceport. Over her discomfort, he does get her to reveal the message on the wall. They are to go to Teyr where other children had been sent.
She doesn’t know if they’re still there, but they can find out. In the meantime, Luke doesn’t want to arouse suspicion by tearing out of here quickly. He does think he can make some modifications, though, that might help their trip.
She asks him not to kill anyone to save her again. He cannot promise that because he has to follow his own conscience. He defends the people he cares about; sometimes that involves killing others.
Akanah wonders if that is his philosophy for the entire Jedi Order. Mostly, she’s concerned about the New Republic using the Jedi. Luke assures her that they do refuse requests for assistance sometimes. There are no oaths taken to the Republic, except for those who serve in the military.
She thinks that’s a start, but it would be better if their most prominent symbol wasn’t a weapon.
He shows her how he can use the Force to change his appearance to someone less conspicuous. She uses it to reveal him, just in case they ever get separated.
After they make their first jump-out, they head in the direction of Teyr. Along the way, Luke ponders the ruins of his mother’s house. He wonders if he could make inquiries at Lucazec about preserving it. If the ruined Lars farm could be rebuilt as an historical monument, then he might be able to preserve the Fallannassi village.
That would have to come later, when there were fewer secrets to protect.
He asks if she knows how long the message has been there. She says there’s no way to know but that it was before the Current left Lucazec. Luke finds it odd because, if it’s been there for years, how would two Imperial agents live in an area where everyone knows each other. Why would they think anyone would come back? Why would they wait for her specifically?
She says that she was not discreet when she first began searching for her people. She made a great many inquiries around spaceports and sent messages to Wialu. Eventually, some became interested in her. She learned to be more careful later.
Her guardians on Carratos were not helpful. The woman, Talsava forbade her to speak about the Fallanassi and was punished if she tried to search. He urges her to get some sleep and spends the time pondering why he feels as if his questions really weren’t answered and that the most important ones weren’t asked at all.
Teyr is quite bureaucratic and Akanah nearly goes crazy with worry at the long wait to land. She keeps trying to get Luke to try something to get them there sooner and frets that they are being delayed because there’s an ambush in motion.
On the planet, they land in an open bay across from an Elomin and move through customs. Playing the part of a couple on vacation, they head to tourist kiosks where Luke senses someone is watching him.
He turns to see Akanah but she is crying. He goes to her and she reveals that this place is too loud and busy for her people to have stayed here long. She’s thinks she’s too late. They will need to go to the city of Griann where the other children were taken.
He senses that feeling again and notes an Elomin nearby. The Empire would not use an Elomin as an agent. But he can’t forget that one parked his ship near theirs and wonders if they really were being delayed on purpose.
  • Whenever the Lars homestead has been mentioned in all the previous books post-ANH, we get two impressions. The first is a burned out ruin scavenged by Jawas and critters. The second is the home of Gavin Darklighter’s parents who bought the place. We’ve even visited it in a couple of books. None of them ever referred to the farm as a restored historical monument. Really?

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chapter 6:
They head toward Griann. Along the way, Akanah wishes Luke hadn’t brought his lightsaber. She hopes he remembers what she asked. He hopes she remembers he made no promises.
Akanah thinks she’d never take up a weapon again if she’d been responsible for a million deaths. Luke surprises her by knowing the exact number aboard the Death Star. He reminds her that she has to consider Alderaan and the other lives that the Empire costs. Sometimes, your opponent doesn’t give you a choice but to fight.
The lightsaber is a defensive weapon, predominately, but it also forces the wielder to look his opponent in the eye so that killing is much more personal than shooting across a room with a blaster. Ideally, the wielder will be much more careful to avoid death.
In Griann, Akanah provides the address of one of her friends who sent her a message once. She responded but never heard back. Luke thinks that someone probably impressed upon her friend the importance of not revealing your address when you’re in hiding. Akanah thinks the Fallanassi came and took her away. She would know her friend anywhere so, if she’s here, she’ll know.
The house is gone. A neighbor confirms a cyclone hit the area and got several houses, including this one. He remembers the girl who lived here. They weren’t here long, though. Luke asks if she can see any messages through the landfill. She looks, but it’s like a meteorite arrived and knocked it down. Luke decides to check the city records.
They found that her friend had been living with someone named Trobe Saar. The droid at the records department gives her last known address. Akanah is excited because the name on the records is a Fallanassi name. They head to the right district.
Along the way, on the smooth train way, Akanah sleeps while Luke considers where his mother could have gone. Did she see too much of their father in Luke and Leia? Is that why she never contacted them?
He notices an Elomin passenger sitting a few seats ahead. Elomin are orderly people. This is not the type of vacation one would take. He wonders if this could be a rogue who is working for the Empire.
The Elomin gets up and moves into the next compartment. Luke looks at his empty seat for anything left behind but only sees a Gotal infant in the next seat. Then the porter droid advises only passengers headed to the River District should move to a forward cabin. This car will be separating at a junction.
The Elomin does not come back, so Luke returns to his seat.
The name of the residence has been changed, but a security droid will not let them inside the multi-family building. Akanah is insistent that they were here. Luke wonders if a message might have been left on the outside instead.
She spots some writing on the wall, but the security droid spots them and threatens them if they don’t leave. She says the writing only identified the building name. What she needs is inside. She has an idea about how to get herself in. He’ll wait here because she doesn’t need anyone killed.
She returns later and won’t tell him what she found until they are away from here. She doesn’t even care what information he found out by checking the Commerce Bureau. The people who owned this building formed a corporation that invested in a ship called Star Morning.
It doesn’t explain why they didn’t retrieve her, of course. Akanah dismisses that. The Empire took over Carratos shortly after she arrived. Taxes were high to discourage fleeing the planet. If money was sent, her guardian may have kept it. As it was, the woman took off and abandoned her when she was 15 anyway.
She says they are going to Atzerri.
  • You know, in reading Luke’s conversations with Akanah, I am really reminded of Leia’s with Nil Spaar. Akanah seems to be doing everything to convince Luke that she doesn’t want his help or protection, not revealing much of anything to him and Luke is going along with it because he thinks she has information he really wants. Not much different from Leia really.

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chapter 7:

On the ship outbound from Teyr, Luke scans to see if anyone is following them. Akanah assures him they are not. He points out that the men on Lucazec wanted something from her. She says they are hunting the Fallanassi, but won’t find them because they are hidden.

Luke reminds her that didn’t help the Jedi. She says the Jedi faced an enemy helped by the betrayal of one of their own. Luke counters that there are plenty of enemies out there, the warlords, the Corporate Sector, Admiral Daala who has few other hobbies…

She adds the New Republic to that list, too. After all, it sits where the old Empire did and anyone pursuing them could just as easily being from NR Intelligence. Luke thinks it’s laughable, but, at the same time, he isn’t sure why he knows the men on Lucazec are not sleeper agents. He also realizes the Elomin are too principled to work for the Empire. But the NRI could not have known about this mission unless Luke said something and he only spoke with Han and Leia, never telling them where he was going or who he was going with.

She thinks they are tailing him for that reason. Luke doesn’t know that anyone is tailing them at all. He asks if she knows anything about Atzerri. She only knows it’s a free trader world. He decides to make inquiries of the New Republic’s Ministry of State atlas.

While she sleeps, he contemplates why he is on this mission. She doesn’t seem to need him and she is not forthcoming with information. Wanting to feel useful, he contacts Ship Registry and has them forward information on the Star Morning. Then he also asks for a search on Akanah’s ship to be held for him. He doesn’t know why he did that, but it makes him feel unclean.

When she wakes up, she asks him about how to read the ship displays on the navicomputer. She asks how this ship will fare in a battle and, the truth is, not very well. Their best bet is to jump to hyperspace quickly. The hypercomm transfer pings and Akanah is unhappy to find that he has requested information. Luke tells her she’s welcome to disregard it, but he is not headed to their destination without knowing more.

Luke goes over them and finds that the Star Morning has been all over the place for the last fifteen years. Some gaps are there due to damaged or lost records during the war. Atzerri is not even on the list. He does find that it made port at Vulvarch twelve hours ago.

When he tells Akanah, however, she will not agree to change course, though it’s a shorter route. Luke doesn’t see the point of following 15 year old clues. The ship has had the same pilot in all that time so they are in the know. They can even send Star Morning a message.

Akanah says she can only sense an adept if they are beside her. It is the only way to know to trust them.

They don’t speak during the long hours, but she hovers in the cockpit, probably to make sure he does nothing else without her knowledge. This means Luke cannot read the report waiting for him about her ship either. He doesn’t even tell her when they jump out of the Teyr system.

When they wake up, he pulls up the report on Atzerri’s background that he requested. He lets her read it while he inspects the ship for anything out of the ordinary. Not finding anything, he returns and they talk about this world. A free trade world is not for the slow or the poor. Luke doesn’t think it sounds like one the Fallanassi would go to any more than they would go to Teyr.

However, he makes the jump out to Atzerri anyway, the report on Akanah’s ship still waiting for him.

They avoid each other for a time before sitting in the cockpit together. She believes he is one of the Fallanassi which is why she tells him what the messages are. They talk about the difference between the Current adepts and the Jedi. She is willing to teach a receptive mind, but she puts off teaching him to read the messages. After all, Luke would not adjust his teaching for an impatient student.

He has to want to learn when he is ready, which he is not. And learn for the right reason, which he does not yet have. Luke asks how he can show her his sincerity. Akanah tells him to leave his lightsaber behind at Atzerri. He will consider it, but only for the right reason.

She knows he has other questions for her. Luke asks why she waited to buy a ship when she could have traveled to Lucazec as soon as she got passage. Akanah explains that, if she’d done that, she would have been stuck on the planet. He saw it and there was no way to make a living there that would have gotten her offworld. She waited until she had a ship that would allow her freedom. She would have gone to Lucazec immediately, but she kept seeing him in her dreams so went to Coruscant first.

She believes he belongs here.


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chapter 8:

After haggling for berth fees, they land in an antiquated bay where Akanah announces that she is going alone. On the previous worlds, she knew the Fallanassi had gone. That may not be the case here. If she is accompanied by a stranger, they may not approach her.

If she’s not back in three days, he should come looking for her.

Luke kills time updating systems on the ship, doing Jedi training exercises and taking a shower.

Then he puts on his cloak, uses the Force to change his appearance, is confused when he cannot feel his lightsaber at his hip and moves on. In the marketplace, he avoids most of the hucksters, but gives in to a display advertising the Secrets of Jedi Power. He is given a cab to Galactic Archives where they are located. After haggling for the price, he is given the downloaded information on a reader and peruses the entertainment district while reading.

He stumbles on an establishment called Jabba’s Throne Room and morbid curiosity brings him into nearly an exact replica of the place. He spends time reading the Secrets data before being distracted by a couple of customers arguing over the current political issues. One thinks they cannot tolerate what’s going on in the Koornacht Cluster while the other thinks it’s not the Republic’s business and that Chief of State Organa Solo should be tried for treason.

He asks the waitress for a copy of the most recent newsrecords and then leaves as a makeshift Boussh comes in with a terribly-unconvincing Chewbacca for the stage show.

When he doesn’t find Akanah at the ship, he spends the night diverting his attention with absurdities about the Jedi and worrying about whether Akanah or Leia needs his help more.

Akanah finds a 15-story building that has seen better days. She announces herself and wants to speak with Joreb Goss. She tells Goss that she is his daughter by Isela Talsava Norand. Goss, however, cannot help her. He has taken doses of Rokna blue, a powerful poison that wipes memories older than a year. He has no memory of who Isela was and cannot provide any more additions to her stories.


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chapter 9:
She returns to the spaceport, refusing to take Luke where she’s been, telling him only that they weren’t there and she didn’t miss anything. She wants to sleep. He lifts off the planet.
While she sleeps, he reads the Ship Registry information about Mud Sloth. She was so intent on bringing him with her that he would have thought she’d be full of stories about his mother and her growing up years. But her stories in general are few and virtually none are about his mother.
He is relieved to find out that the ship is registered to her and that it left Carratos a few months ago, making one stop on the way to Coruscant before reaching the capital. What he finds disturbing is that there’s no record of it leaving Coruscant or arriving at any of its subsequent stops.
He wonders if she is pulling some elaborate decision and they are still in his hermitage on Coruscant. Then he wonders if she has managed to conceal both of them completely. If she’s that powerful, she should have had no problem getting off Carratos at all. Upon looking at the registry, he finds the sole prior owner had been an Andras Pell and the transfer of ownership had been due to an inheritance by marriage.
He uses the extra time to contact as many information sources as he can to find out about Akanah, Talsava or Andras Pell. The Obra-skai library is generous but time-consuming. He sends a command code to C-3PO and R2 on Yavin IV to go to Obra-skai to research for him.
Then he tries to get a trouble map from Fleet Command but is refused. He thinks about comming Ackbar but doesn’t want to answer awkward questions, so he just requests an official record of the last twenty days and hopes to read between the lines.
Before turning out the lights, he decides that Akanah has to give him a reason to trust her and to start trusting him.
He wakes up later and she’s staring at him. She says she hasn’t been fair to him and wants to tell him more. But he has messages first. He skips over the newsfeed from the public information offices and one from Streen on Yavin IV to find that results of his inquiries about the Fallanassi come back bone dry.
She explains that she really is Akanah Norand Goss who married Andras Pell. The man was much older than she and died a year later. She inherited his ship and a few thousand credits. Despite how it looks, she did not kill him just to get his ship.
She also knows he had to have done searches to substantiate her story but didn’t come up with anything. She did the same search herself before starting her journey. She and Talsava lived in the shadows of Carratos where the only people who count are those with property. So there was very little information anyway. The Imperial records were destroyed after the Empire left so everyone was given a clean start. There is nothing to find about her.
He tells her he thinks that they are, officially, still on Coruscant. She notes that he must have seen one stop before then on the records. He did but assumed, since it was on the way to Coruscant, it was an inconsequential one. Akanah explains she met an expert who put a smuggler’s black box on the ship that changes the ID transponder every time the ship jumps. He’d once worked for Talon Karrde but is retired now and doesn’t do this for just anyone.
Luke laments that they could have jumped anywhere they wanted to without fear, but she explains she encouraged him to take the safe route because she wasn’t ready to trust him yet.
But secrets build walls that lead to loneliness and she’s tired of that. She will teach him to read the messages and how to be a full member of the Current. She suspects he has other questions. He wants to know why the Fallanassi appear in no searches.
Akanah tells him they do their best to leave no traces of themselves where they go and, where traces appear, they erase them. The purpose of giving oneself to the Current is to take them where they are most needed.
He asks if she loved Andras and she did. He was kind and held her like a child. They are now going to the world of J’t’p’tan. It is in the Koornacht Cluster. There are interdictors all over the borderlines so they will make multiple jumps to get there.
He checks the newsfeeds to find that the Yevetha have attacked several colonies in their space. J’t’p’tan is not on the list of colonies but Luke worries that they may have missed their window of opportunity by mere days.
He lies awake thinking about how his life is divided between the time before he met Vader on Cloud City and the time after. Before, he was just another typical Imperial victim. The encounter on Bespin had changed him. Suddenly, 11 years have passed.
Akanah knew he wasn’t sleeping. She confesses that he was right about Star Morning. The message on Teyr had told her to go to J’t’p’tan. She’d wanted to stop at Atzerri to see her father. She didn’t tell him because she was afraid of what Luke would think of her if her father turned out to be someone she couldn’t respect.
Luke understands. He thinks Leia feels the same way about finding their mother. Leia has very few memories of her, but they are precious. He believes she fears that what she finds out will damage those innocent memories.
Her father is addicted to Rokna blue. He has no memory of her mother and no knowledge of her. He is a shell of the man he used to be and she will not see him again. Akanah had hoped he has some information that could help her. She cries in Luke’s arms until she falls asleep.
  • We have seen what happens to droids traveling alone in the galaxy. Why would Luke send R2 and C-3PO by themselves to Obroa-skai? Surely, he would send someone with them to make sure they aren’t pilfered. Besides, the droids aren’t on Yavin IV and I’m sure that message of Streen’s that Luke is overlooking for now is telling him that.

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Part III: Leia:
chapter 10:
Nil Spaar returns home to glorious accolades by his people. Such is the acclaim that he warns his second, Eri Palle, not to get too ambitious.
The Intrepid and the other Fifth Fleet ships are in the middle of a long hyperspace jump to the Koornacht Cluster. General A’baht doesn’t like going into a hot zone. Though Captain Morano reminds him that the prowlers General Solo left behind report no activity, they still cannot be sure what they find there.
Meanwhile, Spaar rides through the city, relishing the power he has over his people.
A’baht gets the world that the conflict code has been bumped up to yellow-two. Only because the Yevetha know they are coming. But they are apparently not coming out to meet the New Republic. A’baht would rather they did so he knows what they are facing. He will have to depend on the diplomats and the politicians to sort this out.
Another message hitchhiked to the official one is from Alpha Blue showing him the extent of the damage to the colonies. He sends his official report back to Ackbar with his recommendations for fleet deployment, protectorate defense and supply centers.
On the planet of Rathalay, the Solos relax at a beach. Leia, however, is still getting comms. She says there’s now been a challenge to her qualifications. Apparently, the New Republic’s guidelines would make Alderaan a non-existent state which would make it a non-voting member with only legate representation and a legate cannot be President. This was all decided when the Provisional Council was dissolved but there have been new members added since then who weren’t around for the original decision and want their say in it.
The Ministry Council could cause problems but the chairman was a friend of her father’s so it won’t get far. Ackbar will call her when all the fighting stops. Han grabs the comlink and throws it in the ocean.
They chat about the Organa’s idea of vacation and she is chagrined to find out she’s lived on Coruscant as long as she lived on Alderaan. He points out she never sees the outside of rooms while she’s on the capital. She thanks him for this trip. The Chief of State can be out of touch for two or three days.
  • Leia lived on Alderaan for 17 years. ROTJ was 12 years ago and Coruscant didn’t fall to the Rebels until 3 years after that. Leia’s been on Coruscant for 9 years, hardly as long as she lived on Alderaan and certainly not more than that. Unless she’s counting the time she spent in the Imperial Senate which really wasn’t all that long.

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chapter 11:

Admiral Ackbar arrives at the medical center where he is told Plat Mallar came out of bacta treatment and is sleeping. He goes to sit by the young man’s side until he wakes up.

The family returns to Coruscant where Leia heads to the Grand Ministry and asks immediately for the emergency petitions for membership.

When Plat Mallar wakes up, Ackbar introduces himself and tells him that he has things to say that are not easy to hear, but that he’s alive and can start living today if he wishes.

Leia brushes off an administrative aide’s concerns that she should wait to consult her senior ministers before she acts. She approves all of the emergency petitions, then leaves to speak with Councillor Jobath of Galantos.

Ackbar walks with Plat Mallar who doesn’t know how he will pay for 16 days of treatment. Ackbar tells him to consider it a gift from the New Republic. His report is the last they have from Polneye and Ackbar tells him he must consider that he might be the only survivor.

He explains that the Yevetha were enslaved by the Empire and then stole Imperial technology. They may have a significant battle fleet and it appears they are attacking settlements all over the place. Mallar wonders if the New Republic will respond. After all, they overthrew Palpatine and defeated the Imperial Navy on principle. Ackbar believes they will respond but that there will be a fight first. Democracies are slow to go to war because the provocation must be greater than the politics. Mallar decides he’s going to join their pilot corps so that, when the Republic does respond, he can be part of it.

Leia enters her office and has her aides send for Councillor Jobath. She also wants to see Behn-kihl-nahm. The Chairman appears and tells her only two members of the Ruling Council are not supporting her. One of them is, of course, Borsk Fey’lya, because he will be in a position to replace her if she is recalled. Leia would think Behn-kihl-nahm is the better choice, but he admits he will be tainted by his support of her.

The other is the Elomin Rattagagech whose specials value order and the last few weeks have been too chaotic for him.

Beruss has buried the qualifications questions under a mountain of procedure. Leia wants to know what they are strong enough to do about the Yevetha. Behn-kihl-nahm advises her to decide what to do and they’ll figure out how to make it happen, regardless.

She thinks they should ask the Defense Council what they are willing to do. The Chairman tells her that the initiative has to come from her. Leia reminds him that if she suggests taking the Fifth Fleet into drive the Yevethan back, then all of Peramis’s fears will be true. She hung herself with the rope Nil Spaar gave her.

He reminds her that they could use Plat Mallar. Leia thinks it’s objectionable to exploit him. If the politicians cannot be swayed by the deaths of millions, then they have no shame. The chairman points out that shame is a small commodity in politics. He warns her to lead the government because, if she chooses to be led, she may be taken someplace she doesn’t wish to go.

Drayson contact A’baht and explains that he won’t get more reinforcements unless he’s attacked directly. They have to give the princess evidence that will give her the strength to fight the Senate. A’baht protests that their prowlers have come up with nothing against the Yevetha.

Drayson suggests he deploy a prowler further out near the Yevetha forward base. That might get their attention. He also mentions moving some ships to protect some of the other settlements might be in order.

When he realizes Drayson is suggesting that he reduce the size of his fleet to provide a tempting target for the Yevetha, A’baht maintains that he will not risk his men like that. Drayson understands but points out that many issues would be simplified if an attack happened. Whatever he decides, make sure that prowler gets deployed.

Plat Mallar insists on walking into the recruiting station himself. He’s out in less than an hour, telling Ackbar that he is ineligible to volunteer for anything. Ackbar tells him to wait here and storms into the station, bellowing at the major in charge and the recruiter who turned Mallar down.

The recruiter explains that Mallar did not have a certified school on file and is not even a New Republic citizen. The guidelines require both. Ackbar thunders about how the Rebellion never would have turned down someone willing to fight for them. The Major attempts to explain that they have to have standards.

Ackbar will hear none of it and, when his lecture is over, he storms into the waiting room to find it clear of everyone, including Mallor.


  • Remember the thief who failed to make it into Wraith Squadron? Remember the other ones Wedge turned down? I wonder what would happen if Ackbar showed up and yelled at Wedge for turning down someone who just wanted to fight along side him! I doubt that either the major or the recruiter established those guidelines for admission, but they are required to enforce them. I lost a little respect for Ackbar yelling about the guidelines. If he doesn’t like them, he should use his influence to change them. And then take responsibility and not come back shouting about how poor the recent recruits are!

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chapter 12:

Ackbar goes to Leia and finds her listening to her main opposition in the Senate criticizing the favored status of Alderaan again. He reminds her that the New Republic is a gathering of peoples, not worlds. She knows that, but Alderaan’s survivors are only about 60, 000 and some object to someone from Alderaan ruling a more populous world. He points out that she does not rule on behalf of Alderaan, but on behalf of all the worlds of the New Republic, regardless of whether or not that world has a population of 60, 000 or six. She appreciates the support.

On that note, he has an application for membership for the world of Polneye at the behest of its only survivor. Leia notes she’s been manipulated. He says that she’s already caused controversy with her other approvals so one more won’t matter.

Leia agrees and sends for the endorsement tablet.

In the meantime, the consul of Paqwepori, Belezaboth Ourn, is tired of waiting for Nil Spaar. He had allowed damage to his ship at the spaceport when the Aramandia abruptly left, as well as provided information to the viceroy, in exchange for the latter’s promise of a grand Yevethan thrustship. He’s been trapped here on Coruscant ever since with no word from Spaar and no answers to his hails.

When Spaar returns the transmission, he is apologetic and advises Ourn that his allies are concerned about the Consul’s lack of opposition to the Chief of State and, of course, about the massive fleet in Yevethan space.

Ourn explains the princess is too weak to actually use the fleet and, as it is, there are daily denouncements of her in the Senate. She may even be recalled. Spaar is more concerned that the fleet itself be recalled. Under the circumstances, he just cannot part with one of their ships which may be needed for defense.

Of course, if Ourn could persuade the others of his loyalty, that would go a long way toward easing their fears. Spaar asks him to keep his eyes and ears open for valuable information. Ourn is more than happy to do so. In fact, the latest outrage has been the Princess’s approving over 20 emergency membership applications.

First Administrator Engh and Behn-kihl-nahm insist that Leia speak to her Cabinet. She doesn’t think they need to hear from her to do their jobs. They remind her that this is a different time and place. Sometimes those at the bottom need reassurances from those at the time. This is one of those times. She should allow for a few days’ notice, but needs to direct this meeting.

It goes better than expected and she has time to meet Han for lunch, but gets diverted by Engh who wants her to know the calls coming in from the public are discouraging. They are ignorant, based on lies and misinformation, but they need to be addressed. He wants her to allow some buffing of her public image.

Leia refuses, explaining that they shouldn’t pander to the public by excusing poor judgment because someone has a nice smile. Mon Mothma never catered to public image strategists and she went through tougher times than this.

At lunch with Han, though, she listens as he tells how an old friend of him sent him a copy of a news article questioning if Leia craved her royal crown. He jokes about killing his friend if he doesn’t apologize. Of course, he might not be sincere if he does. And there’s always the chance the children will start hearing things.

Leia reconsiders Engh’s suggestion.

Ackbar takes Mallar to the pilots’ field to an X-Wing, gives him a flight suit and means to teach him how to fly one.


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chapter 13:

Leia meets with the Defense Council. Peramis is gone, having begun the process of withdrawing his homeworld. His replacement is from the pacifist world of Clak’dor VII so she’s not likely to get less opposition.

She shows them the images documenting the atrocities on the colony worlds. She reminds them that there are hundreds of worlds outside the Cluster that do not have the ability to defend themselves and many of them are New Republic worlds. If they allow the Yevetha to get away with this, they will continue to behave aggressively.

The Clak’dor is concerned about the origin of these images. For all they know, it could have been done years ago during the Rebellion. The chairman points out that they cannot have the luxury of exacting scientific data the way a scientist does. They must trust their spies or, when that is not good enough, their eyes.

Marook agrees and readily admits the images are disturbing. However, they happened weeks ago and nothing can be done to change them. If the New Republic is going to avenge past injustices, why are they not going into the Core in search of Palpatine’s agents. He thinks this is more about boosting her political power.

Tolik Yar protests, especially in light of Marook’s visit to Nil Spaar before all of this went down, something he’s never fully explained.

Meanwhile, Senators Cundertol and Zilar fret about this always being the way it is with aliens, nothing but fighting. Behn-kihl-nahm calls for order and, by the end of the session, they reach a compromise that makes no one happy. But, at least, they’re all willing to support it.

Within a few hours, Leia and the New Republic leadership appear in a transmission in which she demands that the Yevetha withdraw from the worlds they’ve seized and release any prisoners they may be holding.

After five days with no response, a deep-space probe in the Koornacht Cluster picks up additional landings on Doornik 319 that they can only interpret to be the Yevethan response. It’s decided to blockade that world, hoping a show of force will get them to back down.

The Fifth Fleet is sent there under A’baht who transmits Leia’s message regarding the blockade. At first, there is no response, but then they are hit by Yevethan ships which leave shortly thereafter. A’baht will not allow pursuit. This is the chance to get more information. After ordering debris and bodies picked up, A’baht contacts their secondaries and gives orders for the task force to hit the Yevetha back hard.

Task Force Aster is hiding near Doornik 319 and prepares to hit the Yevetha. They are distracted when the ships begin broadcasting pleas from hostages taken from the Cluster worlds. The hostages state their names and their homeworlds, explaining that they are being held aboard the ships and will be killed if the New Republic attacks. This causes consternation among the pilots. And in the end, though the attack goes on anyway, it doesn’t go well.

A’baht knows that the hesitation on the part of the pilots cost them greatly. Over 1000 casualties. The ships jump in twos and threes. He knows that the Yevetha are not afraid of them or of dying. The New Republic now has the war it didn’t want.

Behn-kihl-nahm rushes to a meeting, stops to view the sign commemorating 1000 days without a shot fired in anger and tells the maintenance man to take it down. It’s not needed anymore.


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chapter 14:
Leia is summoned before the Ruling Council which was put into the New Republic constitution as a way to control the power of the President. Since Palpatine had taken control legally, the Ruling Council has the ability to both void the election of a President or recall a sitting one.
When she arrives in the chambers, she finds that Senator Praget has submitted a motion for recall. Since it would normally be his turn to chair this session, it’s been decided to let Senator Beruss do that for procedural sake this time.
Leia expected Borsk Fey’lya to be the one to bring the petition. She’s charged with exceeding her charter, endangering the peace, issuing illegal orders and incompetence. Praget gives his thoughts on the matter, then withdraws the accusation of incompetence when Senator Rattagagech takes longer than he likes to question Leia.
Borsk Fey’lya, instead of taking the kill, only asks Leia if she would make the same decisions now given the same information she had at the time. Leia points out that she consulted with the appropriate departments before making each decision and would do the same again. The vote is only 2-5 against her. After they leave, Leia asks Behn-kihl-nahm what happened.
He explains that Praget brought the accusation because he was miffed that she hadn’t utilized his resources. Fey’lya would have brought the accusation himself but he realized that Praget did this too soon. He knew the vote would go in her favor as soon as the decision was made to not let Praget chair the session. Behn-kihl-nahm will not disclose who brought up that issue, but Leia doesn’t need to know. She just wants to give her thanks.
Nil Spaar speaks with Tal Fraan who helped defeat the New Republic fleet. The proctor explains how he heard the New Republic dispatches mention prisoners and realized that they were a consideration. He knew their forces would not countenance firing on their own. Nil Spaar is impressed, but warns him against being too confident in his own abilities. If he fails, he will serve Spaar’s children.
Leia interrogates former Imperial Davith Sconn who’d spoken with Intelligence a few months ago about his experiences on N’zoth. Intelligence had expected he wanted them to believe he knew more than he did since the New Republic had little ability to verify. She wants to know more. He gives her a hard time before asking to be brought up into a ship.
Though suspecting he may try to escape, she gives him what he wants. When he sees the the shine of a rising star over the planet for the first time in 12 years trapped in prison, he tears up. He asks her to sit him in front of that view and he’ll tell her whatever she wants.
Later, Leia shows Admiral Ackbar the holo of Sconn’s discussion. Their ship had to put in a Black Fifteen, a station above N’zoth. Conscripts had to stay in the yard, but officers could go down to the planet, though it was discouraged. Sconn went down when a colleague of his explained how violent the Yevethan were. Those of a high status could kill lower status beings with impunity. It got so bad that the Imperials were losing too many trained technicians. They tried to put a stop to the killing, but it never really happened. They have claws that retract into their wrists, hiding them with long sleeves. Leia remembered that Nil Spaar had worn them.
Sconn witnessed killings himself. His C.O. restricted everyone to the yard when he heard the report. Another thing about the Yevetha is that they are very clever. They learn very quickly to not only duplicate technology they’ve seen, but also improve on it. He doesn’t think they ever got access to a whole Imperial ship, but it would be bad if they did.
Leia lets General A’baht know that they will be sending ships to protect some of the worlds along the Koornacht Cluster. He would also like to have recon-X fighters to scan each world in the Dushkan League to get an idea of what’s going on out there. They don’t expect to get a lot of data and the casualties will probably be high, but they need information now and no other quick way to get it.
Plat Mallar finishes his simulation, frustrated. Admiral Ackbar brings him his orders. He will be shipping out with the next ferry flight. Mallar thinks it’s something, at least. Ackbar points out that if he does get out there, it’s because someone with more experience than him didn’t do any better against the real thing than Mallar did in his simulation.
  • The Ruling Council has the ability to void an election? What’s to prevent someone from bribing the Council or blackmailing them or whatever into voiding a duly elected President? How does that prevent a dictatorship?

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chapter 15:
Rone Taggar’s mother had died at Endor. Now, as he approaches his recon mission to N’zoth, he touches her wings and hopes he will make her proud. A mass graveyard of ships awaits him.
Leia and Ackbar had argued over who to invite to the data retrieval from the recon-pilots. In the end, Leia had prevailed over Ackbar’s reminder that senators that try to remove her from office are not allies.
They watch the displays of vessels picked up, many of them comprising larger ships than even the New Republic has. The Imperial shipyards seem to have been relocated, but cannot be find. The recon vessels begin to wink out one by one.
Taggar’s ship is disabled, but he still gives himself time to get out before the tractor beam picks him up. Unable now to move, he destroys the R2 unit and plays unconscious while the ship is pulled in. Once he knows he will not escape from this, he touches his mother’s wings and then jabs his hand with the needle that ends his life while causing the ship to self-destruct.
Nil Spaar is furious and demotes the underling who allowed the ship and hostage to be destroyed. He compliments Tal Fraan for his knowledge of the vermin.
Meanwhile, Leia, Han and Ackbar look over the preparations for the dispersal of patrols, as well as the protection of Coruscant. A fleet is being sent to Farlax, but A’baht will not be in charge. Han is. He is not pleased to hear this. For one, he thinks it makes Leia look indecisive constantly changing commanders. For another, he was getting used to life without a uniform and he’d almost believed her when she said she’d wanted a normal life.
It turns out Han was a compromise. Leia’s supporters want someone who will be on her side and Leia’s opponents believe he’s independent enough to do what he wants without being directed by her.
Senator Peramis had found Senator Cundertol under the influence and was happy to ply him with more wine while the other babbled about putting a pirate in charge of two battle groups. When Cundertol was incapacitated, Peramis took his key and was able to access the Defense Council’s briefings as well as Cundertol’s own personal messages which reveal him to be significantly more xenophobic than he demonstrates in public. The briefings reveal what Peramis already suspected: that Han Solo is being sent to command the fleet.
At home, Peramis activates the box that Nil Spaar had given him months ago. He doesn’t think of himself as a traitor. He’s only trying to prevent the militarism that the Rebellion had been forced to topple all those years ago. A victory now would make Leia invincible politically. He connects the box and plays Cundertol’s rantings. But he doesn’t have the stomach to listen to the man’s views again.
Commodore Solo’s ship is met by massive Yevethan forces. Plat Mallar watches ship after ship be destroyed while the Commodore’s shuttle is captured. He feels helpless, angry and uncertain as to why some of them are being left alive.
He realizes that it’s so they can go back and tell the New Republic what has happened.
Han is taken to Nil Spaar who isn’t too impressed by him, though he suspects that Han is stronger in personality than Leia. Han doesn’t try diplomacy, pointing out that Spaar has replaced Jabba the Hutt on his list of least liked beings. And he’s got Leia pegged wrong. Spaar will find out how strong Leia is now.
So Spaar has him beaten.
Ackbar unhappily arrives at the Solo residence to find Leia holding Jaina and whispering to her. He explains he’s there to deliver a message to her. Behn-kihl-nahm has accompanied him. He apologizes for this. Doman Beruss has issued a summons for her to appear before the Ruling Council. He feels that she is too personally involved in this issue now.
  • When Nil Spaar demotes his underling, he declares him a shamed one. Interesting.
  • Leia’s been Chief of State for several years now. I’ve lost count of the number of time she’s dealt with personal issues at the same time.

End of Book 2

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