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"Tyrant's Test": Book 3 in The Black Fleet Crisis


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chapter 1:


On Kashyyyk, Chewbacca takes his son, Lumpawarrump, through the jungle for his coming-of-age ceremony.


In the Koornacht Cluster, Plat Mallar and the other pilots approach the Venture, noting its guns pointed at them and hope they don’t get into too much trouble for losing the commodore. They are brought on board one at a time, their vehicles inspected and held for debriefing.


During Mallar’s interrogation, he explains everything he did before leaving Coruscant and everyone he spoke with. The interrogator is particularly interested in his unusual friendship with Admiral Ackbar. However, it appears the pilots did not have enough time to alert the Yevetha as to where and when they could grab Commodore Solo.


He’s asked why he and the others were left alive. Mallar thought it was to send a message back, but now he thinks the Yevetha wanted them to feel insignificant, as if any efforts they could make are futile.


He is told not to think that. They’ll get their chance to hit back.


Meanwhile, Chewbacca receives word that Han has been captured by the Yevetha. One of his cousins promises to take over Lumpawarrump’s ceremonial journey so he can return to Coruscant.

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chapter 2:
Han wakes up in a cell with Flight Engineer Barth and the corpse of the man’s captain. There is no plumbing, no water, no food. Barth thinks they’re being held as hostages to force the Chief of State to back down. Han doesn’t believe that will work and, if it did, he’d find a way to kill himself first.
Barth doesn’t understand smuggler language so Han impresses on him the importance of watching what they say in this cell because they are likely being watched.
Illodian Senator Doman Beruss receives Leia in his home on Imperial City. He assures her he will drop the summons for her to resign if she agrees not to war with the Yevetha over rescuing a loved one or avenging a casualty. He thinks she is too close to the situation to make an objective decision. As Chief of State, she must value all of the lives taken equally. He knows humans well enough to know that she may not be able to put Han’s life equal to the other two prisoners.
She refuses to limit her options for dealing with the Yevetha, especially when they do not know why they are doing this. Beruss had been a friend to her father for years and she used to consider him like family.
Chewie refuses to let his cousin, Freyrr, take over and calls Lumpawarrump back. He is incensed when he finds that two of his cousins have been working on the Falcon and it is not ready. They assure him it will be when he boards and gets clearance to leave.
Chewie’s wife, Malla, is concerned when he plans to go straight to the Koornacht Cluster, regardless of Leia’s request to come to Coruscant. He heads up into the ship and Malla turns to Freyrr and Shoran.
As it turns out, Jowdrll has made modifications to the ship that were long overdue and that Chewie actually appreciates. She does hope he will bring her along on this journey, but he will not allow it. He finally acquiesces and then sees his wife standing with Shoran and Dryanta. They wish to come as well. Chewie will need extra hands to help.
Lumpawarrump begs to come, too. His mother is opposed, but the son explains that he is neither a child nor an adult until he finishes his coming-of-age. The others will say that his cousins were good enough but not him. Over Malla’s protests, Chewie lets him come, too.
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  • Malla was speaking with Freyrr and Shoran before, but now it’s Dryanta and Shoran who are coming. What gives with that?
  • The gender of Doman Beruss has been confusing. We’ve been given male and female pronouns. Now, it appears there is a reason. The female Corellian Senator is Doman Beruss. The male Illodian Senator is Doman Beruss. Isn’t this entirely too much?

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Interlude 1: Vagabond
The vagabond leaps to hyperspace. There’s no hope for the sensor limpet and they are concerned about why the shields didn’t protect the ship from the ion blast. Lando realizes that it’s because the ship has organic mechanisms.
Lobot is becoming pessimistic. They are low on food and water, they are in an unknown area of space and the droids are going to need power. Lando points out that they aren’t being hunted, they’ve escaped from Prakith and that there is apparently enough air to keep them going. They just need to find the important areas of the ship that keep eluding them.

Lady Luck but they risk whoever shows up in it either getting too close or firing on it. They need control first before bringing anyone else in.

In the bow, they find a huge shadow box of the Qella homeworld, as if they were standing in it themselves.
The excavation on Qella brings a body that Drayson has taken to a lab where a colleague of his begins extracting biological samples.
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chapter 3:
Commodore Carson comes aboard the Intrepid to greet his old friend, General A’baht.
At the briefing, he introduces his senior officers and explains the situation at hand. They have ten task forces that will operate under one unit. Their enemy is strong and determined and this is their turf. Finding the shipyards is a priority.
Luke and Akanah talk about his father. He doesn’t talk about Vader much because everything he knows, others know. Everything he doesn’t know, no one seems to know. He has no memories of his mother, father or sister or living anywhere other than Tatooine. Akanah suggests his mind might have been blocked so that he would not ask awkward questions or say too much.
Luke rather thinks that he and Leia were just too young to remember. It’s possible that even Leia’s memories of their mother were invented by her mind to fill in the empty spaces. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru say little about his father and nothing about his mother.
She thinks they may have been trying to protect him.
He believes that Owen just didn’t approve of them and resented having to raise him. He cannot remember his uncle without thinking of a hard-working, constantly annoyed man. His aunt wasn’t so bad, but she tended to cater to Owen. She deserved a better life and a better death than she got.
It’s been harder to forgive his father for what he did to them than anything else. That’s the difference between Yoda and Vader. Yoda chose a simple life. Vader wanted control. This is why the Jedi carry lightsabers. It’s not because they love killing but because they have to neutralize tyranny that comes when someone too powerful wants control.
It’s one of the First Principles of the Chu’unthor academy and one of the first principles of his own. It hasn’t prevented his students from failing or even himself from doing so. There’s some piece of the puzzle missing.
Nil Spaar advises that there are 80 enemy ships in their territory and that they cannot keep track of all of them. His advisors point out that their ships are now being loaded with hostages. It appears they fear death and do not like the sight of blood, even their own. Their great weakness is that the strong do not kill the weak and that the weak do not make way for the strong. Their great numbers are their strength but it is undermined by their great weakness.
It is suggested that the Princess is not yielding for many reasons. Perhaps she does not realize what is happening. They decide it’s time to display the hostages and, since blood is uncomfortable to them, they should remind the vermin that the Yevetha do not find it so.
Several postponements of the meeting occur and Leia sits for several days as Behn-kihl-nahm tries to persuade her to resign before Fey’lya gets the votes needed to put him in office, Rattagagech tries to use calculus to show her the changes of her winning and Chairman Dru thinks that Leia should just use the Jedi Knights to fight for them instead.
It is delayed no longer and Leia appears before the Ruling Council, protesting the need. She doesn’t know why Beruss is now among the timid who think that she would lead the New Republic to war to rescue her husband, but this is not the type of government she runs.
Behn-kihl-nahm offers her to take a leave of absence and allow Rattagagech to serve in her place. Beruss thinks that’s a good idea and, without a vote, dismisses to allow Leia time to consider it.
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  • I would like to point out that the military action in Koornacht Cluster was launched before Han was captured. Fireworks now aren’t necessarily because of his capture.

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chapter 4:


Plat Mallar goes to Colonel Gavin to implore him not to send him back to Coruscant. Gavin tells him that pilot assignments are his responsibility and that Mallar just doesn’t have enough combat experience. Mallar points out his experience in a TIE and that he shot down at least one Yevethan ship over Polneye. He begs the colonel to give him anything to do that will allow him to give the Yevetha the same kind of hurt they gave him.


The Mud Sloth is delayed at Utharis to make repairs. They are told that this will take longer than normal because of anxious people living here on the border of the Koornacht Cluster fearing the war. Luke knew there were some tensions and hadn’t bothered to tell Akanah about them, but he hadn’t realized the situation had escalated.


Worried at Luke’s ability to direct himself in the Current will be compromised by going into a war zone, Akanah tells him they have to leave now and get to J’t’p’tan. Luke reminds her that they can’t go anywhere without a hyperdrive and they definitely want one of those where they’re going. She fears that the Fallanassi will leave before they get there and they will have to search. If they cannot fix the ship, they could take one.


Luke refuses to steal a starship due to her impatience. She realizes he’s right and suggest she teach him more about the Current. Luke would rather prioritize finding as much out about the situation in the Koornacht Cluster before they get there. This troubles her as he is obviously putting loyalty to his sister above his lessons.


She tells him she thinks they’ve gone as far as they can together and it might be a good idea to separate. She walks off, hoping he will worry about her and that it will keep his mind off of other things.


Han and Barth are bored, hungry and thirsty. They are finally pulled from their cell and brought before Nil Spaar. Spaar is not interested in allowing Solo to be a martyr. He wants him to convince Leia to back down and allow the Koornacht Cluster to be the domain of the Yevetha forever.


Over Barth’s pleas, Han refuses to forget the dead and how merciless they were to the settlements in the Cluster. Spaar cuts Barth open and leaves him there.


At the hearing, Leia tells the others that this petition has been brought about by prejudged fears, not by anything she’s done. She refuses to take a leave of absence and challenges them to send their petition to the Senate. A vote of five to two against her sends it on its way.

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Interlude: Ambush:


The Gorath encounters the vagabond and is damaged, but it fires back enough to cause serious damage to the Gorath.


Inside the vagabond, Lando and Lobot realize the ship is injured. He does not intend to be captured here and is enraged whenPO uses the beacon to call the Lady Luck.


In the meantime, Col. Pakkpekatt and his small crew aboard the Luck make the jump to hyperspace.


Lando goes to check the hull for the extent of the damage, certain that there will be boarding parties soon. He finds the auditorium full of holes and it would appear that the holo of Qella was seen by the last eyes that ever would. Lando gets the idea that Lobot is siding with the two droids against him. This ship is making everyone crazy.


Col. Pakkpekatt loses control of the Lady Luck which automatically makes it own jump.


Meanwhile, Captain Gegak of the Tobay demands to know where the Gorath is and insists he’s been betrayed.

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chapter 5:
Luke refuses to be emotionally manipulated and goes to public news sources to find out more about the New Republic’s situation. He gets very little and is reluctant to use his authorization codes to make private inquiries, fearing he will get stuck on a comm. with Ackbar, Han or Leia.
The temptation to use the Force is strong to those who wield it and he has seen what harm can be done. Leia herself had brought him back from the brink. He doesn’t want to offer himself as rescuer. Leia has to find the strength to handle crises herself and she has been increasingly reluctant to use her talents.
He realizes her training has been neglected and that of her children unbalanced. It’s as if she’s delaying actual training to avoid a path she doesn’t want to follow. Contacting anyone on Coruscant would only have them beg him to come help her.
His messages are typical fans-asking-for-help, Imperialists refusing to accept change, marriage proposals, would-be Jedi and others that he ignores. Two messages are from Streen. The first one reminds him the droids are with Lando Calrissian, the second one confirms he doesn’t know where Calrissian is or how to get ahold of him. Luke assumes Calrissian took off with the droids for some scheme. The droids don’t need to go to Obroa-skai anyway as Luke will have his answers in a few days.
Then he checks for any Fleet installations in the area and finds the New Republic Defense Fleet Installation – a tiny listening post. He gets a copy of the current tactical briefing memorandum and leaves, wiping the memory of his visit.
The situation is precarious. He finds that J’t’p’tan was indeed attacked so it’s likely that the colonists are now hostages. It seems that his and Leia’s missions are intertwining anyway. He uses the Force to push his ship to the top of the repair list.
Akanah admires a ship, tempted to take it because of the combat limitations of the Mud Sloth but decides against it.
Plat Mallar is qualified for a fleet gig and is told to come back and test for the fleet launch later. His first assignment is to ferry Colonel Gavin to another ship. Gavin makes sure Mallar is okay with being in a ship that isn’t designed to fire. Mallar points out that it frees up an experienced pilot to do the fighting for him. Gavin says that’s exactly how to look at it and that he will get a lot of experience flying this.
Han is taken aboard the Pride of Yevetha to be detained there. He is put in a hold with no more than a hundred people all of them representative of the colonies that were attacked and none of them knowledgeable about why they are here.
Drayson is tired of reading attacks on Leia. He complains to Ackbar that she has got to release the news of Han’s capture. As it is, leaks and inquiries will do it for her. Ackbar explains that she is protecting her children. Drayson points out that the children probably know more than she thinks. Ackbar agrees but he has chosen to support her on this matter.
Drayson goes over several inspiring stories of the conflict and settles on Plat Mallar. Then he determines he will give the scoop of this story to the young idealist Cindel Towani.
Belezaboth Ourn is in pitiful states. His damaged ship has been impounded, sold at auction to pay the lien and his diplomatic appointment cancelled. He is holding against hope that he will still get the Yevethan thrustship promised to him. But when he sees Plat Mallar’s story on the news, he knows those vessels are warships and Spaar will not be allowed to give one up. If only the Princess hadn’t been so stubborn. He picks up the black box transmitter, considers its worth and wonders if she will pay him for it.
He goes to the princess, explains Spaar gave him the box to stay in contact with him over the issue of restitution for his damaged ship, but Spaar has not been faithful to his promise. Leia guesses that Ourn was spying for Spaar. He denies it as he has no access to anything important. She doesn’t believe him, tells him he’s the one who got Han captured and knocks him out.
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  • The chapter says Luke also blocked the machine records of recording his visit in its logs. Did he use the Force on a machine? I thought that was impossible? At least, we were told that in Planet of Twilight!
  • Cindel Towani was the little girl in the TV movies “The Ewok Adventure” and “Ewoks: The Battle for Endor”.

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chapter 6:


Leia will not allow even her office to be exempt from investigating the Mallar tape leak. Meanwhile Rieekan has had Ourn interrogated and explains they don’t believe he told the Yevetha about Han’s mission. He broke down almost immediately and didn’t even know the general was missing.


They’ve looked over the black box for clues. Rieekan suggests to Leia that they use Ourn to continue to feed Spaar information. After all, Spaar won’t communicate with them at all. Ourn might be able to get information for them.


Tal Fraan goes to Nil Spaar and urges him not to release a recording of the hostages. He has come to realize that watching the execution of one of them will only provoke the vermin to fury and not fear. Spaar points out that the Imperials cooperate after a public execution. Fraan reminds him they have been serving the Yevetha for years and the fight has gone out of them. This is different.


Spaar has heard from Ourn that the Princess does not believe her husband has been captured which means the witnesses left behind were disregarded. He thinks they will have to show her the truth.


Fraan urges him not to take that route. They are strong, but there are shadows in which the vermin are afraid to enter. Already those in the princess’s circle are allowing their fears of facing the horrors of the past to stop them from acting. The Yevetha should let those forces destroy her.


Leia is awakened from a nap by an aide who advises her that Nil Spaar is communicating for the first time. Spaar reiterates lies about Leia’s aggressiveness, spying and sabotaging her negotiations with him. Then he explains they’ve opened up their borders to an alliance with the Empire. A black-uniformed officer with a Star Destroyer in the background stands with him.


No one in the room believes this is true. The Yevetha hate the Empire. This transmission has to have been faked to justify why the Dushkan League is using the missing Star Destroyers.


First Administrator Engh points out that none of that matters. This message went out to everyone and the people of the New Republic will believe what they see, not what their government says in response.


Chewbacca stops on Tholatin for supplies and tries to get information on whether Han really is a prisoner of the Yevetha before jumping to N’zoth. His friend, an information broker, is able to provide him with copies of Nil Spaar’s recent public addresses and some other data.

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Interlude III: Derelict:


Lobot and C-3PO reach the core passages where the former removes his contact suit and tells the other he’s following a hunch. They discuss how sentient beings make decisions before he moves on.


Lando fixes the hull punctures in the auditorium and tries to comm. Lobot. C-3PO explains where he is. They don’t get much more before the ship moves again. They have company once more.


Drayson receives three datacards with Qella genome on it. It turns out their genetic code is huge; almost 5% of their body weight.


The Lady Luck comes out of hyperspace to find the derelict Gorath. Hammax goes over to check it out while Pakkpekatt gets a strange message that includes the Qella genetic code he’d asked for. Someone out there obviously knows he’s on board this ship.


Hammax returns to report that the ship is dead and they surmise it was destroyed by the vagabond which prompted Calrissian to call for his ship. When the Tobay arrives, he decides they are headed to the vagabond’s point of origin and transmit the genetic code to them through New Republic transmitters. Maybe it will return home and they can stop chasing it.


Lando finds Lobot chanting in some strange language. The area is full of little pods. It appears Lobot has learned how to speak to the Qella. They will explains things to him but not give him control. He thinks they are injured and returning home. The small pods are Qella. The ship is an egg.

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chapter 7:


At ILC-905, the Vanguard and the Indomitable stumble across what they believe to be a shipyard. While engaging Yevetha ships in battle, the Vanguard is destroyed. Tuketu and Skids work to destroy one of the thrustships.


Spaar is enraged that Fraan’s suggestion of announcing an alliance with the Imperials would cause the New Republic to back down didn’t work. One of their shipyards has been destroyed. He kills Fraan and orders Solo brought to him.


The New Republic officials watch the recording of a 20-minute beating Spaar gives Solo that leaves him unable to stand. Spaar’s only words come at the conclusion and they are to leave Koornacht now.

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chapter 8:


Akanah knows there’s a ship here even before Luke does. The silence in the Current is what tells her this. There’s a brief conversation about whether or not they still trust each other.


She merges herself with the ship so that she is undetectable and explains to him that the ship cannot be seen by any others in the area. She urges him to go to J’t’p’tan without worry.


They find ruins on the planet and she runs off. Luke has no intention of being stranded anywhere on this planet, but cannot sense anyone nearby. He walks along and talks to Akanah, telling her he knows she’s real. He knows she didn’t run from an enemy; he knows she didn’t run from him. In fact, he thinks she ran to something which means she found what she was looking for.


She appears and introduces him to Wialu and her other friends. They thank him for returning her but he must leave now. He will not without speaking with Nashira. When Wialu resists, Akanah uses her powers to reveal a thriving city that they have hidden.


Luke warns them that the Yevetha have staked a claim to this planet, too, not just the region. If they are not willing to fight to protect themselves and the people living here, they may consider creating an illusion that will cause the Yevetha to pause before moving forward. He suggests they create an illusion that a massive New Republic battle fleet is here. They will have to wait until at least one ship is here so that the illusion is not quickly shattered.


Leia goes to see Mon Mothma who now looks much older than she did. She assures Leia that it’s just time that has changed her appearance. She is not so far out of the loop that she hasn’t heard about the situation on Coruscant and in the Koornacht Cluster. Leia doesn’t know what to do.


Mon Mothma advises her to decide which of the outcomes she wants to see will she be willing to let go of last. She faced the same type of choices fighting the Empire, but she’s older now and willing to risk less.


That leaves her with two choices and she doesn’t know how to choose. Mon Mothma thinks she does but doesn’t know how to live with the choice. Leia wonders when clarity left her.


Mon Mothma tells her Bail Organa had once told her not to expect acclaim when she succeeds or forgiveness when she errs, but even her enemies will respect commitment. Leia decides it’s time to draw a line in the sand.


Leia addresses the Senate and tells them she’s invoked an emergency powers act that allows her to declare war on the Duskhan League. She recounts the atrocities against the settlements in the Koornacht Cluster and their use of hostages as shields. They are evil and have to be matched. Any government that opposes this act can withdraw from the New Republic; the Senate may choose a new President after Nil Spaar is defeated.


She leaves the podium to both acclaim and disgust, knowing she’s done the right thing, but that she has probably doomed Han to death.

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  • I guess Leia doesn’t see Mon Mothma all that much.



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Interlude: IV: Malta Obex:


Lady Luck arrives in the Maltha Obex sector and finds a scientific vessel orbiting the Qella homeworld. Pakkpekatt gets into an argument over turf with the scientists down on the planet but piques their curiosity when they find out a Qella ship is coming here.


He gives them the genetic code material to examine and doesn’t tell them Calrissian is aboard the Qella ship until he knows for certain that he is still aboard. After examining the genetic material, it’s determined that the Qella stored vasts amounts of information in their genetic code, as if they were storing their own history and culture. In effect, the vagabond has not so much been designed as it has been remembered.


It arrives in system, too.

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chapter 9:


Drayson is told the Millennium Falcon is approaching N’zoth and makes arrangements to get them some kind of support. He will not allow this information to reach the Princess at this time.


Chewie gets a com from his friend the information broker who sends him a map of an assault plan on a Super Star Destroyer with the cell blocks marked. He wonders who this map was drawn for. They make the last jump to hyperspace on the way to their final destination.


They hit the Pride of Yevetha fast and hard, but find they are ultimately allowed to board the ship, perhaps so their enemies can meet them inside.


While Chewie and Shoran run through the detention blocks, the Wookiees on the ship are perplexed as to why none of the Yevetha or stormtroopers seem to notice the ship.


When Shoran is hit, Chewie calls back to the Falcon. Lumpawarrump and Dryanta head out to meet him. Chewie reluctantly tells his son to watch his back. But Han is not in any of the cells. Lumpawarrump tells his father that he keeps seeing a vision of Han in a large room with many hostages. He sees the characters D and 2. Chewbacca realizes they are in the detention holds.


The woman, Enara, wakes Han to tell him his friends are here. She has been trying to help them, but it’s too much for her to do. When Chewie bursts in and embraces his friend joyously, Han tells him they have to take all of the hostages. Enara tells him he must go. She cannot keep the illusion for long. She shows him that there really is only herself, Han, Chewie and Lumpawarrump here. The others escaped at the transfer point and got to Star Morning but she stayed behind to create the illusion of them so that no more hostages would be taken. She chooses this.


The Mud Sloth arrives and boards the Intrepid where Luke finds out the status by General A’baht. He has a plan to take this in a different direction. A’baht and his officers are not excited to trust something they cannot see, especially when they are convinced that their weapons are sufficient to win the battle.


When twenty New Republic ships arrive, Wialu uses her abilities to create the illusion that there are twice that. It takes a great deal of concentration, but they are impressed.

They are told that there’s an intercept by fighters for an incoming ship at high speed. Luke listens over the comm. and recognizes Shyriiwook. He tells them they’d better escort instead. It’s the Millennium Falcon.


Han and Shoran are taken off in stretcher. Shoran to the morgue; Han to the medbay. Lumpawarrump argues about being immersed in bacta for a leg injury. Chewie growls at Luke, wondering where he’s been. Luke can only explain that he didn’t know what was going on.


On the world of Pa’aal, the Imperial slaves are kept in misery. For the first couple of years to teach the Yevetha how to build and operate the machinery. After that, executions and suicides took more. Then a leader emerged and they began talking of escaping.


As some are set to work on ships from time to time, they collect items. Upon their return to Pa’aal, they begin assembling parts of the plan. When pulse-transceiver chips are brought back, the controllers are brought out and then given to their respective prisoners to take back to specific ships.

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chapter 10:


Luke finds Akanah who is less eager to speak with him now. She does not feel she is trained enough to be Luke’s teacher. She doesn’t know Enara on board the Pride of Yevetha or the limits of her power. She may or may not be able to help.


The Fallanassi have to stay on J’t’p’tan to shield the settlers from the Yevetha. She did not see Nashira there.


Luke meets Han in the medbay of the medical frigate he’s transferred to. Leia has been told about his recovery. Lumpawarrump has changed his name to Lumpawaroo after completing a rite of passage of sorts.


Chewie will be going to N’zoth with Luke, while Han is out of this battle.


A’baht offers to let Luke fly a fighter in the battle, but Luke declines. He’s going to help Akanah and Wialu. Since he’s asked for their help in this, he wants to at least show he respects their beliefs.


The surviving probes that had not been destroyed by the Yevetha herald the arrival of the New Republic fleet. Nil Spaar stares up at them as General A’baht demands the surrender of the seized colonies.


The Imperial slave aboard the Pride of Yevetha doesn’t touch his hand-built blaster yet, but is impressed by the maturity of the former Rebel Alliance. He waits for Nil Spaar’s predictable answer.


A’baht waits for an answer while the ships keep moving toward each other. Spaar finally gives his unintimidated response while the Imperial slave breaks open his comb, takes out a wand with three buttons on it, presses two of them and brings his blaster up, firing.


A’baht gets his pilots to their fighters and is told the Imperial ships are slowing down.


On board the Intimidator, there are 513 Imperials compared to about 15,000 Yevetha. Ironic that what frees them from their enslavers is a slave circuit. They contact General A’baht so that he will know who the New Republic owes its victory to. A’baht is advised that the Yevetha are his problem now. The Black Fleet jumps to hyperspace, leaving the Yevethan ships behind.


When the Yevethan commanders do not back down, A’baht determines that this is not the extent of their fleet. They will have to battle this out and pray for whatever hostages are still on those ships.


Wialu holds the illusion as long as she can until she collapses. She will stay and watch as a reminder of war. Luke asks her if there are Fallanassi aboard those ships. She confirms there are, but will not say if Nashira is among them. Those who are did so voluntarily to save others.


The battle is won as soon as the Imperial ships jump as they do wherever they were stationed. But the cost is considerable. The Yevethan thrustships are powerful enough. Plat Mallar is able to bring back dead and EV pilots until he takes the opportunity to jump into an X-Wing and enter the fray.


A’baht has never known an enemy that has forced him to destroy them completely rather than surrender. He tells Captain Morano that he doesn’t regret this, however, because of what the Yevetha would have accomplished in another couple of decades. They will have to make sure the Yevetha can never build another ship again.


Aboard the Intimidator, the Imperial slaves shove a bound Nil Spaar into an escape pod. It turns out that the Empire had tried as hard as they could to learn how to drop bombs in hyperspace. It could never work out right which is unfortunate as it’s very easy to drop objects into hyperspace itself.


He doesn’t know how long Spaar will last, but he does know he will die there. They eject the pod.

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Interlude V: Rendezvous:


While the Qerra researchers and Col. Pakkpekatt prepare to communicate with the ship, Lobot is in communion with it inside. He is heading into the inner chambers and asks Lando to come after him in twenty minutes if he’s not back by then.


Lando heads back to the droids where he tells C-3PO to shut up and has R2 scan for local space traffic. Lobot emerges and says he was told to go back to the auditorium.


Once again, the chamber transforms to a transparent panel where they are suspended in space. Lando wonders what Lobot told it to do. They are in a different system. Lobot maintains it’s the same system. Lando points out that it’s a new planet and there weren’t two moons. R2 scans and agrees with Lobot. C-3PO explains that, the first time, they saw Qella as it was. They are now seeing it as it is now.


Lobot realizes that they are looking at a scale model. One of the elements is this ship. The others, R2 identifies as an orbital relay and two ships, one of them Lando believes is Lady Luck. Lobot doesn’t want him to get too excited. If this is an accurate scale model of the type that R2 can identify small things, then they must figure out what happened to the moons of Maltha Obex.


Pakkpekatt and Colonel Hammax ponder what to do with the vagabond.


Lando and Lobot argue about the situation. Lando just wants to get back to the ship, but Lobot accuses him of not caring about the vagabond. Lando agrees that he doesn’t. Lobot points out that he can’t force the vagabond to listen to him. He will try, though, after Lando reminds him that the presence of the Lady Luck could mean the task force isn’t far away.


Pakkpekatt has a comm. signal sent on the same frequency Calrissian had used earlier. Lando’s unhappy to find out they’re on his ship, less so when he learns the rest of the task force has been called off. Pakkpekatt will be happy to take him home, but they’d rather do this safely.


The vagabond searches the surface of Maltha Obex as it has five times in the past, but doesn’t get the answer it needs. Its purpose has been unfulfilled as it’s been written into its programming to wait for the next move. Then a response comes from one of the small object around the planet. But it’s a different message. The vagabond knows this is a deception: something it identifies as belonging to a predator.


Taisden is on the flight deck when the vagabond sends a 14-second response. Pakkpekatt and Eckels are arguing about the fact that Eckels has just found out that a team from NRI is aboard the vagabond. Hammax is napping. Taisden’s call brings them all. The vagabond is accelerating toward the relay.


It destroys the satellite, then another. Pakkpekkat tries to contact Calrissian, asking him if his ship has a cloaking device or something that will protect it. Then they contact Captain Barja aboard the Penga Rift, ordering him to leave for the protection of the others.


Calrissian warns them that the vagabond isn’t ray-shielded so a good hit could stop her, but it would have to be on the first shot. Also, he mentions that the Lady Luck is uninsured.


In the background, Pakkpekatt can hear Lobot protesting any harm to the ship. He ignores it and sends a secure Hypercomm to General Rieekan. He explains that they could leave the system, but would risk losing the vagabond. He’d rather stay with it. They will need bigger firepower, though. A couple of Star Destroyers should do it.

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chapter 11:


Luke meets Wialu and Akanah on the ship. Akanah tells him that they are leaving now. Wialu explains that they aren’t needed at J’p’tan anymore. It’s time they’ve earned back their privacy.


Luke admits he wasn’t really expecting an invitation to come along. Akanah is sorry she couldn’t keep her promise. Luke knows this, as well as how she knew she couldn’t keep the promise that got him to come with her in the first place. They have followed all the markers that led Akanah to Wialu, but Akanah must have known that the Fallanassi wouldn’t help him.


Akanah admits that Talseva was her mother: Isela Talseva Norand. She was the one who brought the Empire down on the Fallanassi. As punishment, she was banished. Akanah was not, but Isela took her daughter anywhere. The girl was promised that there would signs left to help her find her people again. Nashira was someone who’d come to talk to her mother on Carratos. Akanah doesn’t know why she’d come, but she’d lost her children – a boy and a girl – to the Empire. It was easy to imagine that she might have been Luke’s mother.


They were never pursued by Imperial agents. She needed to deflect attention off of her. Luke’s power frightened her because she didn’t know how he balanced the forces within him. She thought she could give him something of what he was missing.


Upset and embarrassed that he was fooled, Luke tells her he cannot believe anything she says.


Before the Star Morning leaves, however, Akanah wants to resolve things with Luke once more. Wialu reminds her that Luke may only see the deception. Etahn A’baht is surprised when Luke appears. Akanah tells him that, if he could look past the initial lie, he would find the Fallanassi to have a peaceful, beautiful worldview.


Luke reminds her that all he’s seen of them are lies. But he knows what Akanah is trying to tell him and will try to consider that. Wialu tells him that, when his sister is ready for her own path, she would be welcome among them.


Luke looks over his messages: the Fallanassi search on Obra-skai has been moved up to five on the waiting list, Han is being transferred to Fleet hospital, Streen has compiled an entirely-too-detailed report of virtually nothing happening on Yavin and Admiral Drayson reports that they’ve found Luke’s missing droids but he’ll have to come get them himself.


Luke boards the Mud Sloth and heads out to the vagabond where Pakkpekatt is unhappy at this entire operation. Luke thinks he can get the team off; he’s glad when Dr. Eckels wants to come along.


He uses the Force to bump the ship along like a submarine underwater…he learned it from people who were good at hiding.


Lobot tells Lando someone is here. Soon, a voice comes through the comm.. Luke tells Lando that the vagabond has swallowed them up and even tethered them here. They seem to be in some kind of zero-g hangar.


Eckels has brought food and water which Lando appreciates. He complains that this place is nothing but a museum. Nothing they can take with them. It’s like flowers that are nice one day and dead the next. They will also have to get Lobot. His friend is nearly gone. He says he is waiting for the thaw.


Eckels notices that the tubules are similar to the Qella remains they found on the ice. They are even the same size and geometry. Luke believe this ship is alive. Eckels isn’t sure it is. These have no limbs and the ones they found on Eicroth were quadropeds.


But he wants to see the rest of the ship. Luke thinks it’s time they disconnected Lobot from these things before he can’t be retrieved.


It takes time for Lobot and Lando to recover, but Eckels goes on a tour. Later, he tells Luke that he knows what’s happened. Analyzing the recordings that R2 took, he’s realized that the moons are the key. There orbit was unstable. Maltha Obex has no moons, but Qella did. One of the moon’s orbits decayed. The Qella knew they were doomed. They didn’t have the technology to repulse the moon, so they built one ship to carry their ideas into space and preserve them. The bodies here are just controllers and protectors. The real treasure is the Qella culture.


Luke still thinks there’s something else. He reaches his senses out until he discerns a faint heartbeat. He realizes that the lifeforms down on the planet are dissenters, waiting for their planet to be rebuilt. This ship is a tool kit for doing just that and there are untold numbers of Qella down there waiting for the thaw so they can wake up.


Some time later, with the calculations done, the Mud Sloth sends bursts of energy down to the planet, then the crew transfers to Lady Luck where Luke uses his newfound exposure to the White Current to hide the vagabond. It’s better to let the Qella have their privacy. Over time, they will emerge and rebuild their society.


Eckels tells him that he’s given the Qella a future.

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Epilogue:


8 days later, Luke stands on the seacoast, pondering how he nearly became a slave to this place. Vader’s fortress didn’t need to be redeemed. It’s not time for him to seclude himself. When that day comes, he’ll find a better place than this. Using the Force, he destroys the place and scatters the debris.


Then he goes to visit Leia and her children who have just returned from the Fleet hospital to see Han. Leia sends the children off to bed. Luke tells her that he still wants to know more about their mother, but he realized that he couldn’t do that at the expense of the real family he has here right now. If she’ll have him, he’ll be happy to be part of her family.


Leia welcomes him home.

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End of Book 3


This was a very frustrating series. Watching both Luke & Leia clearly going on wild goose chases with Akannah and Nil Spaar, respectively, made me question their judgment. Further, the format changes for each book - standard chapters for the first with all storylines merged, sections labeled by character in the second and chapters with these interludes for Lando's quest for the third (demonstrating that there wasn't much to his plotline) was irritating.


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