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chapter 1:
Kueller stands on the roof of a tower on the planet Almania where he has recently wiped out the Je’har. He is soon joined by Brakiss who is eager to get off of this cold world.
He wants to see if the experiment works. Kueller assures him that he will know when it happens. Through the Force, Brakiss can sense the screams of others which fills him with warmth and an odd sense of joy.
Kueller dons a Death’s Head mask and assumes Brakiss wants to leave now. He is determined to show the young man the value of hate, but Brakiss won’t budge. Kueller had helped him after his life on Yavin IV ended, but he doesn’t owe the man anything else.
Brakiss decides he’s going back to Telti. Kueller insists he have the remote first. Brakiss turns it over to him and asks what Kueller wants when he reaches Telti. Kueller wants Skywalker so he can destroy him.
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  • The time is 17 years ABY. Luke and Leia are between 35-37; Han between 45-47. Jaina and Jacen are 7 1/2. Anakin is about 6.
  • We met Brakiss in I, Jedi where he was explained to be one of Luke’s original 12 students, even though he was not mentioned in the JA trilogy.

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chapter 2:


Luke is demonstrating the Force to his newest class of students when a painful surge of emotion slams into him. His students, including a promising one named Eelysa, are concerned. He has an image of Leia with scorch marks and blood. He tells them to find R2. A million people just died a moment ago. He has to go to Coruscant.


On Coruscant, Leia has done the white robes and done her hair in the style she’d worn during the early days of the Rebellion. She expresses her concern to Mon Mothma. The new Senate session has started and the body now includes former Imperial functionaries, bureaucrats who had worked under the Empire but had looked the other way sometimes. Leia feels they are going down the same road again by allowing even fairly-elected Imperials into the Senate.


Mon Mothma thinks this time hasn’t come early enough. The former Rebellion and Empire are going to have to learn to put aside their differences and work together. They must move beyond the past and work for a future. Part of that is accepting those who lived under the Empire but did not serve it.


There are rules, of course. No former stormtroopers, Imperial governors or anyone else who had access to power under the Empire. Mon Mothma reminds her that she will set the tone for this session by her words.


Leia suddenly feels and hears the screams of voices and sees a vision of a death mask. She contacts Luke who tells her he’s coming to her. They both felt it. She wants to put off the opening session, but she knows she cannot.


She asks Mon Mothma to send someone for Han, double the guards and have Ackbar to scan for anything unusual in space.

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  • It appears then that Luke returned to running the Academy after the Black Fleet Crisis trilogy. Apparently, he realized that living as a hermit didn’t suit him.

  • Also, the chapter mentions that Leia lost her idealism when she stared into Senator Palpatine’s ruined face. For the record, Leia never knew Palpatine when he was a senator. He was Supreme Chancellor Palpatine long before she was even born and then became Emperor Palpatine around the time he acquired his ruined face. By the time she met him, his days as a Senator were decades behind him.

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chapter 3:


In a cantina on Coruscant, Han meets with an old associate named Jarril who claims to have an opportunity for him. It seems a lot of people are getting rich in Smuggler’s Run but some of the better ones aren’t coming back.


He thinks Han and Chewie would be ideal to check it out. They are the only ones Jarril knows who can move easily between the Run and the Republic. Karrde doesn’t want anything to do with this. Mara Jade is working with Lando who has a price on his head and avoids the Run for that reason.


Jarril can’t do this himself as he’s in too deep.


On Coruscant, the children have started a food fight that results in a messy SeePO. At least Winter understands the need for discipline. The children’s parents are indulgent which causes problems when they leave.


Winter arrives and tells the droid to rest which, of course, he has no need for. He is perplexed by the arrival of a nanny droid named TDL3.5. Both he and Winter assure the droid that this has been a mistake and soon uncover that Anakin had ordered the droid through the shopping net after C-3PO had refused to read “The Little Lost Bantha Cub” to him anymore.


Then all three children scream.

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  • I’m assuming the children sensed the deaths that both Luke and Leia sensed. Odd that they sensed it but it appears that Luke’s students at the academy didn’t.

  • “The Little Lost Bantha Cub” was a story Han told his children in the JA trilogy.

  • Han and Leia are indulgent? Is this some guilt over letting other people raise their children?

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chapter 4:


Kueller arrives in the hangar and orders a ship from his faithful associate, Femon, who has been as much a part of this plan as he has. She confirms that Brakiss has left, one thousand people on the moon of Pydyr are imprisoned in their homes and the loss of life on Almania is 1, 651, 305.


He wants her to remain here so they do not lose momentum. She remembers the nightmares that he sends her often and agrees.


Leia enters the Senate chambers. The rainbow effect in the center of the room had been designed by the Emperor to create awe when he spoke. The Exodeenian Senator M’yet Luure is with his colleague, the newly-elected junior Senator who had been an Imperial.


Then there’s Meido who is the first senator from Adin which had been an Imperial stronghold. She’s having him looked into privately as she’s not sure his election was legitimate.


Some of the aliens barely fit in the human-centric chairs the Emperor had designed. As she begins her speech, an explosion jolts the chamber. She is blown into a desk and her hearing is damaged. She grabs her blaster and wishes she’d known more about what has happened. She has never completed her Jedi training.


Most of the Senators are moving, but others, such as M’yet Luure, are dead. Leia knows the Empire is behind this. The tone for this session has been set.

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  • I’m pretty sure the Senate chambers have been renovated, redesigned or rebuilt since Return of the Jedi. Wasn’t there some mention of rebuilding after at least one of the many attacks on Coruscant damaged it? If not, it seems a huge oversight for the New Republic to allow the Emperor’s human-centric designs to remain in the chambers.

  • I know Leia has been busy but Luke seems to be pushing Jedi out every few months. At least it seemed to me that his first class of students graduated far too quickly. She could have at least taken a leave of absence at some point to study for a few months.

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chapter 5:


The explosion is felt even in the cantina where Han is meeting with Jarril. He has to force his way out the door which has been closed to protect them from whatever might be out there. Oddly enough, there is nothing wrong with the streets and no more explosions.


When he sees medical personnel headed in the vicinity of the Palace, he worries about Leia and the children. Han follows them to the Senate Hall where he is greeted by death and destruction.


He finds Leia trying to help others and insists she get medical care now.


Jarril races to his ship, the Spicy Lady, relieved that access to and from the planet hasn’t been closed off yet. He hopes he’s piqued Solo’s interest enough.


He is confronted in his cockpit by two beings wearing some of the stormtrooper armor he keeps in his supplies. They demand to know why he is here. Though he insists he was visiting an old friend, they know he was meeting with Han Solo. Since Solo is married to the New Republic s Chief of State, they intend to silence Jarril forever.

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chapter 6:
Luke walks through the medical center where he is attacked by Anakin who clings to him. The other children join him and they express their fear that they caused their mother to be hurt.
They explain that, when they felt the deaths of a thousand people, they became afraid and used the Force together to push the darkness back. After that, the whole building shook and their mother almost died.
Luke wishes he knew more about raising Force-sensitive children. His Aunt Beru somehow managed on her own, though he suspects she may have spoken with Ben about it. The way the children look to each other for support makes him wonder how he and Leia would have interacted had they been raised together.
He assures them that, while they felt something terrible happen, they didn’t cause it. Their mother and several of his students felt something, too. They can’t bring the dead back but they can help those left behind to heal. Anakin adds they can make those responsible pay.
This concerns Luke who sees the same recklessness in Anakin that he has himself and that his own father had, too. He knows Leia meant well naming her son after Anakin Skywalker, but Luke knows he’ll have to pay extra attention to this child. For now, he tells Anakin that vengeance is a path to the Dark Side and that using it makes them no better than the ones who set the bomb.
In Leia’s room, they find Han who explains that her hearing will come back in a few days. The blast killed 25 senators and injured a couple of hundred more. Winter takes the children out so the adults can talk.
Han relates that Leia believes the bomb was set by Imperials. He isn’t so sure but he knows something is up. An old friend named Jarril was with Han at the time and was trying to tell him about something. Either Jarril was supposed to be a diversion for Han or warning him too late. In any event, Jarril is nowhere to be found and neither is his ship which is a cross between a Falcon-type freighter and an A-Wing. Luke remembers the ship blasting off Coruscant as he was given clearance. Spaceport Control dismissed his concern as a figment of his imagination.
Leia insists it’s the Imperials, Han thinks he should look into Smuggler’s Run and Luke can’t believe he’s the only voice of reason here. Both are needed to be with their children so he volunteers to investigate.
R2 drags C-3PO into the hangar because he’s insistent that Luke’s X-Wing is being tampered with. C-3PO reminds the droid that the X-Wing has been scheduled for an upgrade for a year. He refuses to think anything is wrong even when they find the maintenance doors closed.
R2 finds orders for upgrades that he is adamant Luke didn’t order. They are approached by a Koperian technician who decides they are acting oddly and need to be looked at.
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  • In the earlier chapter, there was no indication Luke’s students had been affected at all, but, in this one, it’s explained that some did and some didn’t. It’s also noted that his students aren’t as talented as the children. Really? None of Luke’s students are as talented as these three children? I would argue that Kyp Durron is particularly adept.
  • I noted in The Crystal Star that the children referred to their parents as Papa and Mama when previous books had referred to them as Mommy and Daddy. It’s not particularly significant as children do sometimes vary what they call their parents at different stages of their lives, but this chapter is all across the board. Jaina refers to Leia as Mom, Anakin calls her Mama while Jacen uses Mother. Jaina calls her father Daddy and then Dad.
  • Apparently, Luke got special clearance from Ackbar to land and the ones who killed Jarril took the opportunity to take the Spicy Lady out at the same time. I find it odd that Spaceport Control would 1) not realize that a ship left the exact moment Luke was entering considering the security in place after the explosion and 2) would not believe Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master, when he says he saw a ship leave. Wouldn’t that be really important?

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chapter 7:
Kueller relishes the destruction on Pydyr which has killed the people but left the wealth. Femon thinks he should move forward with his plan now. After all, everything is set on Coruscant. He reminds her that they have to make certain that they are thorough. That was Palpatine’s problem. He wasn’t so interested in power as in destruction.
In the meantime, Lando Calrissian encounters the Spicy Lady adrift in space. The A-Wing section is gone and he can see the body of Jarril floating in the cockpit. He wishes he had someone with him to examine this. Mara Jade is off doing an errand for Talon Karrde and really misses her company.
Then he spots a stormtrooper helmet floating in the galley.
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  • In the chapter, Kueller muses that Palpatine was more about destruction than power. I agree that the Emperor certainly relished destruction, but we can point to Gibad where he used a biological weapon to wipe out the inhabitants while keeping the resources intact as an example of him not fixating on full-scale destruction. In fact, it’s similar to what Kueller did with Pydyr.
  • Lando and Mara Jade have had some type of unspecified business association since the JA trilogy. Though Lando would clearly like to turn that association professional, it doesn’t appear that Mara is interested.

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chapter 8:
In the Emperor’s Audience Room in the Imperial Palace, the surviving senators gather. Leia knows her senior representatives are conducting business, but it’s obvious the newly-elected former Imperials have poor opinions of the New Republic’s security.
She calls the meeting to attention and explains they are in the process of investigating the explosion. R’yet Comme pursues this, asserting that precautions should have been taken up front so this wouldn’t have happened. He is subdued by Meido who offers up support for Leia, something that makes her suspicious.
Senator ChoFi backs her up, too. She tells the group that everyone who had access to the Hall in the previous days is being checked out. Of course, she is not because she knew she wasn’t involved, but ChoFi smoothly deflects questions in that vein.
Senator Gno, one of the few Old Republic members who hadn’t retired, points out they need to work together. It’s possible the bomb was set to cause this type of divisiveness in the first place. Leia hadn’t considered that.
Coome wonders if the attack was directed at the Senate as a whole or just her. Leia asserts that any attack, regardless of the target, is an attack on all of them. Meido suggests a separate investigation might ease the minds of the junior senators. Leia doesn’t believe that wasting resources is useful, but they’ve got her cornered. She allows a vote which passes largely in favor of an independent investigation due to the huge numbers of Republic loyalists being injured or killed in the blast.
She allows Senator Meido to form the team. ChoFi warns her that their report won’t have the same conclusion. Leia knows this but she didn’t have much of a choice. She couldn’t put one of her people in charge of the team. She doesn’t like this factionalization. This is not how the Senate used to be.
Gno doesn’t like it either. It reminds him too much of how the Old Republic was maneuvered into an Empire. Leia points out that the Empire doesn’t have a leader like Palpatine anymore. But Gno thinks that’s only a matter of time.
Later, Luke enters the empty hall to take a look himself. He is bothered by Leia’s certainty of Imperial involvement, Han’s strange encounter with his former colleague, and the differences in the way Leia and the children had felt the disturbance in the Force.
He doesn’t think the Imperials are involved as they would have found a way to be out of the Hall when the bomb exploded. On the other hand, Leia is right in that it would have looked suspicious, especially since they are now able to prove they’d been in the Hall and escaped injury.
The sense of betrayal reeking from the podium hits him. This feels personal. He reaches out in the Force and realizes that there were several small explosions rather than one big one. The senators sitting closest to the small bombs died. He thinks the investigation should focus on a search for several small causes rather than a big overriding one.
Then he feels the sense of the presence of one of his former students. Brakiss.
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  • They still call it the Emperor’s Audience Room? Remember back in Heir to the Empire when Luke marveled that new regimes always change their dating systems and he expected the New Republic to do the same? If they are going to go to the trouble of changing their dating systems, I would at least expect that they would remove anything referencing the Emperor or his name from their government buildings. I mean, is the huge medical center still called EmpPal for short? Is the Galactic Museum still selling “Sacrifice over Endor” or mini Emperor statues? It’s been 12 years, for Heaven’s sake!
  • Why is dividing the former Rebels not the first thing that came to Leia’s mind as a reason for the attack? Isn’t that always what the villain wants to do in these novels, take advantage of the diversity in the Senate and turn the aliens against each other? Isard did it, Thrawn did it, Nil Spaar did it…..

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chapter 9:


The Kloperian tech had put the droids in a closet. They are released by another one who warns them that they’ve been identified and that their owners need to inform the bay when the droids are coming down, lest someone accidentally scrap the old models for parts.


C-3PO starts to point out that he and R2 are certainly considered to be more than parts, but the technician doesn’t see it that way. They can see the X-Wing, but have to leave after that.


They find the ship in pieces on the bay door. The Kloperian insists the old X-Wings need overhauls. R2 counters that the ship was in perfect condition. Further, he lets C-3PO know that the ship’s memory has been erased in contradiction to Luke’s specific orders.


They decide to let Luke know right away.


Han and Leia argue about whether or not he should be leaving at this time to follow up on Jarril’s warning. Han has found that the Spicy Lady left with the last wave of ships when the shields were opened for Luke to enter. So far as he knows, Jarril spoke to no one but him.


Leia’s worried that the attack was directed at her or the whole family. Han suggests that they send the children to the rebuilt base on Anoth with Winter until this blows over. She will feel better knowing they are safe. He needs to feel useful and can take care of himself.

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  • At one point, it appears that C-3PO is about to explain how valuable he and R2 are. Remember in Shield of Lies, chapter 1, when it was stated that the two droids are instantly recognizable and are even considered heroes themselves in some circles. I pointed out then that, while I think the droids are valuable myself, we’ve never really gotten the impression from any other book that they are considered anything other than dime-a-dozen droids by almost everyone outside of that small circle of friends and family. If that’s the case, then it’s not surprising that the tech would have locked them in a closet, although I would hope at least the personal droids of the Chief of State and the Jedi Master would be well-known in the Palace. Barring that, if C-3PO and R2 are indeed as well-known as Shield of Lies implied, there should have been no legitimate reason for them not to be recognized.

  • Ah, so it’s back to Anoth for the Solo children where they can be guarded! Remember in the Thrawn Trilogy when Leia expressed her desire for their children to be raised normally without a bodyguard of Wookiees surrounding them? That didn’t last!

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chapter 10:
Lando has the Spicy Lady towed to Kessel, saving the disposal of Jarril’s body for last. There is no cargo, but some abandoned items that form a mystery. A blaster handle, a stormtrooper glove, a laser cannon and pieces of a sensor jammer. He finds bolts for a repulsorlift, power cells, schematics for AT-AT cannons and a case of Imperial interrogator droid needles.
It’s possible that Jarril was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it’s more likely that he was involved in something evil. Lando is tempted to abandon the ship in space but Jarril had smuggled him out of Smuggler’s Run right under Nandresson’s nose once.
In the cockpit, he finds the cargo manifest has been erased and there are no backups. In the address files, he finds three names he doesn’t recognize. One is on Fwatna, the other is on Dathomir and the third is on Almania under the name of a contact named Dolph. Jarril had noted the name was retired. The day the manifest was erased, Jarril had sent a message to Almania that has been deleted, too.
Since the Spicy Lady had been based on the Falcon, Lando tries a backdoor into the files. Fortunately, Jarril was not that creative and even used the same codes Lando had used for the Falcon. The message had no addressee and is short. The first says that the cargo has been delivered and the fireworks are spectacular. The second says that Solo knows and he can be counted on for involvement.
All Lando knows is that Jarril contacted Han and is now dead at the hands of someone who had stolen the A-Wing part of the ship. Lando decides to contact Coruscant.
Luke remembers every student who has left the praxeum before their training was complete. Some leave for family emergencies that happen at a turning point in their training. A few return; others don’t. None had left the way Brakiss had.
He had been an Imperial agent who had infiltrated the Jedi Academy and Luke had hoped to keep him away from the Dark Side. As the training progressed, he had allowed Brakiss to confront himself as Luke had done in the cave on Dagobah. The young man had returned terrified and angry. He left Yavin IV to return to the Empire; Luke knew he’d see him again.
C-3PO and R2 appear to tell Luke that his X-Wing is in pieces. R2 has retrieved the memory chips. Luke laments that this would happen as soon as he needs the ship. He hadn’t authorized the dismantling of his X-Wing and he doesn’t like hearing that the droids were detained.
He sends C-3PO to tell Leia what has happened while he and R2 return to the maintenance bay.
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  • In I, Jedi, it was revealed that Brakiss had been trained by the Empire who threatened his family and used him as a spy. This book specifically uses the word infiltrate to describe Brakiss’s motivation for attending the academy. There is nothing in I, Jedi to indicate that Brakiss was infiltrating the academy and that Luke was aware of that. Luke knew of his past and welcomed him there with his first group of students. I suppose Luke could have known all of this without it being mentioned.

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chapter 11:
Leia meets with the Inner Council in the Ambassadorial Dining Area still bearing the decorations from Palpatine’s era. She has been setting random meeting rooms so that no one can plan an attack too easily.
Borsk Fey’lya lets her know that the Outer Rim worlds have heard the news and have vengeance on their minds. Leia wants them all to remind their constituents that investigations are underway.
C’Gosf explains that the people don’t care about investigating the matter. They have no representation. The Senate can’t vote on anything that doesn’t require a simple majority. If the session were closing, they could just end early. At the beginning, however, they cannot leave planets without representatives for an extended period of time.
Even those planets with some representation left causes a quandary. With the loss of both senior senators from Exodeen, only R’yet Coome is left to represent them. Garm bel Iblis points out they have to get used to the Imperials. Both Leia and Fey’lya are concerned that having emergency elections will only result in more of them getting into the Senate or making those already in office more powerful. But even Fey’lya acknowledges that they must honor the will of the people even if they do not like the ones elected.
That means trusting them to make the right choices in new elections. ChoFi suggests that quick elections would make it hard for someone new to mount a campaign. The ones elected would probably be culled from the previous losers, but C-Gosf reminds them that may not be the case with all cultures. Her own will never allow the loser to run again.
This is the problem with having various cultures in the Senate. They abide by the same rules but those rules can be manipulated. As much as they don’t want to risk more Imperials arriving in the Senate, they cannot risk legislation being decided by a reduced-sized body.
It’s decided to hold elections within a week and bring the new senators in within the next month. Leia cannot help but feel a chill, wondering how she can prevent someone like Palpatine from taking advantage of a new wave of fragmentation.
On Almania, Femon is second-guessing Kueller’s dedication to replacing the inefficient New Republic government with one of his own. Her own family died six years ago when the Eye of Palpatine attacked her homeworld. The New Republic isn’t willing to do what it takes to finally eliminate the Empire and Imperial weapons from the galaxy.
Kueller believes this is a sign of weakness. The only one fit to rule the galaxy is one who can use an iron fist. Now he’s delaying and that’s a sign of weakness, too. It’s like he’s toying with Skywalker and Chief of State Organa Solo. This is a personal grudge and Femon cannot support him anymore.
He is going to be spending two more days on Pydyr which is enough time for her to take the action he is refusing to make. She has all of the knowledge, equipment and codes needed and can even get rid of Kueller.
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  • Actually Children of the Jedi, which chronicled the Eye of Palpatine incident, took place 5, not 6, years ago.
  • I understand the concept of two senators from one location, though it’s not really been explained as being practiced in the Republic Senate. However, Exodeen had three senators?

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chapter 12:


At the maintenance bay, Luke approaches a young mechanic who cannot do anything about the fact that the X-Wing is in pieces. He’s following General Antilles’ orders to upgrade all X-Wings to current fighter status as part of routine maintenance. He changes his tune when he finds out he’s speaking with Luke Skywalker.


He excitedly tells Luke about the new designs that allow the computer and the droid to operate as one system. Luke would prefer to have his ship reassembled without the changes as soon as possible. That will take time so he asks if he can at least take another X-Wing. Only the newer models are available and they don’t have room for R2.


Luke tells him to work with R2 to repair his personal X-Wing. The young man’s name is Cole Fardreamer from Tatooine and he promises to work as fast as he can.


Han lands the Falcon on Skip 1 in Smuggler’s Run where he runs into Kid DXo’ln, Zeem Afit. Ana Blue, Wynni and Seluss, partner to Jarril. They have blasters out.


None of them are happy to see him, thinking he’s a Republic spy here to arrest them or is after the money Jarril told him about. Seluss is particularly upset and, after Chewie lets him go, he grabs Han’s blaster and fires.

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  • Kid Dxo’ln, Zeem Afit, Ana Blue and Wynni appeared in the second Han Solo Trilogy.

  • Once again, I shake my head at someone willing to pull strings for a perceived superior that they cannot do for anyone else. Cole said if he’d known it was Luke, he would have done that. Luke, to his credit, said he doesn’t like to manipulate people like that, however, he was still trying to pull rank to get what he wanted.

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chapter 13:
Lando cannot get ahold of Han, Chewbacca, Leia or Winter. He’d tried Yavin IV but Streen told him that Luke left suddenly for Coruscant and didn’t know why. Mon Mothma, Admiral Ackbar and Wedge Antilles aren’t responding either.
Finally, he calls Mara Jade who tells him that the Senate Hall was bombed. Han and Leia are okay, but a lot of people were killed. It’s caused problems communicating with Coruscant because of the volume. Karrde joins her and confirms that traffic is getting into Coruscant but it’s really not a safe place to go right now.
No one knows who’s behind it. Lando asks about Jarril. Karrde will not answer his questions directly, but suggests he head to the Run. Lando points out that Karrde knows he can’t go there.
He decides to head to Coruscant to warn Han personally.
Kueller confronts Femon for issuing orders to stand ready. She tells him he’s too bent on revenge and they are going to lose their advantage. She calls him Dolph and speaks to him in a way that he would ordinarily send him into a fury. He orders his guard to rescind the orders, then he explains that he is going to be patient. He’s studied the history of this galaxy and knows how it works.
This isn’t about revenge. The Jedi of old became complacent which allowed Palpatine to use the dark power of the Force to take over, then he forgot the lesson and was overthrown by Skywalker. He is destined to rule this galaxy and he cannot do so with Luke Skywalker in it. He kills her as a lesson to his guards.
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  • Luke left Streen in charge again? I thought that was unusual in the Black Fleet Crisis.

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chapter 14:
The shot ricochets off the walls and Han ducks out of the way. He grabs Seluss and growls at him for shooting in an enclosed space. The others call him off, convinced he’s the same old Han Solo they knew.
They usher him into the Run that’s changed since he’s been here but some things remain the same. One place isn’t familiar. He’s told it belonged to Boba Fett and five of his friends. Most of them died six years ago so the smugglers turned the place into a gourmet kitchen.
He explains that he’s following Jarril’s trail. He blasted off Coruscant right after the bombing so Han wonders if he knew about it ahead of time. This upsets Seluss again and starts an argument.
Luke lands on Msst where Brakiss had gone after leaving Yavin IV. It had once been an Imperial stronghold and some still use it for a rendezvous. His new X-Wing is top-notch but he misses R2.
There’s something odd here. Not wildlife. The Empire had done their usual work here but there had been nothing in the records about the wildlife being harmed. He finds several pink bubbles hovering over his ship. He isn’t sure if they are going to feed off the energy stores like a mynock would so he tries to use his lightsaber to get them off.
They react by attacking him and he’s forced to his knees. They have teeth that sting him. He remembers his niece and nephews forcing the heat of the Force disturbance out of their room and sends warmth from him up and out.
The creature above him explodes but more rain down on him and he collapses.
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  • Boba Fett didn’t have any friends; he barely had associates. What happened six years ago that caused these so-called friends to die off?

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chapter 15:


Leia views the election results from her bedroom. Though some worlds are allowing their injured senators to vote by proxy or at least have elected someone whose views mirrored those they were replacing, the elections for dead senators have gone very badly. Only a small percentage voted in a candidate from the same party. The rest put in former Imperials which gives them a simple Senate majority.


She hopes that not all of the new representatives will vote the same way, but she values directness and this body is now a political one. Political bodies do not operate directly. Already she knows that those from the Rebellion will have to tone down their rhetoric and that history will probably be watered down to emphasize the corruption in the highest ranks of the Empire only.


She has a speech tonight that’s going to emphasize that the New Republic is not the Empire and never will be. She’s lost too much to the Empire to give up the idea of Rebellion. Having to coexist with the same kind of people who destroyed her home, killed her father, tortured, shot and nearly killed her is almost too much. Mon Mothma was better at putting aside her passions; but hadn’t she turned the job over to Leia because the latter still had passion?


The household computer alerts her that Lando Calrissian is here. He explains about Jarril’s death, the deleted message and some Imperial equipment found on the ship. The message had been sent to Almania which wasn’t claimed by either the Republic or the Empire. They both believe Han is in danger.


But Han is at Smuggler’s Run where Lando cannot go because Nandresson has set a bounty on Lando. He decides he’ll have to go anyway and take his chances.


Cole Fardreamer works with R2 to reassemble Luke’s X-Wing. He finds it odd that Skywalker seems to refer to the droid by a nickname, but he is soon grateful to have the droid. R2 finds something odd in the the new computer system. It’s a detonator with Imperial markings on it. It remains inoperative until a command codes has been spoken or entered, then reverses the polarity, overloads and explodes.


If Luke had taken the ship, he would have died.

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  • Well, how long has that detonator been there? Since the X-Wing was built or is it part of this new combined unit they are installing in all the X-Wings? I only ask this because Luke’s ship hadn’t originally had the new computer system. It was taken apart so it could be installed. Since Luke wanted Cole to reassemble it without the changes, what would the new computer system be doing in the ship?

  • If it was inserted into the ship originally, the command code that causes the explosion must be fairly obscure as Luke hasn’t blown up in the 17 years he’s used it!

  • Cole acts like referring to droids by nicknames is unusual. Nearly every droid we’ve ever met has had its name shorted somehow by its owners, particularly by those Rebel pilots. Not sure why Cole would find this strange.

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chapter 16:
Luke awakens to find an old woman treating him for his burns. She explains the mistmakers’ slime that covered him would have killed him if she hadn’t seen him land and been wearing protective gear.
She has a bacta tank and has him on an air cushion. She has treated him as best she can and urges him to rest. Using the Force, he manages to get up and approach her. She knows who he is. Her son said he’d come. Luke realizes this is Brakiss’s mother.
She tells him how the Empire had come and taken her bright-eyed baby. He’d returned for visits but he wasn’t the same after that. They’d taken something from him that she knows Luke tried to restore. Brakiss had returned her after he left the academy, but the Empire had no more use for a man who was as troubled as he. So Brakiss had left to sell his skills to someone else. He wants Luke to find him, but she thinks Luke should go home and forget about it.
Han and Chewie find sleeping quarters on Skip I. Seluss arrives and tries to tell them that Jarill instructed him to shoot Han when he arrived so everyone would think they are enemies. He didn’t want anyone following Seluss. Han doesn’t buy it.
Seluss goes on to say that the smugglers are dealing in ruined Imperial equipment scavenged by Jawas on Tatooine. Some smugglers spoke out against this and they’re all dead. He wants to see if Han can find out who is paying for this equipment at such high prices.
Han realizes that, if someone gunned for Jarril, then they are probably gunning for Han now, too.
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  • Brakiss is an adult so he had to have been taken by the Empire a couple of decades ago, during the height of its power. This is another example of the Empire’s inconsistent attitude toward Force-sensitives. They are either killed, converted for Imperial use or ignored.

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chapter 17:
Cole backs away from the X-Wing and goes to a completed reconditioned one. He finds a detonator there, too. And in the others. He wonders if the brand-new ones have the same problem.
He is not supposed to be working on the new ones, but he gets into the bay and finds that they are fitted with the detonators, too. The computer alerts an unauthorized entry into the bay, however, and he is surrounded by guards.
Nandresson confides in his associate, Iisner, that he’s heard Han Solo is on Skip 1. Issner confirms it. This is not good news, on top of the disappearance of one of Nandreeson’s pilots and the fact that everyone is coming into big money and paying off their debts to him.
Iisner suggests getting into another line of business. This Imperial equipment scheme will dry up as soon as the elusive buyer finds a way to make his own. In the meantime, staying here is beneficial as Lando Calrissian will be here soon.
Iisner points out that there’s no evidence for that. Calrissian hasn’t been here for 17 years. The fact that Solo is here shouldn’t change that as he never traveled with Calrissian, just the Wookiee. Nandresson reminds him that the two are working together when it comes to Imperial threats. And this Imperial equipment market may cause them to work together again.
Few in the New Republic know how to find Smuggler’s Run. Calrissian is one of them. Since Solo and the Wookiee are already here, it makes sense that Calrissian will soon join them.
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  • Wedge might know where to find Smuggler’s Run and Corran Horn, through his connections, might be able to find it, too. But, I agree that the likely follow-up visit will be from Lando.
  • I’m still confused about the detonators. The brand-new X-Wings have them and, presumably, they haven’t been taken apart and reassembled to install the new computer systems. This means that they were built with the detonators. The reconditioned ones have the detonators because they were apparently reassembled to include them. However, I still don’t know how Luke’s X-Wing got one. And, wouldn’t someone notice a part with an Imperial symbol on it when putting the ship back together?

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chapter 18:


Lando questions why he felt coming to Smuggler’s Run alone was a good idea. He has an arsenal hidden in Lady Luck, all manner of droids and credits that Leia gave him. Still, Nandreeson is not going to be amenable after all this time. The pirate antics of Lando’s past don’t impress his current associates so his swiping a considerable sum from Nandreeson all those years ago doesn’t seem to have been worth the trouble.


He will have to get in, warn Han and get out. He punches in a message, sends it to Mara and copies it to Leia. Then he burns the engines, takes several chips out of the console panel and watches his ship begin to fail. After that, he sends the run a copy of his legitimate cargo manifest which is the equivalent of a distress signal in these parts.


Luke lands on Telti which is a lifeless moon. Brakiss’s mother had told him where to go but warned him not to. Luke knows there is more here than just a former student wanting to meet with his teacher. He expects he’s being lured into an Imperial trap.


The X-Wing is pulled into a landing dome. Luke realizes this looks just like one of the storehouses on Tatooine that were used when Jabba the Hutt had tried doing legitimate business for a short time. He was selling landspeeders and they were put in a room like this with the lights focused on the best parts of the speeders. Uncle Owen refused to buy anything because the ID numbers had been sanded off, a clear indicator that they’d been stolen.


But no one approaches him or greets him. Clearly, Brakiss wants to see him, but is playing games the way the Empire likes to do. Luke enters another room with a number of golden hands extending down. He finds the detached robotic arms nearby.


But no Brakiss.

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chapter 19:


Brakiss watches Luke with surveillance equipment, droids, computers and the Force. He is surprised to see Skywalker hasn’t changed much. He hadn’t seen him for years, since before the Eye of Palpatine had nearly killed the Master. But he’s still the same Luke Skywalker who had forced Brakiss to confront his own darkness and it nearly shattered him.


He’d left and found his mother living in the Empire’s shadows. He’d had to report in but forced them to release him afterwards. His information had been valuable enough and his mind damaged sufficiently that they agreed to his terms. Then he’d run away until Kueller found him and put his mind back together on the condition that Brakiss deliver Skywlker to him.


He contacts Kueller and tells him Luke is here. He thinks he should kill him now. Kueller doesn’t think he can, but, if Brakiss does, Kueller will have to kill him in return. After all, killing Skywalker will make Brakiss the most powerful person in the galaxy. That will force Kueller to take that honor from him. The Emperor may have wanted Vader to kill Skywalker, but there is no more Emperor. Brakiss should remember that.


He sends a protocol droid to bring Luke into the assembly room.


Han flies himself, Chewie and Seluss to Skip 5 to see this Imperial equipment operation for himself. It’s one thing to pay a smuggler well for valuable product, but used Imperial junk is not worth the prices they are being paid for them.


The Empire can’t make anymore equipment because the Republic shut down all the factories and destroyed them. It’s possible a crime lord could have found one in existence but that would provide him with modern equipment, not old junk. He wonders if there’s something about the old equipment that’s being hunted.


Smuggler’s Run has certainly changed since he was first here. A man interrogates him about his ship and he turns out not to even be a guard. Han has to remind himself how to act like a smuggler rather than a resident of Coruscant. He’s getting rusty.


He’s surprised to find Jawas here. In fact, a whole Sandcrawler is stationed here and sand has been dropped on the cavern floors. It’s a good bet that these Jawas were transported here which was made to look like Tatooine and find equipment buried in the sand. Jawas don’t care much for credits, so it’s a great set up to get clean and repaired equipment at almost no cost.


Chewie approaches him and tells him he saw three men follow Han. But they aren’t in here. Seluss is nearby with a blaster to cover them.


Iisner arrives with backup and invites Han to visit Nandresson on Skip 6. They are unable to negotiate a means that is agreeable to both of them, so Han has Chewie take off the minute there’s a distraction. He is rescued by the man he encountered upon his arrival.


His name is Davis and he confirms that the smugglers are using the Jawas to clean and repair the equipment. He doesn’t know who the buyer of the stuff is, though. Han doesn’t know why Nandreeson wants him, either.


Davis says he watched the pursuers come in. There are tunnels here and the one corridor, but he tells Han there are other ways to the sand. Chewie suggests they use the Jawas.

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chapter 20:


The droid approaches Luke and invites him to come with him. He is escorted through the plant as the droid tells him that it encompasses the whole moon and makes every kind of droid. They are making high-tech medical droids currently. The droid cannot tell him much else as he admits his memory has been wiped many times.


Brakiss wants to know what Luke wants from him. Luke explains his mother told him Brakiss was expecting him. Brakiss asks if Luke hurt her. Luke assures him she is fine but concerned for her son. Brakiss argues that she was never concerned for him. Realizing that he blames her for not being able to save him from the Empire, Luke abandons this discussion and asks why he was expected.


Brakiss knows Luke never lets his students go easily and would show up eventually. Luke doesn’t want Brakiss to have his talent warped by the Empire. Brakiss tells him he’s no longer with the Empire. He has a life now.


Luke explains about the deaths of millions he sensed and about the bombing of the Senate Hall. In both instances, he felt Brakiss was connected. He’d like to know how. Brakiss denies any knowledge of this and rebuffs Luke’s attempts to get him to come back to Yavin IV.


They duel briefly, but Luke gets the feeling Brakiss is afraid of something or someone. Brakiss challenges Luke to kill him so this will all end. He has been paid to give Luke a message. He should go to Almania to get his answers. However, the best thing to do is leave and return to Yavin IV, retire and leaving the fighting to the more ruthless who will win anyway.


After Luke leaves, Brakiss decides he doesn’t want to get stuck between Skywalker and Kueller. His former teacher is too adept at reading his feelings and he’d almost convinced him to return to Yavin IV with him. He wants to get rid of the Force and spend the rest of his life making droids. He can’t do anything else so long as more powerful beings like Kueller and Skywalker exist.


Rumors were that it was Skywalker who compelled Vader back from the Dark Side. If that’s true, he’s stronger than Kueller or Brakiss. He’s still influenced by his former teacher. If Skywalker doesn’t arrive on Almania, Brakiss doesn’t want to know what Kueller will do.

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chapter 21:


Cole tries to explain that Luke Skywalker asked him to fix his ship and he’d discovered an Imperial-designed detonator. After finding them in the reconditioned ships, he wanted to check the new ones, too. He shows them the detonator in the new one.


They waffle between accusing him of sabotaging the ships to considering that someone wants to make people think the Imperials are sabotaging the ships. They cannot take the chance that Cole isn’t working under Skywalker’s orders. But, when R2 takes the time to jack into the computer, the guards fire on him.


The Jawas sell Han a bad speeder and three blasters. He plans to use the speeder as a diversion until Chewie can get back to the Falcon. He gives Davis the blaster that looks the most damaged, because he doesn’t trust the man, which gives them two weapons each.


The speeder dies before he can reach the ship, but Davis is pretty good with a blaster. He drags Han under the Falcon, Chewie lowers the ramp and they board. Han will not leave without Seluss. He heads to the cockpit and tells Chewie to look for Seluss. When the Wookiee doesn’t respond, Han turns back and finds Chewie and Davis being held at blasterpoint and Seluss tied up on the floor.

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chapter 22:
Meido has called an urgent meeting of the Inner Council and Leia is running late. A few days ago, he had been elected by a majority to the Inner Council. Junior members didn’t call meetings although it was in their right to do so. Obviously things will be changing.
She had been informed last of the meeting in a blatant attempt to throw her off-guard. Inside, she finds Meido sitting in her chair. She cannot allow him these small victories. She apologizes to the others for being late as she was only notified moments ago that this was happening. She also acknowledges Meido’s newness to the Council and points out that the Chief of State is always notified first of a meeting. She stands by her chair until Senator Gno suggests to Meido that she can better run the meeting from the head of the table.
After relinquishing the chair, Meido explains that the preliminary report from the independent investigation is back. This is surprising as the New Republic ’s investigation is still going on and is expected to take some time.
He has some evidence that implicates Han Solo in the bombing. By Leia’s own admission, Han is on Smuggler’s Run where he used to do business illegally smuggling goods. They’ve intercepted a message implicating him. Leia is stunned to find it’s the same message Lando showed her. If Lando didn’t betray them, the information must have come to Meido a different way.
The message had been sent by the Spicy Lady as it left Coruscant the day of the bombing. The pilot, Jarril, had met with Solo earlier that day and was with him at the time of the bombing itself. Then Solo himself left to pursue Jarril.
Leia argues that she herself was in the Hall at the time of the bombing. Besides the outrageous belief that Han would betray the Republic and risk his wife’s life, she points out that the Solos are often the targets of malicious accusations. This is obviously an attempt to discredit Han. Leia urges her supporters among the Council to not allow Imperials to divide them in this way.
To his credit, Meido looks sympathetic. And Leia believes he is sincere, much to her chagrin. However, she will not allow a former Imperial to accuse her husband of treason in the Inner Council. Her supporters, though, press her to excuse herself from this particular issue. She cannot be objective when a loved one is concerned. She may not like or agree with Meido’s findings, but she must allow allow an investigation.
Meido is apologetic, but reminds her that not everyone has access to the Senate Hall. Whoever planted the explosives had to be someone they trust. Leia refuses to accept that there are things that must be true. She’s seen too many things previously thought impossible. She adjourns the meeting until tomorrow when she expects answers, not accusations.
On Skip 1, Lando is annoyed to find the Falcon not docked there. After landing, he opens the cargo door and sees Ana Blue standing there. He tells her he needs to fix his ship and get out of here before Nandreeson finds out he’s here.
She isn’t sure that hasn’t already happened. He denies he’s partnering with Han and only landed here because Lady Luck needs repairs. Ana tells him Solo arrived her a few days ago and she assumed Lando would follow.
As it happens, Kid Dxo’ln and Zeen Afit, who thinks Calrissian is spying on them, are here, too, along with two dozen other smugglers with their blasters trained on him. Lando reiterates that he’s here only to fix his ship.
They explain that Nandreeson is on Skip 6, but aren’t convinced that Lando isn’t working with Solo. Lando invites them to inspect his ship and confirm he hasn’t spoken with Han in a long time. In fact, if they are here, he’d rather get Chewie to fix his ship rather than pay smuggler’s prices to do it.
Zeen considers Lando an outsider and is sure that he’s working with Han, besides being wanted by Nandreeson. It turns out that his people are already here. They grab Lando who tells Ana to tell Han knows he’s in trouble. She makes it a point not to get involves in Nandreeson’s business, though, and tells him he shouldn’t have come here.
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  • Leia’s situation is similar to the issue in the Black Fleet Crisis where it was felt she was too close to the situation to make an objective choice after Han was captured by the Yevetha.

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chapter 23:


C-3PO has learned four new languages in the last day. Since the children left, he’s been using his time to learn more and has totaled 18 new languages in a week.


A small R2 icon appears and he gets a message from R2 telling him he’s in the maintenance bay with a mechanic named Cole Fardreamer and they are being accused of sabotage. Then the screen dies.


Kueller deals with financial issues before getting a message from Brakiss. He can tell instantly that man has faced Skywalker again and is battling his demons. Kueller knows Brakiss tried and failed to kill his old master who let him live out of a naïve sense of mercy. Now, Brakiss is clearly questioning whether or not anyone can kill Skywalker. Brakiss expresses his hatred for Skywalker, but Kueller knows that Brakiss doesn’t hate the man, only the truths that Skywalker makes him see.


Vader may have turned back to the light, but he really had no choice as a dying man with no Emperor to save him. Skywalker says Vader made a choice, but he is, after all, trying to recruit Brakiss back to his side. He could have taken Brakiss back if he truly wanted to, but he doesn’t. He senses Kueller in the Force and will come to him to make sure he is the reigning Force user in the galaxy.


Brakiss has done well. Kueller doesn’t need his help anymore. If Brakiss wants to stay on Telti, build droids and let his Force talents go to waste, that is how it shall be. They will never discuss Skywalker again.

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chapter 24:


Iisner greets Han who keeps him talking while Chewie unsheathes his claws. Iisner explains that Nandreeson really wants to see Han because he thinks he can help the New Republic with information he has. Han is to come to Skip 6 – an invitation he’s already refused once.


Chewie inserts his claw into secret cargo hatch between the wall and the door.


Iisner explains that Nandreeson doesn’t like to travel to the other skips. Han offers to meet him on the Falcon then. Chewie tugs and the door to the cargo space falls on Iisner’s head.


They jump out of the way, Chewie steps on the door and pulls Seluss to him. Iisner tells Han to please tell the Wookiee to get off of him.


Han demands to know what Nandreeson wants with him. Iisner admits he wanted to use Han to get Calrissian whom he assumed would show up here eventually. Han asks who is buying all this Imperial junk. Iisner doesn’t know, but he does know that Nandreeson isn’t. This scheme is bad for his boss’s business but he can’t stop it because it’s too big.


Han starts to let him go, asking him who the credit source is, but Davis shoots him. He insists Iisner was going to shoot Han who claims that he was about to talk. Davis explains that it’s typical for them to go in for the kill when they’re perceived as vulnerable. Iisner was going to kill Han and fly the ship to Skip 6 to lure Calrissian there.


Davis is here because he’s looking into the supposed accidental death of a friend. There’ve been lots of those lately. When he heard Han was here to pursue Jarril’s death, he came here to meet him.


Han tells him they are assuming Jarril is dead. Seluss certainly thinks so. Han wants to ditch the Sullustan now who claims he was followed back onto the Falcon by Iisner. Davis tells him not to be hasty. He’d like to hire the Falcon.


Han won’t become involved in this even after Davis promises to get him to the supplier. There’s something about the man and his convenient appearance that he doesn’t trust. He kicks him off the ship so he can leave before Nandreeson shows up and blames him for Iisner’s death.


He decides to find his answers on Skip 1.


Lando is tossed into a pit of slime where Nandreeson keeps him. He turns down offers of recompense. After all, once Lando dies, his estate goes to no one, so Nandreeson will take that. The New Republic won’t interefere because they’re going to be too busy fighting a new rebellion.


As much as Lando might say the Republic’s government is good, there are plenty of people, like those on Smuggler’s Run, who have reason to fear it. And there aren’t only the lawless with a grudge. The people of Almania sent a distress signal when the Je’har began campaign of genocide, but they were ignored.


Nandreeson will not be dealing with Lando who ruined his chance at succeeding Jabba the Hutt because everyone remembers that a stupid kid stole from him and got away with it. Lando’s slow, painful death will show that Nandreeson is patient and takes his revenge slowly.


Humans may be able to swim for a time, but Lando will eventually need food and rest. At some point, he will falter.

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chapter 25:
General Antilles arrives to find out what’s going on. The guards explain that they found the mechanic and the R2 unit sabotaging the ships. Cole points out that he was left here with R2 by Luke Skywalker to help him repair his X-Wing. He was the one who found the detonator in the ship in the first place and, after finding others, came here to see if they were in the new ships.
The guards didn’t believe him and shot R2. The door opens to allow C-3PO and Chief of State Leia Organa Solo inside. She flips a switch on R2 that reboots him, but he begins spinning around and screaming.
Leia interrogates Cole and he explains to her what he’s told the guards and General Antilles. Luke left Arto with him to put the ship back the way it was and the detonator was discovered. After he found it in other reconditioned ships, he came here to check the brand new ones. The new computers arrived preassembled with the detonators inside. Someone may want to destroy the New Republic ’s pilots.
Wedge was the one who ordered the reconditioning in the first place. This is a normally expensive procedure but the parts came dirt cheap and they hoped it would fix the mechanical failures the old ships are now having.
But Cole reminds her that Wedge doesn’t necessarily have had to know about the detonators. They came as part of the computers and aren’t really obvious unless you’re taking one apart. The only reason he found it is because Luke asked him to reverse the changes to his ship. And, even then, R2 was the one who actually spotted the difference.
As it is, most of the X-Wings have been rebuilt and there are some away from Coruscant. Leia orders all of them grounded and checked for detonators. Cole tells her to contact Luke immediately and warn him as he is flying one of the brand-new ships himself.
The moon Pydyr is well known for its wealth, but Luke has never heard of Almania until now. He trusts Brakiss’s information, though. The man still has some good in him that he fights. It’s hard to let go of a student and allow him to make his own mistakes. The fact that Brakiss has warned him away from Almania means he still values Luke.
The world had been let alone by the Empire. Pydyr had been approached to help fund Imperial projects but they chose to remain uninvolved, their distant location sufficient to keep them from Palpatine’s wrath. Almania itself had been led by the Je’har during the Rebellion and had sent weapons to rebel bases, such as Hoth.
The leadership changed after the death of Thrawn, however, and there were no further communications. There are rumors of a huge slaughter but the only request for help came while the New Republic was battling the Yevetha.
The timing bothered Luke because Brakiss had left during that time. There’s nothing to link him to Almania, though. On the other hand, Brakiss had been an Imperial spy so he might have had a reason to go to Almania. He might have been involved in the regime change.
Luke scans Pydyr and finds empty buildings with only about ten lifeforms. There should have been millions. He realizes the death cries he heard came from here. At this point, Almania can wait.
There’s someone else here, more powerful than Brakiss. He wonders if he should go back to Coruscant for help. He decides to investigate first and then decide from there.
As he moves to land on the moon, he feels the X-Wing shudder. The computer locks and the screens go dark. The eject button is missing. He grabs for the hatch and opens it by hand as the ship explodes.
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  • Wait a minute, how does Luke know about Almania and all these details? We’ve been told that neither the Empire nor the New Republic had much to do with the planet. Yet, we’ve got confirmation that a signal was received and the Republic forces were too busy. This would have been about a year ago when the Yevethan crisis was occurring.

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