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chapter 1:
At the very edge of the pitiful scraps of what had once been the Empire, the Star Destroyer Chimaera floats. Admiral Pellaeon, Supreme Commander of the Imperial Fleet, feels the weight on his shoulders of too many defeats.
His captain, Ardiff, tells him they are ready. Pellaeon remembers ten years back when they’d watched the final test of the prototype cloaking shield Grand Admiral Thrawn had retrieved from Wayland.
But that time is gone. Thrawn is dead. The Empire is dying.
He signals the attack. They are using a device called a Predictor to analyze flight data during an attack. They are doing battle drills now with it. They find minimal damage has been done to the attacking Preybirds. After enabling the cloaking shield, they use the data to try to ward off an attack. Five hundred shots later, they have hit one of eight targets. Hardly enough.
Ardiff is sure it will get better. Pellaeon isn’t so sure. Ardiff thinks there are practical uses for this cloaking shield. Pellaeon agrees with that as Thrawn himself had developed three of them, but he’s not here and there’s no one left like him.
He tells Ardiff it’s all over.
Ardiff reminds him they have 8 sectors with over a thousand inhabited star systems, plus a fleet with 200 Star Destroyers. They are a force to be reckoned with which is why they are able to hold the New Republic at bay.
Admiral Pellaeon thinks that the New Republic just has more important problems to deal with.
Ardiff suggests they take the time to rearm. Pellaeon points out that they are reduced to SoroSuub Preybirds that have been scrounged from pirate gangs. The one shipyard they have left cannot keep up with demand for ships.
He sees it, the rest of the crew sees it, the hundreds of formerly neutral worlds clamoring for New Republic membership see it, too. Pellaeon orders a course set for Bastion and a request for a meeting of all Moffs at Disra’s place to be sent.
It’s time to send an emissary to the New Republic to discuss the terms of the Empire’s surrender.
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  • The time is now 19 years ABY. Luke and Leia are 37-39; Han is 47-49. Jacen and Jaina are 10. Anakin is 8 1/2.
  • The last time we saw Pellaeon was in Darksaber where he was in charge of a ship called 1X. I’d wondered then what had happened to the Chimaera. it appears he’s still got it but it didn’t appear in Darksaber. He was appointed Supreme Commander of the Imperial Fleet at the end of that book.
  • And Disra is probably our old buddy Chief Administrator Disra from Allegiance.
  • The command of Grand Admiral Thrawn and his visit to Wayland occurred in Heir to the Empire.

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chapter 2


When the Millennium Falcon’s console beeps, a dozing Han Solo wakes up and calls for Chewie to do the same.


They come out of hyperspace at Iphigin where they have a meeting. He thinks someone called Puffers set the meeting here for a reason. Chewie reminds him the name is President Gavrisom.


Luke comes over the speaker and compliments them for being on schedule.


Han explains that he and Chewie were having a difference of political opinion. Luke guesses Han has been calling Gavrisom Puffers again. The President is a Calibop which are known for talking. Leia has reminded Han again and again that the New Republic has come a long way from the Rebel Alliance. Now, the tools of their trade are negotiators and diplomats.


Luke is in an X-Wing for a change. He’s normally flying a shuttle with one of his students. When the call came in, he jumped into his starfighter with R2.


Han explains that the Diamala and the Ishori are fighting again, this time over shipping security. The Diamala don’t believe the Ishori patrol ships can protect them. The Ishori don’t want armed Diamalan ships coming into their systems.


Gavrisom called him from Wayland and asked him to come here. Luke is surprised Han would be asked to arbitrate the dispute. Han admits that the President thinks Leia is here with him. But, after all, Han is the official liaison to the Independent Shippers Association and he wants his wife to have a real vacation without being called into a diplomatic snafu. She’s supposed to be on a leave of absence.


He thinks Luke should be able to relate to the calm and cool Diamala. The Ishori like to argue. Chewie can handle them. Then all three of them get together and work out a solution.


In the docking bay, Luke can already sense trouble. He tells R2 to stay with the ship and keep an eye on things. Han and Chewie are waiting for him. Luke approaches the group of Diamala and introduces himself. He’s greeted but told he is not welcomed.


They do not wish him to be part of these negotiations or to discuss any of this with him. They would prefer he leave altogether, but Han insists his friend be allowed to stay and advise him.


Luke asks Han if he knows what this is about. Han actually does but tells him to forget it. Luke gets the feeling something is being left unsaid. Their new strategy is that Han and Chewie will handle the talks. Luke can probably help them come up with a solution.


Luke thinks that he should at least be nearby in case this is a ruse to keep them separated.


However, the Iphigini find out that Luke has been cut out of the negotiations so they arrange for a monitor line between his room and conference center. It takes a couple of hours for him to figure out they’re going nowhere.


Han realizes it about the same time. He thinks they’re crazy. Luke suggests the New Republic offer to run security for the Diamalan ships while they’re in the system. Han reminds him they don’t have a lot of ships to spare and he doesn’t think the Diamala will trust anyone else with their security anyway. He is particularly certain they won’t trust the New Republic.


Luke again gets the feeling Han is keeping something from him. He thinks it’s not too late to call Wayland and get Leia over here. Han insists they can handle this themselves.


Luke’s console pings and he answers it. A young Iphigini appears and explains that they’ve received a notice that a Sarkan freighter is on its way here under a Customs alert. This means there is dangerous and illegal cargo aboard.


There are ships on an intercept course, but it was thought Luke and Han, as New Republic representatives, might want to observe the procedure.


Luke senses a change in Han’s emotion. He starts to turn the young officer down, but Han asks if they’re sure it’s a Sarkan. The description matches one. Han decides to let them proceed. He and Luke may be up later.


After the transmission ends, Han brushes it off. Luke asks if he knows who the smuggler is. Han says it’s not a smuggler. He shows Luke a ground station list with orbit data for the Golan Defense Platform. The ship will be coming in and they just have to sit and wait for it.


He tells Luke they are pirates. The officer didn’t realize this is an old trick. An alert is called in on a ship coming in sunside, then the ship pulls around nightside and hit a target.


He doesn’t think the Iphigini need to know about it. In fact, Luke should be able to handle it himself. Luke would rather not and suggests they let the authorities know. Han believes the pirates may have a spotter out there to look for an official response. In the end, Luke agrees.


R2 tells Luke that he doesn’t like this. Luke understands but has the droid keep an eye out. All of this strange behavior is nagging at him. It adds to the restlessness that’s been growing over the last few weeks. Leia thinks that the Force is pushing him to do something or not do something.


Though Han had expected two or three ships, no less than eight show up. They are closing on a pair of New Republic transports. Luke has a number of options available, but he stops when he sees the images of Palpatine and Exar Kun in front of him, laughing.


He realizes that there’s something he’s not supposed to do. He lets Han take lead on this one. Their first goal is to take out the ion cannon. Han gets it but one of the transports gets hit. Luke can’t escape the strange feeling he’s getting from a large ship out there.


The two of them succeed in chasing the pirates off. Han notes that they were pirates, but there was no insignia on the ships. They could be privateers hired by the Empire to attack transports.


Luke explains he gets the feeling there is a group of clones aboard the largest ship. He felt the same way when they were chasing Thrawn’s warriors. They’d thought all the clones were gone. Han suggests they turn this over to NRI, even though they’ve had no more luck pinning down the gangs than Han’s Independent Shippers.


Luke wonders if Talon Karrde could help them. He isn’t excited about mentioning it. Han knows it’s because of Mara. He offers to go to Karrde instead. Perhaps this incident will help the negotiations.


Luke asks why the Diamala don’t like him. Han admits that they are concerned that a Jedi who uses power as much as Luke does could turn to the Dark Side. It’s happened before. Han believes Luke when he says he has it under control.


Luke knows that what he’s done has been necessary to save countless lives. Yet, Obi-Wan Kenobi could have swept Vader and the stormtroopers away on the Death Star rather than sacrifice himself.


Yoda chose to live in hiding when he could have defeated the Emperor himself.


And, Callista, who had left because she was intimidated by his power.


He thinks about the image of Palpatine and Exar Kun and knows he will have to meditate on this some more.

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  • Does Luke still not understand why Ben and Yoda went into hiding? Why does he continually make their actions more complicated than they were? Neither Ben nor Yoda were in any position to be able to defeat Vader or the Emperor. Vader would have killed Kenobi. He sacrificed himself to be of help to Luke. Yoda had already tried and failed to kill Palpatine. They didn’t go hide so no one would rally around them. They didn’t go hide because they were afraid they’d fall to the Dark Side. They hid because they were waiting for Luke and Leia to grow up. Simple as that.

  • And Callista wasn’t afraid of Luke’s power. She just didn’t think Luke would want a wife who couldn’t use the Force and she couldn’t stand not having it when he did.

  • So Leia is on a leave of absence and someone, this Gavrisom person, is acting in her place then?

  • I thought Mara had left Karrde’s employ and was working as an independent trader. At least that’s what she was doing in our last book. Why would contacting Karrde involve Mara? And why does that bother Luke?

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chapter 3:
Leia uses the Force to calm her anger after learning that Han took it upon himself to go to Iphigin. She considers flying there herself or have President Gavrisom send someone else. But either would be an embarrassment for Han and make the New Republic look bad to the Diamala who don’t think much of it anyway.
When she hears Luke went along, she decides they can handle it.
She watches her children standing by the speeder bikes, talking to the Noghri settlers here. Cakhmaim approaches her and greets her.
He mentions he’s been told she has too little time for relaxation. He hopes she will take advantage of it now as, among the Noghri, she and her children will always have a refuge. He does, however, have something he’d like to discuss.
The clan dukhas from Honoghr had been transported here. The clans who’d settled near Mount Tantiss never wanted to forget the Empire and what it had taken from them. Inside the main dukha, Leia is brought to a Devaronian who calls himself Lak Jit.
He was found digging near Mount Tantiss and had already discovered six datacards which he claims possession of under the Debble Agreement. The agreement was a compromise between Noghri clans who wanted to wipe out every trace of the Emperor’s presence here and the New Republic archeologist who’d wanted plundered items found here returned to their proper owners.
Jit claims Karrde told him about the agreement. The datacards are historical artifacts that he believes falls under the terms. But they only have his word on them. Leia offers him money in exchange for having the cards examined for their worth and then paying him the balance. She will decide the worth unless he’d rather they go back to Coruscant for someone else to review it.
While Jacen tries to get her attention because he’s bored, she reviews the cards. She goes through the titles on the cards. Some of it is probably pointless, but since it was in the Emperor’s storage house, it could be important. One of the cards startles her, though. It’s labeled “The Hand of Thrawn”.
She plugs it into her datapad, but it appears to be scrambled. Suddenly, Lak Jit scrambles through the opening and steals a speeder bike. Khabarakh explains he surprised them. Leia looks over the cards. They are all dirty, but one only has dirty edges. Leia tells them they have to find him as he has one of the cards he found.

Leia goes with them but Jit’s ship gets into the air. It’s not long before it’s pursued by a ship Leia recognizes. The Wild Karrde with both Talon Karrde and Mara Jade aboard.

Later, Leia compliments Karrde for forcing the ship down with minimal damage. He’s here hoping to hire Noghri to protect his associates in more dangerous parts of the galaxy. He’s been quiet about it as he didn’t want to damage Leia’s reputation given her closeness to the Noghri.
Leia reminds him she hasn’t forgotten his role in helping them stop Grand Admiral Thrawn. He knows the others haven’t forgotten either. They just resented having to rely on him to help.
She expresses her apologies for the way things are and asks what happened to Mara’s trading company. She heard it had failed but never found out why. Karrde assures it was just closed down. It was never intended to be a permanent thing; just something to give Mara experience running her own company. She will take over his organization some day.
They walk to the clearing where Lak Jit protests his treatment and plans to lodge complaints to everyone he can think of. Karrde adds to his employer, too, which happens to be Karrde himself. He wants to know where Jit was taking the extra datacard.
The Devaronian admits he was going to sell it to someone who would have paid more for it than Leia. They decide to read it and decide what it’s worth. Karrde may or may not keep him with the organization after that.
Karrde offers to let Leia clean the card using equipment on his ship. She knows that will give him the opportunity to read it. He suggests considering that opportunity his fee for helping her.
At the end, they are both stunned. They all know now why Borsk Fey’lya tried so hard to get Mount Tantiss destroyed all those years ago. They remember the councilor begging Karrde to fly Leia to Wayland to help Han destroy the storehouse. He’d fretted that things there could destroy the Bothan people and the galaxy.
He was right and Lak Jit has found it.
Karrde wonders if it might be a forgery. Leia doesn’t think it is. The library on Alderaan had information on the Caamas attack that was never made public. The destruction of that world had happened before her time, but she’s seen the images in history records.
It had been brutal. The Caamasi people were good and noble. No one knew who had attacked the planet. Even their political opponents had condemned it. Leia mentions there was a settlement on Alderaan, living in secret, hoping that they could return and restore their world.
Karrde remembers smuggling in supplies for them under the nose of Alderaan’s customs official. He also wondered why they never stopped him. Leia tells him her father suspected Palpatine’s involvement in the destruction ever since he realized how the Republic was being twisted. The Caamasi would have opposed the Emperor.
But the idea that Bothans were involved will surprise everyone. Mara appears and tells Karrde she sent out an alert about Jit.
Karrde asks if Mara has anything to add about what they read on the cards. Mara knows he’s wondering if she knows the names of the Bothans involved in the sabotage of Caamas’s shield generators. She explains she knows only what was on the card. She never knew the Bothans were involved and the Caamasi incident was already in the past by the time she was found and trained to be the Hand.
Leia finds it surprising the Emperor never mentioned it to her, even to gloat. Leia knows that Lak Jit is bound to spread the story about what he found. She can try to get word to Coruscant so the High Council can be prepared for the backlash.
Karrde offers her a ride back, including the children and her Noghri honor guard. He asks if there was anything significant on the other cards. Leia thinks of the Hand of Thrawn label and says there might be.
She can’t help thinking of Mara when she first met her. The angry young woman who’d promised to kill Luke. She might know what the Hand of Thrawn is. But Leia can’t ask her.
Karrde does think it’s possible that the Caamas incident was so long ago that no one will care who was to blame. None of them believe that, though.
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  • We had previously been told Leia had stopped using the Noghri as bodyguards except on rare occasions because those in the New Republic felt uncomfortable with the symbolism they represented, considering their work for Vader. Now, it appears she has an honor guard of them with her. Is this one of those rare occasions?
  • In a previous book, Mara had made a mental note about what would happen if the information about the destruction of Caamas ever got out. It certainly seemed to me then that she knew more.
  • Caamas was destroyed right after the end of the Clone Wars. Palpatine was already Emperor; the Republic was already a new Empire. Bail Organa had already seen that happen, so the Caamasi incident may have cemented his feelings about Palpatine’s brutality, but it could not have represented a fundamental shift in his beliefs.
  • Further, one of the Rebel Alliance’s early advisors was a Caamasi Jedi. I found it strange that a Caamasi would call attention to himself in such a significant role, especially a Jedi.
  • At one point, Jacen decries physical exercise because he has the Force. Leia reminds him physical endurance is still important. Han had the same problem with Jacen in Before the Storm.
  • So now we know that Mara never really left Karrde’s organization. She was just practicing being on her own when Karrde retires. Speaking of which, didn’t he already do that? I mean, how many times can a man retire?
  • Mara mentions she put out the word to their people, including Mazzic. Mazzic was one of the smugglers we met in the original Thrawn Trilogy.
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chapter 4:
Of course, the Moffs are outraged.
Moff Bemos protests that the Empire does not surrender. Pellaeon attempts to reason that a negotiated peace treaty will allow them some ability to survive, but neither Quillan nor Hort will listen.
It is Moff Disra who quiets them. He is Chief administrator of Braxant sector and ruler of the Imperial capital world which is code-named Bastion. He’s also the person Pellaeon trusts least.
Moff Edan thinks the New Republic will not let them keep their territory, especially when there are planets within it that would leave in a moment if they had a choice.
Pellaeon thinks it’s inevitable that they will lose some systems, but he also thinks there are those worlds within the New Republic that would rather live under Imperial law. Moff Vered points out that the New Republic would have to allow some systems to leave or they violate their own principles of self-determination. The Almania incident recently should remind them.
Besides, the New Republic has to deal with too many other flare-ups to try to keep unhappy worlds within their grasp. Bemos suggests if it’s that unstable, the Empire should wait until they disintegrate. Andrey agrees as it was Palpatine himself who realized long ago that so many species and cultures can never agree on anything so a strong hand is required.
Pellaeon understands this, but the New Republic could take decades to die and they would certainly crush the Empire before that happened. Sander thinks the time is right to talk to them while they can still be reasonable and see that it’s in their best interests. They all finally agree.
Later, Pellaeon goes to see Disra privately. General bel Iblis will not be arriving at Morishim for another two weeks. He has a certain respect for bel Iblis so surrendering to him is more appealing.
Disra doesn’t hate the idea of peace, but he doesn’t want to have to grovel. He introduces his aide, Major Grodin Tierce. Disra thinks it’s better to encourage conflict within the New Republic and utilize their forces to take advantage of those clashes. This does involve expanding said forces which Pellaeon knows means hiring mercenaries. He doesn’t believe the Imperial fleet should stoop to that.
Disra reminds him that the Empire has always made use of privateers, from Darth Vader on down.
Which leads Pellaeon to ask about the SoroSuub Preybirds. The line had been shut down many years ago, so he’s interested in knowing where Disra is getting them. He wants to know who the Empire is doing business with.
Disra claims it’s a group of private investors who restarted the project. Pellaeon demands their names, home systems and corporate connections. He is planning to have Intelligence look into it to make sure the entire Empire is benefiting from this.
After Pellaeon leaves, Disra asks Tierce what he thinks of the alternative to surrendering. Tierce. Tierce doesn’t want to presume to know much about these things. But Disra has evidence that the man should know more than he’s telling. He was, after all, once a Royal Guardsman.
The Emperor’s private records were duplicated and moved here to Bastion. As there’s no such thing as absolute security, Disra was able to access them. He’s not planning to expose Tierce when he needs good men, but does wonder why he didn’t die on the Death Star.
Tierce explains that Guardsmen were often rotated to stormtrooper units to keep them in fighting form. He was helping break up a rebel cell at the time. After his mission was complete, his unit heard about the Death Star. He returned to Coruscant as soon as he could, but it was chaotic. Disra remembers it well.
They both agree the Empire began falling from the top down. Tierce is aware of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s theory that the Emperor was driving his troops by using the Force. He’d served under Thrawn on the Chimaera. He’d expected Thrawn to be attacked during the battle at the Bilbringi shipyards by a commando team. Since Luke Skywalker had penetrated the ship before, Tierce assumed they would try it again so he stationed troops around the hangar bays.
It was little consolation that his troops killed the Noghri assassin, Rukh, after the traitor killed the Grand Admiral. But Tierce never identified himself to Thrawn and Thrawn never confronted him about his past.
Since they’ve reached an understanding as to what Tierce should know, Disra asks again what he thinks of his alternative plans. Tierce thinks the numbers are too heavily slanted against them for Disra’s idea to work, not even considering the various problems the New Republic is dealing with. Or the datafile Disra has on his computer filed under Lak Jit’s name.
Disra reads the file and finds that it’s perfect. The destruction of Caamas being linked to the Bothans will help tear the rebel government apart. Tierce isn’t so sure. The Empire needs a strong leader if it’s to replace a fallen government. Disra isn’t it.
Disra agrees, but he’s got a plan in motion to that effect. He takes Tierce down into the hidden chambers of his headquarters and shows him a Chiss in a white Grand Admiral’s uniform.
Tierce comes to attention and addresses Grand Admiral Thrawn. The man welcomes him, but explains he’s not who Tierce thinks he is. Disra explains that this is Flim, a talented con artist.
Disra has been planning this for a long time. It took his years to find someone who could pull it off. The eyes are surface inserts that are self-powered. Flim also has skin and hair coloring to augment his voice and acting abilities.
Disra explains that Thrawn was reported dead but it won’t take much to cast doubt on that story. Those in the Empire will allow their hopes to guide their minds and rush to follow him.
He has also been working with the pirates working out of the Cavrilhu sector. He uses his Intelligence reports to provide Captain Zothip with targets. He keeps the booty and the Empire profits from the instability.
Tierce also suggests that Zothip is the one producing the Preybirds. Disra confirms he gets all the ships as a concession for loaning Zothip groups of Mount Tantiss clones. Thrawn scattered groups all over the New Republic under cover. He doesn’t know what the Grand Admiral intended to do with them as his records say nothing.
Tierce is surprised that there are clones left and that Disra has Thrawn’s personal records. They contained five years worth of campaigns against the New Republic that were very detailed and, for now, useless.
Tierce wants to look at them. They may be able to use Flim as more than a figurehead. Disra agrees to provide the records, but wonders if he may have miscalculated. For right now, they need each other.
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  • The Almania incident occurred in The New Rebellion, but that wasn’t really an issue of a planet wanting to leave the New Republic . A more appropriate reminder would be the recent Corellian conflict in the Corellian Trilogy. Although the rebel groups were propped up by the Sacorrian Triad, the New Republic’s line, vocalized by Leia, throughout the entire series, was that the Corellian system could not leave the New Republic without the government falling apart.
  • The Cavrilhu pirates were mentioned in Dark Force Rising.

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chapter 5:


Borsk Fey’lya is saddened that it has finally come to light. He has no explanation for Leia because it’s true.


The reason it was kept quiet is because they don’t know which Bothans were involved. They only know that a group of Bothans helped Senator Palpatine gain access to the Caamas shield generators. The trail was covered too well and the Bothan clan leaders didn’t even find out about it until the early days of the Rebellion. It was that shock that spurred them to support the Alliance .


Leia believes Fey’lya is telling the truth as he knows it, but they both know that she is not the only one he has to convince. There will be those who will think the culprits are being protected. The clan leaders looked for a list of those responsible. Leia thinks this datacard had that list. She is going to have techs try to reconstruct it. If that fails, they’ll try to find another copy somewhere else.


In the meantime, they can’t pretend this didn’t happen. She will have to take it to the High Council and try to persuade President Gavrisom not to make it public. Talon Karrde has promised to keep quiet and has his people looking for the Devaronian.


Fey’lya worries that Lak Jit has already told others, especially after his treatment on Wayland. Leia is annoyed at the accusation, but Fey’lya tells her that, if Jit had taken off with the datacard, he would have approached the Bothans first. They would have bought the datacard and it would have been over.


All that is left now is to find those responsible and punish them. He thanks her for coming to him privately. The entire Bothan race will be on trial soon.


Shada D’ukal sits in a tapcafe with her employer, Mazzic, and waits for their visitor. She reminds him that Karrde wants to make sure Jit doesn’t talk. Mazzic points out that they are not on Karrde’s payroll. If the secret has a market value, they should cash it in.


She is uncomfortable with this. Personal concepts of loyalty and honor don’t always have a place in the life of a smuggler. Mazzic knows she feels guilty. He reminds her that this is how the game is played.


Jit comes in and explains that the evidence isn’t in his hands anymore, but he saw it with his own eyes. The evidence not only confirms that agents of then-Senator Palpatine sabotaged the Caamasi shield generators, but that they were Bothans. A smart man can see that the Bothans will be in for a tough time and be able to make money off of it.


Mazzic agrees and tells Shada to take care of him. She knocks Jit out and they prepare to take him to Karrde and try to negotiate a higher bounty. Shada asks if he’s not going to use that information. Mazzic tells her the news is insignificant. No one will care about a world destroyed almost 50 years ago. Remembering her own world of Emberlene, Shada agrees.


Disra waits until the four captains finish reading. Trazzen of the Obliterator tells him that pulling four Imperial Star Destroyers out of a sector fleet will reduce their ability to defend their territory.


Nalgol of Tyrannic agrees and questions Disra’s authority to give these orders anyway. Pellaeon is supposed to authorize incursions into New Republic space.


Dorja of Relentless wants to know what courier ship he’s supposed to be intercepting at Morishim. He agrees with Nalgol that he doesn’t have the authority to order missions to Morishim and Bothawui.


Argona of the Ironhand puts his ship at Disra’s disposal, but is also concerned about removing four Star Destroyers from the sector fleet.


Disra reminds them that nothing worthwhile is gained without risk. He offers to exclude them from this mission, but is interrupted by Grand Admiral Thrawn.


The captains are stunned. The Admiral explains to Disra that he chose these men and their ships carefully. He realizes they have questions about how he survived the assassination attempt, but he must keep that a secret for now. They must tell no one else besides their senior officers and only after they’ve left Imperial space. He turns to the subject of authority, but only Nalgol has questions now.


He would like some clarification on his mission to the Bothawui system. There’s nothing there worth tying up three Star Destroyers. Thrawn agrees. He is more interested in events that will be taking place over the Bothan homeworld that he plans to turn to their advantage.


Dorja is honored to serve directly under Thrawn’s command. This revelation worries Disra but Thrawn handles it smoothly.


After their departure, Disra is concerned about how dangerous they are. He demands to know why Tierce picked four captains who are not only are not very loyal to Disra, but included one who worked with Thrawn.


Flim reminds Disra that it was only a matter of time before he encountered someone who’d worked with Thrawn. It was better to handle it now where they could have dealt with the four captains privately if his charade had been exposed.


Besides, it is precisely people who do not serve Disra they need to convince to follow Thrawn instead. They will doubtlessly check the story when they leave Imperial space. In fact, Nalgol has a poison injector ring that he used to take a skin sample of Flim when he shook his hand.


He’ll compare them with the ID records that have already been altered and share his findings with the others.


Tierce explains the opening battle of a new civil war will occur at Bothawui. They will orchestrate the details of the Caamas Document so that an Imperial presence at Bothawui will do as much damage as possible.


Disra suggests they do it quickly because Pellaeon will figure out his connection to the Cavrilhu pirates soon. He’ll be upset if he finds four Star Destroyers missing.


Then, there’s also Captain Zothip who is upset because Major Tierce told him his supply of clones is being cut off. Tierce thinks Zothip has benefited enough from the clones that he shouldn’t complain. He tells Disra to buy him off or calm him down.


Disra insists that all major decisions like this be made jointly. Tierce reminds him that he was offered control of all the military aspects of this plan. He knows Disra doesn’t like being made to feel he’s not in control, but Tierce’s only goal is to destroy the Rebellion and avenge the Emperor’s death.


Flim adds that most triumvirates are unstable. He’s seen enough of them to know. But none of them can make it work without the others. Disra agrees. Tierce wants a copy of the decryption code h used to slice into the private records of both the Emperor and Thrawn. He wants to locate all sleeper cells planted so they can bring in as many trained soldiers and pilots as possible.


Disra offers to get the list for him instead. But he also considers that the time will come when he doesn’t need them.

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  • Once again, it is Senator Palpatine who is referred to with regard to the Caamas incident, rather than Emperor Palpatine. I was willing to allow that Senator was just being used as an alternate term, but Fey’lya specifically said “then-Senator” Palpatine. Additionally, as we’ve already discussed, the destruction of Caamas was close to 40 years ago, not 50.

  • Dorja appeared in Dark Force Rising.

  • So did Shada who was working with Mazzic even then. Her first appearance was in the Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina story “Hammertong: The Tale of the Tonnika Sisters”.

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chapter 6:


Wedge turns down a persistent saleswoman on Morishim. Janson jokes at his plight, pointing out his hand gestures actually meant something different.


They run into Lando Calrissian who tells them he’s wanting a chance to talk to bel Iblis. Pirates are hitting his ore shipments near Varn and scaring his customers. He’s also added a casino to the Deep Pockets.


Underwater mining is entertaining to his customers so he’s put in an observation gallery, too. But no one’s going to come there if they’re too afraid. He’s tried talking to Coruscant but their bureacrats are no better than the ones under the Empire.


Janson quips they are probably the same ones.


Fortunately, the New Republic is in the process of scaling political power back to system and sector levels. A strong centralized approach doesn’t work, as the Empire found out.


Tycho Celchu appears and pulls the group over to a Morish he’s been speaking with. New information about the destruction of Caamas has come up and it appears the Bothans were responsible. He should have known after Endor and Borleais.


Wedge reminds him that Borleais wasn’t really their fault. Lando hasn’t heard a thing. The Morish claims the information comes from the Old Recluse who lives in a cave. He’s supposed to know everything about what goes on in the galaxy.


Wedge wonders if this could be a Force-user that Luke hasn’t found yet. He wants to know where the cave is. They’ve got time to visit.


They land their ships on a bluff overlooking the city. Wedge, Lando, Tycho and Janson walk into the cave. The Old Recluse greets them in his language and charges them to hear the story.


He starts it until Lando realizes something and reaches for a curtain. The Morish screams and makes a grab for something. The Rogue pilots bring their weapons out and make him sit quietly.


Lando shows them a fully functioning Imperial communications center behind it. Dusty electronics have a unique smell. Looking at the monitor, Wedge starts to tell Tycho to get to his ship and call the base. There’s a Corellian Corvette coming in with an Imperial ID. Then he spots a Star Destroyer and has all of them get to their fighters.


The Peregrine is on its way, but that leaves a couple of A-Wing and X-Wing wings. The fighters will have to slow the Destroyer down.


They find that the ship is targeting the Corvette, but don’t want to take the chance it’s a trick to get a ship under the energy shield. When the topside sensor group is hit, the Corvette loses its drive and shields.


The Destroyer activates its tractor beam. Wedge orders the group to break off. They can’t do anything. Then Lando gets an idea. He wants them to dilute the Imperial jamming enough to try to communicate with the Corvette.


The there fighters pull up all transmission frequencies at full power. The static flickers, but cuts off as the Corvette is pulled into the bay. The Star Destroyer takes off.


Lando did get a message but an incredibly staticky one. They decide to get the recording to General bel Iblis.


Muunilinst is the financial core of the Empire. Its history dates far back into the days of the Old Republic. Pellaeon is there, meeting with six senior officers who confirm with him that the Moffs have already agreed.


General Kyte asks about new equipment and weapons that were supposed to help them. Pellaeon admits some of the weapns haven’t worked as well as promised; some of the equipment is tainted by treason. They are briefly interrupted by a banker named Lord Graemon whom Pellaeon asks to wait for him.


Pallaeon explains that Graemon is a thread in the web of treachery of which he speaks. It appears that Graemon is helping to funnel Imperial funds into a consortium that is building the Preybirds the Empire has been using.


This deal was made outside of proper channels and some high-ranking officials are siphoning off huge amounts for their personal gain. The deal also includes supplying pirate gangs with this equipment.


The fact that Kyte and Graemon noticed each other and that Pellaeon explains all this while looking at Kyte means that he knows.


General Ramic wants to know how a peace treaty with the New Republic will stop this. Pellaeon thinks that they will be able to track the culprits more efficiently. Some in the fleet are involved in this.


He wants them to consider all the ramifications of a proposed treaty. He adjourns for an hour.


Ramic disagrees with the very idea. He believes the New Republic will self-destruct. The Caamas issue may very well be the key. If not, something else will. He doesn’t see why the Empire has to humiliate themselves in front of the aliens.


However, he’s a loyal officer and, if the Moffs have agreed, he will obey.


Pellaeon doesn’t know if the New Republic will accept the offer, but he’s sent Colonel Vermel to the Morishim system to extend it.


He’s also convinced that pirate gangs are involved in all this business. He’s found evidence that New Republic transports are being hit, but High Command isn’t the one deciding which ones. Also, the gangs are being supplemented with sleeper cells Grand Admiral Thrawn set up.


It’s the only alternative to believing that regular troopers are being siphoned off. General Kyte is Pellaeon’s prime suspect. He might panic and lead Intelligence to the others.


Ramic warns him that every web has something nasty in the middle.


Tierce reports that Dorja’s mission was more or less successful. He had full jamming but some of Vermel’s message might have gotten through. There was some resistance from some X-Wings hanging around.


Dorja is on the way back, while the others have made their last report. They’ll be out of contact for now. Still, the possibility of a leaked message concerns Disra and he wonders if they shouldn’t speed up their timetable.


Tierce assures him that no one is going to pay attention to the incident.


Bel Iblis agrees the message is muddy, but they wouldn’t have it at all if Calrissian hadn’t tried. While this could be a simple case of a defector taking off with a ship, the general doesn’t think so.


The Empire can’t waste a Star Destroyer chasing a stolen ship. They took him alive and made sure he didn’t talk to anyone. The message is bad, but the name bel Iblis can almost be heard in it.


He goes through the message again and thinks he hears the word Vermel. He believes that’s a member of Admiral Pellaeon’s staff.


There’s something else going on here. He wants to make copies of this message and see what he can find.

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chapter 7:


The Grand Convocation Chamber of the New Republic had been completed only three months earlier. The old Senate Hall had been weakend beyond repair by Kueller’s attack.


Leia had hoped the new design would encourage cooperation. Right now, that’s not happening. Some Senators hold that the entire population should be punished for the actions of a few. Some others do not believe that the Bothans do not know the names of those involved.


President Gavrisom points out that this document has been brought to their attention as a point of information. They will not debate punishment until or unless the perpetrators are found.


After the assembly,C-3PO approaches Leia to tell her Han has returned. He didn’t mention the mission to Iphigin and C-3PO didn’t ask. They are joined by the Ishori senator, Ghic Dx’ono.


He wishes to speak with Leia privately. He takes her down to her office where she sees three people standing there. One of them is his aide. The other two wear hooded cloaks. She knows that they are Caamasi.


Han expected to wait in Leia’s office for a long time, but he’s surprised when he hears the outer door open. Leia’s voice and others can be heard. He waits to see if she brings her guests in. Sudddenly, the intercom comes on.


He hears the voices explain they do not want vengeance and it is too late for justice. He thinks Leia wants him to hear this conversation, but doesn’t want him out there.


The Ishori senator tries to convince them that it’s never too late for justice. Then Leia’s comm. pings. Han sets the intercom to record the conversation and picks up the comm. to find Talon Karrde on the other end.


Karrde asks if he’s heard yet about the Caamasi datacard that was found on Wayland. Han hasn’t but he tells Karrde that Leia is speaking with two Caamasi and a couple of Ishori now. Karrde is disturbed as it means the Diamala will probably come into this mess on the other side now.


He explains to Han about the datacard and what it said. He is calling to tell Leia that Mazzic has caught Lak Jit. They’ll keep him as long as they can, but she should know he’s spread the news to anyone willing to pay him enough credits for it. This matter won’t remain private for long.


Han tells him about the pirates they ran into on Iphigin. Besides being well-equipped, Luke says that there were clones aboard. Karrde guesses they are leftovers from Thrawn’s campaigns, but he’s never heard of clones serving on pirate ships.


The Empire could be hiring them out in exchange for a pick of targets.


Karrde will look into it for a price. Han asks when he will just give up and come over to their side. Karrde asks what it took to get him out of the independent life of a trader. Han says it was Leia. Karrde asks if she has a sister.


Luke has gone after the Cavrilhu gang and has gotten the location of one of their bases in the Kauron system.


Karrde thinks Luke showing up will scare them and force them underground. He asks how Luke has been. Han guesses he’s fine. Karrde admits he’s had a feeling. Mara has been restive lately and touchy ever since they met Leia on Wayland. He doesn’t know if it’s related to Luke.


Han says he got the same reaction from Luke the last time they brought up Mara. They wonder if the two Force-sensitives are sensing something.


The Caamas situation is not what the New Republic needs. They’d been united against the Empire for two decades. Now that the Empire is in a laughable condition, it’s time for old resentments to pop up again.


Leia pops in. Han tells her about his conversation. She’s worried about this hurting the New Republic. He reminds her that the Almanian rebellion didn’t. She explains that their problem then was handling Kueller without being heavy-handed like the Empire. Caamas will polarize honest people who just want justice but cannot agree on what form it should take.


She senses something important is coming. It started when she met Karrde on Wayland.


Using a cloaking shield, Nalgol watches his ship become invisible. He still gets a queasy feeling. The scout ships are off and he wonders why they are here.


He’d never worked under Thrawn, the Tyrannic having been on the edge of Imperial space then, but he had to admit the Empire was doing well then. He wonders how Thrawn pulled off escaping the assassin and why he’s been lying low all these years, while incompetents like Daala bled Imperial resources.


And why he has partnered with Disra.


Dorja had vouched for Thrawn, but then Argona vouched for Disra. That doesn’t mean much. The genetic analysis has confirmed, however, that it is Thrawn back there. They will have to see if he’s the genius everyone thinks he is.


As far as the Bothans are concerned, there’s nothing out here but a comet. The ship passes the comet and uses its tether lines. They aren’t strong enough to hold both comet and ship together, but they will give the held the feedback to make sure the orbiting bodies stayed in the same position.

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chapter 8:


Luke has knocked out someone named Pinchers, disguised himself and is now trying to deliver a shipment to an uncooperative pirate. He is allowed to land after taking his smuggler’s freighter, hiding his X-Wing inside, through the convoluted path of asteroids.


After disembarking, they try to trick him by claiming to have spoken with his boss who’s never heard of him. Having pulled some information from Pinchers’ mind, Luke knows the boss is supposed to be out of contact and they’re just testing him.


He goes to get something to eat while they unload the ship, then pretends to go check his ship for damage. Inside, he packs himself inside the emptied shell of a security breach droid. They unload it and take it to a storeroom.


Unfortunately, their security scanners are good enough that they realize someone is inside. Luke comes out and admits he wants to speak to their captain. He wants to know where they’re getting their clones.


That’s the wrong statement. When Luke is forced to fight with his lightsaber, they realize who he is. Unfortunately, they are well-prepared for a Jedi, having put a considerable amount of time and funds into building a trap designed to hold one after Luke’s academy started pumping them out years ago.


Luke finds himself trapped in a cage with his lightsaber pinned into a barred area where it cannot reach the cell bars. The air is slowly being sucked out.


He uses the Force to pull two blaster power packs from his belt, push them together and overload them to make a crude bomb that erupts with shrapnel being sent into Luke’s body. But it has the desired effect and he is able to free his lightsaber and escape.


He cannot find R2 and the pirates seemed to have taken off. When his comlink pings, however, he finds Mara Jade on the other end.

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chapter 9:


On the Starry Ice, Mara compliments Luke for taking on an entire pirate nest. Karrde sent her to help him.


It seems the pirates are abandoning their base, destroying it in their wake. He admits his X-Wing is hidden inside the ship he brought here, but he cannot raise R2. She tells him they are jamming regular comm. frequencies, but she brought in some harmonics.


When the jamming stops, R2 can be heard squealing. He and the ship are alright, but the pirates were coming for him so he popped the X-Wing out of the ship and chased them off by blasting the landing bay’s atmospheric generators. That means the bay is full of vacuum and they doubt a vac suit is nearby.


Mara decides they’re going to have to come in after him. The asteroids have moved, though, and the explosions are headed Luke’s way. He decides they will have to meet him halfway. He gets to the landing bay and will have to go into a Jedi hibernation trance as soon as he clears the blast doors.


When he blinks out in the Force, Mara sees his body tumbling toward the ship. They move the ship toward him, but the speed will cause him to bounce off the hull or hit the airlock wall hard enough to break his neck.


Mara reaches out through the Force and tries to grab him. His body slams into hers and he comes out of the trance. She notes his disguise and asks him why he just didn’t use the Force. He tells her he’s been trying to cut back on that unless absolutely necessary.


R2 has brought the X-Wing aboard. They decide to pursue the pirates for now. They encounter a strange ship at the edge of the field but it disappears when an asteroid blocks it from view.


For now, they cannot go further. He decides to head to a New Republic medical facility. Mara’s captain tells her she thinks they make a good team. Mara tells her to bite her tongue.

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chapter 10:


On Dordolum, a speaker named Drend Navett causes a riot at a Bothan shipping company. He tosses a couple of grenades in the process, determined to see the Empire buried under the New Republic’s ashes if he cannot restore it.


Leia looks at a petition that was delivered an hour ago. Gavrisom wanted Leia and Fey’lya to see it first. Fey’lya insists this will be ruinous. It’s hard enough to locate an uninhabitable world for the Caamasi but to pay for it to be reformed to the original Caamas is impossible.


It’s further complicated by the fact that a number of bad investments have left the Bothan clans deeply in debt. This crisis has caused investors to drop out. They will recover, but it will take time. If this petition is made public, they will lose even more.


Gavrisom thinks he can delay some of the discussion. He sends Leia to Bothawui to examine the financial records and determine if the situation is as dire as Fey’lya claims it is.


Disra is satisfied things are going well. Flim points out they are also going slowly. They have a few raids and some riots to their credit. Patience may be important for soldiers, but conning requires a quick bag. If you give your mark too much time to think about it, they’ll walk away.


Tierce explains that the situation they’ve created needs to simmer. Flim is more upset that the role of a lifetime has been limited to the two of them and four captains. They agree he will be revealed to the New Republic soon, but they need to find out first which worlds are for and against the Bothans. Disra isn’t excited about this part of the plan. The fake Thrawn was intended to inspire Imperial forces, not scare the New Republic into launching an offensive.


Tierce has heard rumors that a petition has been filed. He wants to get a copy of it and circulate it publicly. Flim is concerned that the New Republic could easily end this whole plot if they find the list of Bothan agents. Disra has already taken steps to take care of that. The only intact set of records is here on Bastion.


Tierce points out that’s not true. He’d assumed Disra had known about the records on Yaga Minor. There might be a copy there. Disra vows to head out there that night, but Tierce fears that the head of the base there knows Pellaeon very well. With a good records archive here on Bastion, a personal visit by Disra might look suspicious.


Tierce will go himself as he’s not recognizable. He just needs Disra’s decryption codes. Disra notes he keeps trying to get those and wonders why. Tierce asks if he’d rather the rebels get to the list first.


Disra speculates that Tierce could be doing all of this just to get into the secret files so he can disappear. Tierce finds it amusing that Disra can go from fearing he will take over the plot to fearing he will desert them. Disra is not dissuaded and demands to know what Tierce wants with the files.


The major explains that he isn’t sure. The Emperor had many secrets, some of which may be of use to them. He won’t know until he sees them. Disra thinks that was a pointless thing to hide as he has copies of those here at Bastion.


Flim reminds Disra that whatever secrets Tierce finds at Yaga Minor can’t be used as well alone as with the two of them.


Disra’s private comm. goes off. Captain Zothip demands to know how and why Luke Skywalker showed up at his base asking about clones. They trapped him, but he escaped and they had to blow the base.


Zothip thinks that the Empire decided not to work with the Cavrilhu pirates anymore, so pulled their clones and pointed Skywalker in their direction. They already know Pellaeon is investigating their finances.


Disra thinks Skywalker might have been at Iphigim and just followed them back to the base. The man is a Jedi, so he could have found out all kinds of things. Tierce hands him a quick note which he reads while speaking with Zothip.


He tells the captain he has a job for him. In three weeks, Admiral Pellaeon will be at Pesitiin for a secret meeting. He wants the pirates to attack him. He doesn’t want serious damage done, just enough to bring the Chimaera under fire. He also wants the attacking ships to have Corellian insignia on them.


Flim understands that Disra is trying to make Pellaeon think his offer has been rejected. However, he doesn’t get the Corellian insignia. Tierce explains that a New Republic attack would indicate that Coruscant as a whole won’t deal with him. Even Pellaeon knows they wouldn’t do that. But bel Iblis might. So if Corellian ships attack, it will make him think just a faction of rebels object. After all, they don’t want the surrender idea to be dropped yet. Pellaeon will decide to make his overtures to someone else which will take time and will leave Pesitiin before bel Iblis has a chance to show up on the off chance that enough of Vermel’s message got through.


In the meantime, they are close to the Bothawui riot. Navett is the best agitator. They are also going to start activating the remainder of the sleeper groups.


Flim does wonder what Skywalker was doing at the base. Disra brushes him off. The Jedi was just trying to connect dots and won’t be able to. Neither he nor Tierce wants to hear Flim’s concerns regarding that matter.

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chapter 11:
Karrde greets his associates, Dankin, Chin and the Togorian H’sishi. He sends H’sishi off to retrieve some data before chastising the others for the trick they were going to pull. They consider it an initiation for new crewers. After all, Mara allows them to do it.
Karrde points out Mara wants to use the Force to judge a new crewer’s reaction while under stress. He also mentions Togorians aren’t creatures you want to surprise.
When she comes back, he gives her some instructions. The ship comes out of hyperspace in front of an Imperial Star Destroyer. She comes up out of her seat and hisses. When the others react calmly while reporting the status, she sits down and does her own work.
The comm. opens and Booster Terrik greets them. He asks if they are in need of goods or just breaking in a new crew member. H’sishi gets it, but Karrde confirms they are shopping for information.
Terrik gives him a docking bay and reminds them Trader’s Alley is cash only. H’sishi doesn’t appreciate being made to look foolish. Karrde assures her that she looked startled but returned to her duties as she should have. This was a test to see how she’d react to an unexpected situation. Had she panicked, he would have moved her to a less stressful post.
Nawara Ven greets Karrde at the bottom of the ramp and relates all of the repairs needed on this ship. Karrde mentions he’d been interested in buying if Booster wants to sell, because he’d rather the ship not fall into someone else’s hands.
On the bridge, he finds Booster with his family. His daughter, Mirax, and her husband, Rogue Squadron pilot Corran Horn. The latter looks uncomfortable enough that Karrde knows they’re here, but he’d rather his associates not know.
Booster assures him that Karrde’s top people are as trustworthy as he is. This doesn’t make Corran feel any better. He does ask about Mara whom Karrde says is flying the Starry Ice and will be meeting him here. Karrde then asks Mirax about her little one. Six-year old Valin Horn is playing in the crew pit.
Booster has bought him a new chordokeylo to replace the worn out one he’s been using to practice his music. He does advise Karrde to keep the family’s presence here a secret. Both he and Karrde think the latter could be of assistance on the Horns’ errand, but Corran refuses.
Karrde gives up, but does hand over a tonal card for Valin’s instrument. He knows it’s customary to bring a small gift for a host’s child. Corran turns to Booster who swears he didn’t tell Karrde they were coming or anyone else on the crew.
Karrde admits his information sources are good.
Knowing this will cost him, Corran goes ahead and explain the situation. The riots that have erupted since the release of the Caamas Document have revealed the word vengeance. But it’s being used as a name. They are trying to find out if Vengeance is an organization. If so, is it home-grown or being funded by someone else.
Karrde knows he means the Empire. He warns them against making those kinds of automatic assumptions. He can’t say that the Empire is or is not behind it, but he has noticed that the New Republic often points fingers in that direction whenever something goes wrong.
Corran understands this, too, which is why their visit was supposed to be a secret. Karrde agrees to make inquiries. In the meantime, he has two questions of his own. Luke Skywalker recently chased the Cavrilhu pirates off their Amorris base at Kuaron. He wants to know if Booster knows where they are now. Booster doesn’t know of another base.
The second question also involves Skywalker. His initial encounter with the pirates at Iphigin led him to believe there were clones aboard. Corran hasn’t heard of clone casualties in years. As far as he knows, there shouldn’t be anymore from the Mount Tantiss project.
If there were, it would seem that Daala or one of the others would have used them before now.
Karrde thinks they should try to find out if these are really Imperial leftoevers or if someone has gotten a cloning cylinder working.
The Starry Ice approaches and Mara chats with Karrde when another ship approaches. It looks like a severely modified TIE. It sends a transmission and then vanishes over the Venture’s superstructure. Mara explains she and Luke chased one just like it toward the Cavrilhu pirates’ Kuaron base.
She is trying to decrypt the message but is having trouble. Booster thinks it’s just a useless ship like the Qella one Lando chased all over the place.
Mara does, however, recognizes the name Thrawn in it. She points out the full name Mitth’raw’nuruodo is used. They are uncomfortable that she knows Thrawn’s full name. Mara explains that she didn’t know Thrawn well, but she did know that and was one of the few people who did. The only thing she knows about his early history is that an Imperial commander found him on a deserted Unknown Regions world while chasing smugglers and was impressed. He brought him back to Coruscant. It appeared that Thrawn had been exiled there by his own people.
Perhaps the unknown ship carried someone who finally realized he was gone and came looking for him. Corran isn’t sure it’s Thrawn they’re looking for. One of the datacards that Lak Jit found included a label “The Hand of Thrawn”.
It was scrambled so they didn’t get anything, but Leia Organa Solo thinks that Thrawn may have had his own version of the Emperor’s Hand. Bel Iblis wanted to find out if Booster had heard of such a thing.
Booster and Karrde haven’t. Mara hasn’t either and she doesn’t think Thrawn would have such an agent. He didn’t get into political manipulation the way the Emperor did. Besides, he had the Noghri.
Karrde mentions that the card must mean something. This ship may be the key so they will have to track them down. Mara has the vector from their jump and they still have the one from the Kuaron ship. By plotting an intercept point, they find the Nirauan system between Wild Space and the Unknown Regions.
Karrde is reluctant to pursue this. Mara suggests turning it over to the New Republic to handle. Corran offers to take it back to Bel Iblis but he doubts the general can do anything about it in the middle of the Caamas brouhaha.
Karrde thinks this whole thing is too easy somehow and could be a trap. But it has to be investigated. He has Mara check it out. When Booster goes to back to operating his ship, though, Karrde leans over to Corran and asks if he sensed anything unusual about the flyby.
Corran admits he felt the presence of something alien. He doesn’t know if they were clones or not. He also mentions that his Force-sensitivity is not something that is widely known. Karrde answers he’s in the business of information. Corran knows this also means selling it.
Karrde admits it’s nice to have information the opposition doesn’t have sometimes. He’ll keep it quiet and is sure Corran can help him out some time. Out of respect for Mirax, he’ll make sure it’s nothing dangerous.
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  • If Valin Horn is six, then he was born 13 years ABY; 9 years after ROTJ, which just about fits the post-I, Jedi period. This is also his first appearance and mention.
  • I’m sure we remember the Qella ship from the Black Fleet Crisis.
  • Is Nawara Ven also accompanying the Horns? He used to fly with Rogue Squadron, but his presence here is unexplained.

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chapter 12
On Borcorash, Shada climbs up the wall of the Resinem Entertainment Complex prior to Mazzic’s meeting with a Kubaz representing a Hutt crime cartel.
The grimy walls reminds her of growing up on the world of Emberlene where a living had to be eked among the ruined cities. The few supplies that came in were earned by the work of the Mistryl shadow guards.
The Eleven Elders of the People had commissioned them. Shada had wanted to be one all her life. They were a sisterhood of warrior women who kept their people alive. No one else cared enough to notice.
She resents the attention Caamas had been getting recently. Her world was damaged too far in the past for people to remember it.
She gets to the top of the building as is confronted by someone. She recognizes Karoly D’ulin. Karoly makes her give up her blaster and release her climbing hooks. They had worked together 20 years ago on Tatooine during the Hammertong incident. Karoly has gotten more experienced then.
She brings news that Shada is being pulled out. Their new client is waiting. Mazzic’s organization isn’t going to become the galaxy-wide group that they’d hoped when she was planted here. Since Talon Karrde’s Smuggler’s Alliance went under, the Eleven think Shada is wasted here.
Shada can’t just abandon Mazzic after twelve years. She wants to at least resign, but Karoly insists she leave now. Shada guesses that their new client is about to kill Mazzic. Karoly reminds her who they are. It’s not their business if a Hutt wants to kill another smuggler. Shada thinks it’s not Karoly’s business, but it is Shada’s. She remembers when the Mistryl were about honor and loyalty, a step above hired mercenaries.
She jumps off the edge of the roof, her safety line goes taut and she swings up back to the rooftop. She grabs an avian and one of ts eggs and tosses the bird at Karoly who fires at it. A moment later, Shada tosses the egg and blinds Karoly.
They struggle but Karoly gets snagged in the safety line and Shada leaps one last time over the roof, knocking the other woman down.
She evades a sniper and grabs a weapon, beaming it on the other smugglers. The exchange goes off smoothly. Karoly approaches her and tells her that the Eleven won’t like this. They will send a squad after her if she stays.
Karoly warns her to stay off of Emberlene and avoid other Mistryl for a long time. Shada tells her the Eleven will have more important things to worry about soon. Karoly bitterly laughs. She admits that she almost wants to laugh when she thinks of Caamas, Alderaan and that backwater Noghri world, Honoghr, along with the other worlds that get cried over.
Shada reminds her that being bitter doesn’t help. Karoly says it proves she’s alive. Shada asks if that’s how she wants to live.
After Luke gets patched up by an Emdee droid, he meets with R2 to decide where they’re going next. Tracking down the clones is a straightforward goal but it’s cost him a drip in a bacta tank. They’d also gotten to see Mara.
He’d expected to see her again and isn’t convinced Han hadn’t had something to do with it. But their encounter hadn’t been tense or, at least, he hadn’t picked up on any. He decides to mediate.
In his mind, the galaxy spans out. He sees Wedge and Rogue Squadron in battle, his students leaving the academy empty, himself standing on a balcony in a darkened canyon over a sea of stars, Han and Leia facing a mob.
She has her lightsaber as beings push through a door. Han with his blaster. A hidden sniper.
They vanish into a swirl of sight and sound.
Then he sees Mara surrounded by rock and floating in water as if dead. He wakes up. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do. Luke has R2 search for the world he saw himself at in the vision. They come up with the Canyonade on Cejansij.
He thinks Han and Leia, his students and Rogue Squadron can take care of themselves. He leaves in his X-Wing trying not to think of his vision of Mara.
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  • The Hammertong Incident was also detailed in the Tales of the Mos Eisley Cantina story “Hammertong: The Tale of the ‘Tonnika Sisters’” Karoly’s first appearance was then, too.

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chapter 13:


Leia can tell that Ceok Orou’cya, First Secretary of the Combined Bothan Clans, is worried. He explains that her unannounced visit and request is irregular. Only one of the Combined Clan Leaders can grant authorization to see the records and none are on Bothawui at the moment.


Leia believes that Fey’lya would also have access to those records, but the First Secretary explains that the Councilor’s presence is needed, not just a letter. She understands that, but she could use Fey’lya’s personal possessions, such as his computer or droids.


They show him a datacard that authorizes use of Fey’lya’s property, including SeePO, who has already complained on the way how free and loose his owners are with giving him away when it’s convenient.


It doesn’t seem to boost his dignity that the sale isn’t genuine.


Orou’cya escorts them to the records room.


Navett had promised Major Tierce a huge crowd, but even this is better than he imagined. Navett moves his people into position. The crowd also includes a large number of Froffli who are known for vindictiveness, whose government has already come out in favor of sanctions against the Bothans and whose light machinery industry has been battling the Bothans for supremacy for years.


In the archives room, Han and Leia hear the crowd approach. Han decides to head out and take a look. He finds a huge crowd filling the entire street. A Bothan voice urges calm. Han notes an elderly Bothan wearing the robes of a clan leader. Obviously the First Secretary was stalling them earlier, but Han doubts this elder can do much to calm the crowd.


Navett aims his rifle at the Bothan who appears on the balcony, then notices a human figure on an upper one. He realizes it is Han Solo. His cohort realizes it, too. Navett tells him they will hit both, Solo first.


Secretary Orou’cya had gone to Leia to ask her assistance defending them. She is a Jedi, after all. He points to her lightsaber. She offers to try to speak with them, but the Secretary says one of the clan leaders has already tried.


She thinks she might be able to assure them their concerns are being heard. Bringing C-3PO along to translate, she heads to the balcony. Before getting there, she feels a hint of evil, stretches out with the Force and hears a shot sound.


Han turns to find an object imbedded in the wall behind his left shoulder. It erupts in blasterfire. He wrenches back as pain hits that shoulder and drops behind the guardrail. Pulling his blaster and ignoring the purple haze in front of his eyes, he looks for the gunman.


The crowd opens up to reveal a Mishtak injured on the ground and a Leresai lying still. Someone points to Han and shouts that the murderer is there. The crowd comes to life and surges toward the doors.


Leia ignites her lightsaber and announces herself. She prepares to speak to the slowing mob, but the Bothan guards shout and start firing into the crowd. Everything becomes chaotic at that point.


They have to use her lightsaber to cut the stairway free from the balcony, while her two Noghri bodyguards, having snuck into the building, send a rope down for her.


Admiral Pellaeon is told by Major Tschel that there’s a transmission coming in. Commander Dreyf tells him that he has backtracked Lord Graemon and his finances. Apparently, he’s got a hand in nearly everything, including New Republic interests.


There is nothing specific connecting him to the pirate gangs, but there is a solid link between General Kyte and the Cavrilhu Pirates.


They are still working on who’s been manipulating all this, though.


Dreyf also reports that he’s heard there has been a huge riot on Bothawui over the Caamas Document issue. There have been casualties. Pellaeon knows about the unrest that’s erupted over the past few weeks. He wonders if the New Republic really is collapsing and, if so, why he’s trying to surrender the Empire to it?


He can’t have this Caamas Document getting in the way. What would the New Republic offer to make the controversy go away?


He makes a decision. Pellaeon knows that returning to Bastion and checking the Imperial Library will be reported to Disra. But there’s a complete set of records at Yaga Minor. The Chimaera is scheduled to be there four meetings from now.


He will try to find a copy of the Document and offer it to the New Republic for concessions. Of course, the meeting will have to take place with its representatives and the admiral is considering checking to see if there are any messages from Vermel yet.


It’s not been that long since the major left, though, and Bel Iblis is probably busy with the political crisis.


Han insists he didn’t fire his blaster. Witnesses say he did but some of them also claim the Bothan clan leader did, too.


Guards arrive with bits of goldPO pieces. Orou’cya offers to have him repaired, but Han refuses. Gavrisom has called from Coruscant. Since Leia wants him to have their side of the story first, she decides to take care of it at once.


One of the Noghri comes in and shows Han the remains of an Imperial delusion weapon. It’s a redirection crystal and blast tube filled with Tibanna gas that’s used to fire a blaster shot near someone who’s being framed for murder. All it takes is a blastershot into the tube and it deflects the energy out.


No one saw the sniper because he probably used a rare Imperial sniper weapon that can fire an invisible shot. This certainly indicates that Imperial agents turned the demonstration into a riot.


Han hands the remainder of the tube back and tells the Noghri not to tell the Bothans about it. They’ll find some way to use this to get back at the Empire.

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chapter 14:


The Starry Ice comes out of hyperspace at the Nirauan system. They spot the same kind of ship that buzzed the Errant Venture. Mara decides to allow time for the target zone to rotate away from them and then she’ll sneak down in a starfighter and have a look at what’s down there.


The planet had looked dark from above. Mara doesn’t think it looks much better up close. In the starfighter, she reports back to the Ice that she’s finding some hills. Then she uncovers a ravine that is probably where the other ship disappeared.


Holes in the sides of the ravines do not look natural. Then she thinks she finds the front door. Mara wonders whether or not to take the starfighter in or walk. She decides to go on foot to attract less notice, but she’s going in armed with her two blasters and lightsaber.


She remembers Luke Skywalker giving her the saber, the one that had belonged to his father, when they had been allies. Now, she doesn’t know what they are.


Using her comlink, she describes everything she sees, heading into a cave. Inside is a fortress. She stops and hears an air vehicle approaching. Mara’s danger senses erupts. She spins around and something dark flies past. She fires once. A second flying shadow drops down and grabs the blaster from her hand.


She pulls the lightsaber and sees the flying creatures watching her and speaking to her. She wonders where Skywalker is when she needs him. The voices get louder and she thinks she’s hit a nerve.


When movement catches her eye, she spins around and sees a cloud of mynocklike creatures flying into the mouth of the cave. In the midst of them is her ship being carried off. She jumps forward, loses balance and falls toward a sharp-edged stone.


She wakes up in pain. She doesn’t know where she is. Her captain, Faughn, may not have any way to come to Mara’s aid except to bring the Ice in herself. She cannot risk the ship when she’s the only one with the information Mara provided.


She talks to herself about walking to the fortress and renting a room. The voices at the back of her mind seem to disapprove. She won’t have to wait long. Karrde will have someone here shortly to get her out.

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chapter 15:


Lando is stunned at the prices security for his ore mining will cost him. His associate explains that the New Republic is taking a hands-off approach out here. As a result, the Clatear and the Nhoras are going to start fighting again. They’d never gotten along. Even the Old Republic Jedi couldn’t solve the problem. But the Clatear were oppressed by the Empire and the Nhora were ignored. This means the Nhora don’t have much experience with war and are hiring up all the mercenaries.


Lando is frustrated that all the last twenty years of war has accomplished is that it is now allowing the in-fighting that the Empire had interrupted to start anew.


He marches past a demonstration demanding justice for Caamas and then thinks about it. Most demonstrations target Bothans. But there are none at this spaceport. Why are the protesters here?


He decides to find out which ships are docked here, but is interrupted by Senator Porolo Miatamia of Diamala. He recognizes Lando who was spotted several streets back. They’ve been following him to confirm his identity.


He explains that his ship is docked there and the protestors disapprove of his government’s stance on the Bothan issue. Calrissian remembers that the Diamala want to forgive and forget. Miatamia explains it’s better than taking vengeance on innocents.


But they have made their point and he would like to board his ship and leave. He’s asked the spaceport authorities to remove the protestors but they have refused. He and his party were leaving the offices when they spotted Lando.


He hopes Calrissian can intercede on his behalf. Lando explains that he has little influence with the New Republic, except among a few select individuals, none of whom are on Cilpar. Further, his record as a war hero is not likely to help. He’s noticed how quickly people forget the past.


However, he does offer the senator and his aide a ride on his own ship. He will not charge them, but does hope they may be able to use Diamalan military ships to provide security for his ore mining shipments.

Disra notes Tierce’s expression and asks if he has a target. Tierce reveals that Senator Miatamia of Diamala has just hitched a ride with Lando Calrissian. They are headed to Coruscant and Tierce would like to get Flim on the Relentless before it intercepts Lady Luck. It will look better if it appears Thrawn was waiting for them.


Disra has already expressed his concerns as to how the New Republic may react to this, but Tierce reminds him he has to take some risks. Disra thinks this risk is unnecessary.


Further, Tierce sprung this on him after returning from Yaga Minor. He decides they might as well do it right.

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chapter 16:


Pellaeon greets General Hestiv at Yaga Minor and mentions some recent unrest. Hestiv brushes it off as minimal. Most of their population is loyal and tend to take care of the dissenters themselves. In fact, the government often has to protect the dissenters from loyal citizens which allows it to take the moral high ground.


Pellaeon thinks the Emperor could have taken a page out of that book. Hestiv agrees and wishes someone who wasn’t insane with power had overthrown him. There were hundreds of competent officers who could have kept the Empire alive.


Pellaeon knows there was at least one. But that’s in the past. He admits to Hestiv that they’ve lost the war and have to negotiate with the New Republic. Considering the current crisis, he’d bet they can keep most of what they have anyway. Hestiv warns him that it’s unrealistic to think that a civil war will erupt over Caamas. They should use their resources to encourage the unrest.


It’s a suggestion Pellaeon has heard again and again. He asks Hestive if they should empty their shipyards, drain all manpower and leave this system defenseless. And what happens if the New Republic finds out what they’ve been doing?


They will unite long enough to completely destroy the Empire. There’s no honor in wasting lives for nothing. The galaxy may be willing to accept the ideals of the New Order again when the New Republic finally does self-destruct.


Hestiv confirms the Moffs approve this. He will support Pellaeon which he assumes is what brought him here in the first place. Pellaeon does admit he needs some information. He’d like a list of names run through the computer system.


They are people he suspects of having shady ties to Moff Disra. He doesn’t trust the records that would be on Bastion. Hestiv assures him he can trust Yaga Minor. No one gets into these records without extensively confirmed authorization, something Major Tierce found out when he was here.


Pellaeon questions this. Hestiv explains Tierce was sent by Trazzen from the Obliterator but they couldn’t contact the ship so they wouldn’t let the major into the system. Pellaeon mentions that Tierce is not connected to the Obliterator; he is Moff Disra’s aide.


And Pellaeon is fairly certain that he got what he was looking for without anyone realizing it. They search for an hour to find nothing. Pellaeon wants to check the special files. Hestiv doesn’t believe a major would try to crack into the Emperor’s sealed records.


But it is a major working for the slippery Moff Disra. Pellaeon doesn’t know how to get into the files, unfortunately. And they’d have to figure out what he was doing here when he could have just gone to Bastion. Perhaps, he was going to alter something.


Whatever he wants with the Caamas Document, Pellaeon would very much like to know. He will be out of contact for awhile, but wants Hestiv to make some quiet inquiries.


It’s been three weeks since Vermel has vanished. Pellaeon doesn’t know if the officer ran afoul of pirates, the New Republic or even dissident Imperial forces, but he needs to know if the message has been delivered.


The only way to find out is to show up and see if Bel Iblis does, too.

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chapter 17:


At the Grand Rim Promenade on Cejansij, Luke and R2 encounter a New Republic Observer who takes the time to point out to Luke that the demonstration going on is just a peaceful memorial service for those victims of injustice. He hopes the New Republic realizes that there are many voices in this memorial, all of them with differing opinions.


He also suggests that Luke check in with the ThoughtsAreFreedom tapcafe where a great many interesting things can be learned. On the way, Luke and R2 debate the helpfulness of Talon Karrde whom Luke has been considering trying to contact.


He stops to help what appears to be an old woman with children being threatened by toughs, but Luke provides only a momentary distraction which is enough for the Noghri underneath the children’s robes to get rid of their would-be attackers. The old woman turns out to be Moranda Savich who works for Karrde.


Dankin tells Karrde that Savich is back from the successful data drop and has brought Luke Skywalker with her. Karrde tells Luke that he came hear to find out if any of the anti-Republic protests around the galaxy might be Imperial-sponsored. It’s an angle to check out anyway.


Faughn contacts him to tell him that Mara’s been captured. It’s possible she’s been injured. Luke admits he came out here following a vision of Mara. Karrde insists Luke has a responsibility to Mara, if not to the safety of the area with this unknown culture out there.


Karrde offers to bring Jade’s Fire to meet Luke off Duroon so that Luke will have room to bring Mara back. At least, he can fly the Fire in, hide it somewhere and take the X-Wing into the system.


Luke agrees to go, but does ask Karrde to let Leia know if he finds out if anything about the protests. He also wants her to know where he’s gone.


Karrde agrees to go personally. He does, however, ask what Luke’s vision of Mara was. Luke tells him he saw Mara in a rocky place, floating in water and looking dead.

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chapter 18:


Wede doesn’t get to finish his dessert when the alarm sounds on the Peregrine. He and the rest of Rogue Squadron are sent to the Sif’kric system after General Bel Iblis receives a panic call.


On the way, Bel Iblis advises them that a Frezhlix force is moving on the Sif’drie homeworld. They are only going in to assess the situation.


When they arrive, however, they run into a fleet made up of very old ships. There are a bunch of freighters nearby that seem to be prevented from leaving the system, but nothing that looks dangerous. Bel Iblis contacts the Frezhlix and demands to know their intentions. The response comes from Plarz who claims the New Republic has no concern here.


Corran thinks he knows what’s going on. A pommwomm plant grows on the inner planet. It’s useful for medicine and food. They have to be processed within 30 hours of picking or they are useless. That’s what the Frezhlix are doing here.


They are keeping the freighters that are here to pick up the shipments away from the planet. This will cost the Sif’kries a huge chunk of their annual gross product.


Bel Iblis tells Plarz there is no justification for this. Plarz responds that the Sif’krie government cast the deciding vote that preveneted the Frezhlix’s senator from adding his voice to the condemnation of Bothawui and its people.


He believes the vote was wrong and that allowing the Bothans to escape punishment will just encourage more atrocities in the future. They Sif’krie have to be persuaded to change their minds.


Unfortunately, this is an intrasystem conflict, not interstellar. Unless they get a request to move in officially, Rogue Squadron cannot do anything. Bel Iblis contacts Corran and asks if Booster has any financial interests in this sector, possibly legitimate shipping during the pommwomm processing. If he does, one of the freighters being prevented from leaving could be his.


Corran looks at the list and identifies two that could be Booster’s. Bel Iblis is aware of the family connection, but sternly reminds him that they will not tolerate smuggling. Wedge asks permission to check out the suspect ship.


As they move through the blockade, Plarz protests, but Bel Iblis explains that they are investigating a ship flying under false ID and have a legal obligation to investigate.


Wedge doesn’t find out what Plarz thinks they are planning. He warns them off the approach and, when they proceed anyway, the fleet opens fire. Wedge orders evasive maneuver while the Peregrine heads toward the blockade.


Plarz protests this incursion, but Bel Iblis reminds him that he opened fire on the starfighters. He demands they surrender. Plarz responds by firing back.


Admiral Ackbar later explains the Frezlix government has protested an unprovoked attack on their peaceful delegation. Bel Iblis explains that they were engaged in a violation of free economic movement and attacked first.


Ackbar brings up the smuggling issue. The Sif’kries have impounded Booster Terrik’s ship and are checking for contraband. The regulations don’t care whether or not contraband is actually found. Ackbar thinks the President will read Bel Iblis’s report before rendering judgment, but he does urge the patrol to be cut short.


Then the signal drops.


Bel Iblis is told the HoloNet carrier at Mengjini has gone down. A secondary net picks up a general alert stating the relay was attacked by what is described as dissident elements.


He orders course set for Mengjini and sends a request for backup.

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chapter 19:
Lando presents his hand in another game of sabacc against Senator Miatamia. The Senator has won five games in a row and wins this one, too.
The ship drops out of hyperspace early and Lando presumes a failure of the system, but finds instead an Imperial Star Destroyer facing them. The ship catches them in a tractor beam. Lando looks around and spots the Interdictor Cruiser that pulled them into real space.
But he sees that the cone of gravity waves isn’t even close to being centered here, so he powers up the backup proton torpedo launcher and fires. The torpedo is pulled in by the tractor beam and explodes. Free of the beam, he starts to move Lady Luck when the ship is grabbed again.
They are taken on board the ship and ushered into a room where Lando’s heart nearly stops. Grand Admiral Thrawn greets them. He is cagey about how he survived the assassination attempt and why the Imperial Command claimed he was dead.
When they are more interested in his survival than in what he has to say, he tells them they may leave and turns to the major to have the location of the Ishori Senator Dx’ono found. Miatamia explains they were stunned by his surprise appearance and do want to hear him out.
Thrawn claims he would like to help resolve the Bothan issue. While a search of the Imperial archives at Bastion is underway, the process is lengthy and it may take weeks to find the names of those involved. However, he believes he can go to Bothawui, speak to each of the clan leaders and learn from them who the guilty parties are. Senator Miatamia has a keen mind and is far less susceptible to maneuvering than Lando. His questions are pointed and designed to get answers.
Thrawn requests that his offer be communicated to the New Republic.
He dismisses them, but Lando demands to know if he can identify the one time Lando saw him from a distance. He evades the question again, but Senator Miatamia calls him on it once more. Thrawn states that Lando and Solo were on Myrkyr watching him meet with Talon Karrde.
They are escorted back to their ship and, thirty minutes later, watch the Star Destroyer and Interdictor jump to hyperspace. President Gavrisom will not like this at all.
Tierce reports to Disra that the meeting with perfectly, though Calrissian tried to trap Flim with a question. Fortunately, Flim had read a detailed report Tierce had written up about his time with Thrawn and knew the answer.
In the meantime, Tierce wants to stay in Rebellion-occupied space. He wants to activate some of the remaining sleeper cells, but mostly wants to see how Coruscant reacts to the news.
They argue over whether or not this plan is too risky, once again. Disra is convinced the New Republic will panic and send a huge fleet to take Bastion. Tierce thinks he’s setting the Empire back on the road to glory.
Disra realizes he’s let the Guardsman have too much leeway. It’s time to reel him back in, but he doesn’t know how to do that.
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  • The appearance of Calrissian and Solo on Myrkyr is such a small detail that Tierce would have had to have either been among the stormtroopers that landed on Myrkyr with Thrawn or been privy to very specific information regarding the visit. There’s no reason to believe the stormtroopers were made aware that Calrissian and Solo had been there and, if Thrawn never acknowledged Tierce’s former position as a Guardsman, there’s no reason to believe that Tierce would have access to more detailed information about the visit. This incident, of course, happened during Heir to the Empire.

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chapter 20:


The Grand Convocation Chamber turns cold after Miatamia finishes his report. Some senators aren’t concerned. The Empire is too small now to be a problem. The New Republic can gather its forces and move against it. Others remember what Grand Admiral Thrawn was capable of ten years ago.


President Gavrisom urges them all to consider the news without panicking or jumping to conclusions. He doesn’t want to take any action against Thrawn until he can determine how to respond to the offer. The Maerdocian Senator insists that Thrawn cannot be allowed to interrogate the Bothan clan leaders. Many don’t think it will end with the Bothans.


Gavirsom insists they will not allow him to speak with the Bothans, but he doesn’t think they should launch an attack against the Empire, especially with other unrest happening in the New Republic. There are accusations that the Empire is inciting the dissent anyway.


Senator Dx’ono wishes to speak. He reminds everyone that they only have Miatamia’s word that he faced Thrawn and that his testimony to that effect ended with him urging the Bothans be left unpunished so the New Republic can focus on this new threat.


He opposes the idea that the senator’s statements should be used to further his own political agenda and he does not consider General Calrissian an independent witness when he was trying to recruit Diamalan military support for his mining operation.


Leia interjects that she is certain Lando’s statements are truthful and vouches personally for his character.


Dx’ono suggests that, if someone was met with aboard the Star Destroyer, it might not necessarily have been Thrawn. If not the Empire, someone else may be trying to manipulate events. After all, there are many Star Destroyers in New Republic space. It’s not so difficult to believe that someone could have a ship and put an imposter aboard it.


Fey’lya reminds him that Grand Admiral Thrawn was known for being able to manipulate his enemies.


Lando also points out that the person he saw knew about his visit to Myrkr years ago. Only Thrawn and his stormtroopers would have known about that. Dx’ono adds that General Solo and Talon Karrde were there, too. Talon Karrde has never claimed loyalty to the New Republic. He is a profiteer whose only link to this government has been to people like Lando or to Councilor Organa Solo. He asks her how she stands on the Bothan issue.


Gavrisom is adamant that they are not going to turn this issue into another Caamas argument and ends that debate quickly. Leia knows the damage has been done already.Gavrisom calls Admiral Drayson to advise him on the overall military situation.


Leia gets a light on her comm. frequency which only her family and closest aides have and were only supposed to use in an emergency. She vows to ground Anakin if he is calling to ask to open a new package of cookies.


Instead, she finds herself speaking to Talon Karrde. He has a message he must deliver personally to her but he’s not being allowed to land. He took the bureaucratic ID number off the plate, though, and identifies the the troublemaker as an Ishori.


Leia tells him that the Ishori senator just finished accusing him and Lando of conspiring with the Diamala regarding the Bothan issue. He apologizes, realizing he’s come at a politically inexpedient time. She tells him that he’s to tell the line director that she’s giving Wild Karrde permission to land and she will transmit the order as soon as the call ends.


On Pakrik Minor, Carib Devist is approached by his brother, Sabmin who tells him that a legimate message carrying all proper Imperial codes has been received. It was under the name of Grand Admiral Thrawn.


This could be a trick, but not something that could be kept up for long. This changes everything. If Thrawn is back, the Empire may win this war. Carib wants to meet with the rest of their cell tonight.

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  • At one point, it’s stated that the Empire has 100 Star Destroyers left. Pellaeon, at the beginning of the book, is reminded that they have 200 left. I know it’s a difference of only a hundred, but the New Republic thinking that the Empire only has half of what they actually do is not a good thing!

  • Why is Gavrisom still in charge anyway? I know he stepped in while Leia took a leave of absence, but she’s been on Coruscant ever since returning from Wayland and doesn’t seem to be vacationing anymore. For example, she is here in the Senate building for the report. Why doesn’t she just end her leave and let Gavrisom go back to doing whatever it is he does normally?

  • Isn’t Drayson head of that Alpha Blue organization we read about in the Black Fleet Crisis? Did he get put back into the general military then? Why is he giving a report on military readiness?

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chapter 21:
Han warns Leia that if word gets out that they’re having a secret meeting, the political fallout will be great. They meet Karrde at their apartment retreat in Orowood Tower which had been meant as a home away from home for Alderaanian expatriates.
After the original attacks by Thrawn on Coruscant, many of the survivors had moved either to New Alderaan or to other worlds, lucky enough to have lived when their world was destroyed and not wanting to live on a tempting target again.
They meet with Lando and Karrde inside. The children are with Chewbacca who has taken them to Kashyyyk for now.
Shada tries to contact Councilor Organa Solo’s residence but is denied, even after name-dropping Admiral Drayson of New Repubic Intelligence. She’s tried the Palace, the main residence and now the retreat.
It’s time to do this another way. She ends up on the roof of Orowood Tower and drunkenly cries about ending it all which distracts the Noghri on guard. After she knocks him out, she gets to work.
Lando insists he’s been over everything they have in the archives. The man he saw looked and sounded like Thrawn. Han points out it could still be a trick.
Facial surgery combined with changes in the skin, hair and eye color. Voices can be faked, too. Karrde suggests a human replica droid like the one Xizor had. Lando says that the tell-tale signs of facial surgery weren’t there and, while voices can be faked, this man had a presence that no droid would have.
Karrde considers that it could be a clone. Thrawn could have removed one of the cloning tanks from Mount Tantiss. Leia notes that it could explain where the clones Luke sensed at Iphigin came from. Lando wonders if they could turn this around and say that it was a clone of Thrawn killed at Bilbringi.
Karrde doesn’t think Thrawn would have allowed the Empire to collapse the way it has. At best, Thrawn had to have been incapacitated all this time. So why reveal himself to Lando and Senator Miatamia? Leia believes it was to send the New Republic into a panic and deepen the tensions mounting over the Caamas controversy.
Lando thinks there are easier ways to do that. If he’s not foolish enough to take on the New Republic militarily, he might have found a new superweapon. Karrde thinks they would have found anything else like that by now. Leia mentions that getting the New Republic unified enough to beat him might be a challenge now.
Lando admits they never realized that only a small portion of the Empire’s resources had been dedicated to fighting the Rebel Alliance. A lot of it was expended keeping these planetary vendettas from getting out of control. Now the New Republic has that job.
He thinks their next move is to end this Bothan issue once and for all. To do that, they need to find who the guilty Bothans were. Karrde points out that the only complete Imperial records are located at Yaga Minor and on the Imperial capital world code-named Bastion. He does not know where the latter is.
Lando wasn’t thinking of the Imperials, though. Karrde answers that he doesn’t have them. Lando knows that, but wonders if someone else does. The two men decide to speak privately. Leia sends them to the boys’ bedroom.
Shada gets into the Solos’ apartment in the retreat, hears several voices and then footsteps headed her way. She rolls over the child’s bed and onto the floor between the bed and the wall.
Lando Calrissian and Talon Karrde enter the room and begin arguing. Karrde accuses Lando of nearly breaking a confidence. Lando reminds him who they may be dealing with and he has more important thinks to worry about now. They need to get the Caamas issue resolved and Jorj Car’das may be able to help.
Karrde warns Lando that Car’das could be as ruthless as Jabba sometimes. Lando recalls that Karrde had asked him and Mara to track him down anyway. Karrde counters that he didn’t ask either of them to do anything. He’d offered to buy the beckon call from him. Lando reminds him that he was the one who’d tried to brush it off as a pre-Clone Wars relic when Lando knew otherwise. He and Mara did find Car’das, however, and returned unscathed.
Karrde knows they only got as far as the star system in question. Asking him to go walking into Car’das’s base is something else. Lando reminds him what will happen when Thrawn finds Car’das himself. The man may thank Karrde for the warning.
Karrde muses that Car’das never thanked anyone for anything in his life. Calrissian decides he will take General Bel Iblis with him then. Karrde warns him that Car’das will just hide or blow up whatever capital ship they decide to take.
He finally decides that he will accompany Lando.
They leave the room and Shada breathes a sigh of relief. She gets up and follows them out of the room.
While Han and Leia bicker over whether it’s ethical to use her Jedi powers to find out what they are talking about, a Noghri appears to tell them the sentry on the roof is not responding. There’s a team on the way, but they must assume an intruder is trying to break in.
Lando and Karrde appear at that moment and a voice behind them reveals a woman who tells everyone not to bother to search for one. She’s it.
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  • I know there had been a New Alderaan movement in previous books. Did they finally find a planet?
  • This chapter says Drayson is with New Republic Intelligence which is exactly what he was doing in the Black Fleet Crisis. But then why is reporting on the military’s readiness?
  • We met Jorj Car’das in Outbound Flight where he encountered Thrawn and became a friend of his. In fact, in Choices of One, Thrawn mentioned that Car’das was the only one he could trust. Car’das operated a smuggling and information gathering organization that he used to help the Empire. He turned the organization over to Karrde around the time of Choices of One because he was dying. But Car’das never seemed the ruthless type to me. Karrde makes him sound mercurial and violent.
  • I see the Solo kids have separate rooms in this home. In the Corellian Trilogy, which was about a year ago, it was said that separate rooms had been tried but didn’t work out well, so they all shared one big room. It appears that the boys have been separated from Jaina at least. Perhaps, since the twins are now ten-years old, it was felt that gender separation was required.

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chapter 22:
Calrissian jumps and gets his hand tangled in his cloak as he reaches for his blaster. The Noghri is fastest at drawing his weapon, followed by Solo. Karrde moves quickly to the side to get out of the line of fire. Leia Organa Solo doesn’t move at all.
No one fires, so Leia asks who she is. Shada introduces herself and assures her she’s not here to hurt anyone. She explains she’d tried to contact Leia but no one would put her through. A message would have been ignored. She tries not to be bitter that the New Republic is supposed to be a friend of the common people, yet it’s obvious that only someone with power or wealth can speak with a High Councilor.
She wants to join them, nevertheless. She has a number of skills that can be useful. Karrde confirms she used to be Mazzic’s chief bodyguard. Shada admits she was forced to resign. She knows from the conversation she overheard that Thrawn may be back and that a copy of the Caamas Document may help. She wants to be the one to supply it.
Karrde can vouch for her and so can they. She and her partner were part of the Hammertong operation that got a technical readout for a prototype component for the second Death Star’s superlaser.
Solo knows the story is true, with a few small differences that don’t make her look entirely altruistic. Lando suggests she go with Karrde. The smuggler explains there may be a copy of the Caamas Document not in Imperial hands. He’s going to see if that’s true.
Shada really doesn’t want to join another smuggling organization but it appears the New Republic doesn’t really want her. Lando tells her Karrde gets all his best people this way and to ask how Mara got hired.
Karrde admits Mara won’t be with them. In fact, the other thing he needed to tell Leia is that Mara has had a type of accident. They are unsure of the details but the Starry Ice tracked a ship similar to the one Luke had seen in the Kuaron system. She tracked it to a small world in the Gradilis sector, flew in for a closer look, got into a cave where she had a one-sided conversation with someone or something, mentioned Luke’s name and then went silent. She’s not dead. They can hear breathing on the recording.
Luke has gone off to find her.
Han and Leia are upset that Luke is the one to rescue a member of Karrde’s operation. He is needed here. With all of the fires erupting, they have no one left at the New Republic diplomatic corps or the Jedi Academy to act as mediators.
Karrde points out that Luke did this on his own. He’d be happy to fill in for Luke by going on this mission. He’d hoped they’d be more understanding.
Leia offers C-3PO’s use as a translator which he accepts. She also mentions that a datacard found on the Devaronian at Wayland also carried the label, “The Hand of Thrawn”. Karrde already knows this, of course.
He does add that the unknown ship Mara tracked sent a message directed at the Errant Venture that mentioned Thrawn’s full name. He’ll provide them a copy of the recording along with their records of the unknown ships.
On the way to the ship, Shada wonders if Thrawn is a clone. If so, is he as brilliant as the original? If they have one clone, why not 50? Or why not have a hundred clones of Jorus C’baoth instead? Karrde doesn’t have the answers to these questions.
She asks what his relationship to Car’das is. He tells her to ask him on the way into the Exocron system. When he asks why she left Mazzic, she tells him to ask her on the way out of the Exocron system.
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  • I suppose Luke’s vision of his students leaving the academy empty is explained here. They have been culled for use as mediators.
  • Leia’s repeatedly called Councilor or High Councilor here. Is she or is she not still Chief of State? I know that President has been used interchangeably with Chief of State over the past several books and I frankly found it confusing. But Gavtrisom has taken over Presidential duties while Leia is on her leave of absence. Yet, as I’ve pointed out, she doesn’t seem to be doing much leaving or absencing. It’s still weird that she’s not being address as the Chief of State, though.
  • Of course, Shada refers to the Hammertong operation from the Tales of the Mos Eisley Cantina compilation.

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chapter 23:
Wedge’s sleep, rather than his dessert, is interrupted this time. He jerks up inside his X-Wing, like the others, because of Bel Iblis’s hunch that they would be needed.
A panic call has come in from Bothawui. There is a Leresen attack force on the way. Grumbling about the Bothans commences, including the point that Rogue Squadron just happens to be very close by when this emergency erupts. Wedge thinks that’s a bit too convenient.
He asks for the original order that brought them to this system in the first place. It seems that the government of Di’tai’ni specifically asked for mediation by General Bel Iblis regarding a dispute with non-native workers.
Corran asks if the Di’tai’ni government has a financial connection to the Bothans government. It’s possible they were asked here in order to keep them close to Bothawui. Wedge reminds them that the reason is irrelevant right now, they have to defend a member of the New Republic.
He contacts the Leresen battle group and demands to know the reason for their approach. He is told that the Bothans have refused to resolve the deaths of two Leresai at their hands. Wedge is told that a records check confirms that two Leresai were killed in the riot in front of the Combined Clans Building.
Lersen law requires the life of the guilty or ten innocent lives in his place. Since two were killed, the law demands twenty innocent. Wedge tells the Leresai commander that he cannot allow him to kill innocent people.
He orders the S-foils locked into attack position, but Corran tells him to stop. He’s got a sense of danger about that. He’s running a diagnostic now. Wedge moves alongside Corran’s fighter and asks him to look for anything that shouldn’t be there. Corran already sees a small cylinder running between the S-foils. He has one on his ship, too.
It’s likely all of the fighters have them. There are two Leresai in the Di’tai’ni maintenance crew. Rogue Squadron can’t do a thing as the Leresai already know.
The battle group hits a small space station above Bothawui before the Peregine arrives.
Han thinks Gavrisom should bring the Leresai up on charges. Leia tells him three of the High Councilors will vote against the measure because the government hasn’t done anything to the Bothan government. Han insists it’s not the same thing. The Leresai killed innocent people. Leia reminds him they didn’t demand the Bothan government punish the guards who fired on the rioters.
He warns her that this will get out of hand if they don’t act now. She tells him it already has. A dozen governments are presenting their own demands to the Bothans. The Mon Calamari and the Diamala are sending capital ships to defend Bothawui.
The Leresai admitted tampering with the X-Wings and were proud of it. Of course, Bel Iblis wasn’t happy that the Bothans had arranged the posting so close to their system. It’s just a sign they are getting desperate.
Han doesn’t understand why this is happening when they’ve got the bigger problem in Thrawn. Leia elaborates that half of them don’t believe Thrawn is really back and the other half think that he’s not a threat anymore.
The Caamasi don’t want any of this to be happening but they can’t stop it. This isn’t about them anymore. The dissident groups are just using justice for Caamas as an excuse to start fighting again.
The only thing they can do is find the names of the actual Bothans and put them on trial.
Han has put out word that he wants to speak to Mazzic to find out if Shada really worked for him and why she left.
So now that she’s related the events of her day, she asks about his. He says he’s been thinking they should get away. There’s a sector conference at Pakrik Major that a New Republic official should attend. The beautiful part is that there is nothing going on out there. They can attend some boring meetings and then relax.
He’s already arranged the trip with Gavrisom who acted as though he’d very much like the two of them to drop out of sight for awhile. This won’t be like Bothawui. There won’t be riots or anyone shooting at them.
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  • If the reason for their posting here is not important right now, why did Wedge look into their orders right now?

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chapter 24:
The Pesitiin system is deserted. Captain Ardiff thinks Pellaeon’s offer has been rejected. The admiral thinks that it’s possible Bel Iblis is still trying to work things out with the government first.
Ardiff points out that Bel Iblis may be a man of honor, but he was also an ambitious man who is now lost in a sea of generals. There is still the matter of the missing Colonel Vermel. Ardiff thinks that Bel Iblis has him locked up somewhere.
Pellaeon would like to give the general a few days to show up. He is then told that eight incoming ships are approaching. Four are Corellian gunships. Their IDs don’t match anything in the registry. Pellaeon points out that smugglers and pirates use ID overlays.
When the ships move into attack formation, Pellaeon orders the ship prepared for battle, including a tractor beam. He wants a ship or, at least, debris, pulled in. He is particularly disturbed when the ships are identified as Corellian Defense Force ships. This isn’t at all what he knows of General Bel Iblis. A sneaky, cowardly attack is not the man’s way. Even in his battle with Thrawn, the general had maintained a sense of honor.
In fact, Pellaeon decides there’s a way to find out if Bel Iblis is commanding those ships.
When the ships head straight for the bridge and then pull up, Pellaeon orders return fire with turbolasers only. Ardiff doesn’t get it and Pellaeon understands. He had once been standing on this same bridge, trying to convince a superior that his assessment of a battle situation was the right one.
When the ships come at them crossways, Pellaeon orders the ship to fire. Then he orders one Preybird squadron out at the third approach. He wants them hold tight parade formation until ordered otherwise.
Then he orders five sprays of proton torpedoes on the same mark as the Preybirds. He orders the Preybirds to perform a maneuver that pulls them out in a flower formation away from the ship while the turbolasers of the battleship tracks them. The torpedoes fly into the battlecruiser and reduce it to rubble. The other ships run.
He has a team sent to retrieve wreckage, but he knows that General Bel Iblis was not in command. He tells Ardiff to run a record of the battle through the Predictor. This is why he allowed a second approach. Pellaeon thinks the Predictor might be useful in reverse. They can determine the identity of their enemy by the tactics.
He explains that he was at the battle where General Bel Iblis invented the tactic he just now used against their attackers. Bel Iblis would not have been fooled by it. Someone has worked very hard to make them think he was behind this.
It could be elements in the Empire or the New Republic who don’t want peace. It appears the attack was meant to drive him away before Bel Iblis could arrive. This means they stay. Ardiff warns that their unseen enemy may try to attack again. Pellaeon answers that he can try.
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End of Book 1

 

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