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"Vision of the Future"

Jedi Cool

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chapter 25:
The Errant Venture is chaotic with techs all over the place, adding the upgrades. Bel Iblis receives reports on which ships have checked in while Booster Terrik asks when his ship will be ready.
He also wants to know the details of this plan. Bel Iblis wants the task force to follow the Venture in toward Yaga Minor where they will hole up the planetary defenses while the Venture blasts a hole in a walkway leading to a remote access computer system intended for high-level civilian visitors.
If that doesn’t work, they’ll have to hold off the Imperial forces long enough for a slicer to pull a copy of the Document and transmit it to one of the ships. Terrik thinks this is the worst idea he’s ever heard. He’s also not happy to learn that Bel Iblis is going to stay on the Errant Venture despite assuring Booster he would still be in command.
He also points out that a walkway to an outrider remote computer system that is only used by civilians might have civilians in it when they blow a hole in it. If that happens, anyone in there will die. Bel Iblis knows this.
In the exotic pet shop on Bothawui, Navett is working on the the timetable for their work when customers come into the shop. Two men look vaguely familiar, then an old woman shows up asking for a specific animal that Navett knows nothing about.
His partner, Klif, makes a few suggestions, then, while the men he thinks may be New Republic agents ask about various animals, he gets a call from Bothan official having a pest problem that he hasn’t been able to get rid of.
They are the metalmites that Navett’s team had inserted into the tech workers’ clothing before they entered the shield generator. They are obviously doing their job. He makes arrangements to be picked up shortly to help eliminate the problem and the New Rep agents take off. He has more important things to worry about than them.
On Yaga Minor, General Hestiv takes Ghent down a long corridor to a small station where no one ever goes. He can work here. His temporary quarters are here, but Hestiv does suggest he change the coding on the lock so no one can walk in on him.
Ghent sits down in front of this top-notch equipment and begins to work.
The Imperial commando team is led right into the center of the shield generator to take care of the pest problem. They spray around the delicate equipment and give the Field Controller some advice on taking care of the rest of the problem before leaving.
They solution they left should be alright. But they’ll have to dig down to the power conduit and cut through it. They’ve also got to take care of the New Republic agents that Klif finally places. One of them is Wedge Antilles. That is going to be problematic as killing a galaxy-wide celebrity will get noticed, but Antilles was in there when the call came in so he knows they were asked to come to the generator. Their shop will be under scrutiny now, so they will have to kill him.
Corran, Wedge and Moranda go over their day and eliminate businesses that were suspicious. They settle on the pet shop where a call came in to eliminate very exotic metalmites at a very sensitive location. The decision to allow them to come was apparently made high up. That is probably the shield generator building.
Wedge’s comlink beeps. It’s Bel Iblis giving them a code to come back. He tells Moranda they have to leave so the Bothans are on their own. He suggests she give Bothan security a call about the pet shop.
Corran wants to know what she’s going to do first. She admits that security won’t be much help as they have no proof. The Bothans probably did a full security check on the proprieters first and still let them into the building.
Her assignment from Karrde is to stay here and watch for a possible attack by Vengeance. It can’t possibly be more dangerous than where they’re headed.
  • Remember in Zahn’s Heir to the Empire when Wedge was posing as a backup man that Han’s old colleague spotted right away. It was mentioned then that Wedge is not someone inconspicuous and the Rogue Squadron books also pointed out that Wedge’s face is fairly well known. Why he was sent here as an Intelligence agent is beyond me. He obviously didn’t do a good job of not being noticed at the generator and now he’s been recognized by an Imperial commando team.

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chapter 26:

Mara comes out of her healing trance and feels a little better. She’s been out for five days. Keeper of Promises went back to Mara’s ship for the rest of the survival gear and have brought a bird of some type to cook for her supper.

They seem to think she saved their lives up there and Luke isn’t sure she didn’t. He’s been going over the firefight and thinks they were firing at the Qom Jha. After all, the Threateners never came into the cave to look for her after she got knocked out.

They may have been waiting for her to come up into the High Tower or they just lost interest in her.

Mara thinks they wanted her to come here. It doesn’t explain why they tried to shoot Luke down though. Luke gets the feeling they want to see her specifically. He’s also had time to think the last few days and thinks he knows why she didn’t turn to the Dark Side and why there seem to be limits to her abilities with the Force.

She was serving Palpatine, but wasn’t doing it out of selfish ambition. Since the essence of the Dark Side is selfishness, that explains why she never truly fell. And, of course, serving is the essence of being a Jedi.

Mara thinks he’s saying that serving evil with good motivations isn’t wrong. She doesn’t agree. Luke doesn’t either. He knows some of the things she did were wrong but she wasn’t doing them for herself. He compares her to the Jensaarai that he and Corran found on Susevfi. They were serving the Force the best way they knew how, even though they didn’t know how to be Jedi.

She reminds him that he spent years untwisting them. Besides, they had a role model in that Nikkos Tyris. Luke wonders if she had one, too, such as a parent or close friend. She assures him there wasn’t anyone in the Inner Court like that.

He offers to perform a Jedi technique to restore buried memories. She can be a powerful Jedi if she chooses to be one. Mara cannot bring herself to serve the whole galaxy. It’s one thing to offer her loyalty to one person, but not to anyone who shows up wanting help.

Besides, being a Jedi involves a large sacrifice of some kind. She isn’t ready for that, either. Luke warns her that she is limiting her abilities by not making a commitment. Mara argues that he is a fine one to talk about commitment considering the number of women he’s encountered over the years and hasn’t taken the plunge.

Luke gets angry and snaps back about her and Lando. He calms down and apologies. She does, too, because she knows what happened to Gaeriel Captison and Callista. She offers that there really was nothing going on between her and Lando.

Karrde had an assignment for her and Lando invited himself along because the mission had started with him. They kept up an appearance of a personal relationship so it would throw off people who wondered what they were doing. Luke tells her she could have told him. She reminds him he never asked and never seemed interested.

The whole thing started with the beckon call he’d found on Dagobah. It used to belong to an associate of Karrde’s named Jorj Car’das. They were trying to find him. It took a long time before they finally figured out where he was, but the romance angle was irritating. Doubtless, Lando was very interested, but she wasn’t.

In fact, Solo called once when she was in her role and she can’t imagine what he thought of that.

They decide to start their climb. Luke had thought it would be hard, but it isn’t because the barrier between himself and Mara is gone. He’d never realized there was one there. They’d been able to sense each others’ thoughts and emotions well enough that he’d assumed their connection was as strong as it could be. He’s realized how wrong he was.

Now those same thoughts and emotions flow over his in a way that is only limited by her personal barriers. When they reach the door, Luke says they’ll leave R2 and the Qom Jha in here while they search on their own. She suggests leaving one of their comlinks here.

They enter a section of the fortress that looks just like the Hijarna one. The stone absorbs turbolaser fire. They follow the rooftop to spot guardhouses and a landing pad.

Mara finds a tower with weapons emplacements on it. This must have been impressive when first built. Clearly, this was protecting something important. They find another spiral slideway and Mara heads into it first. She finds a huge galactic holo of the galaxy that mirrors the one they saw in the Mount Tantiss throne room.

Much of the equipment in this control room comes straight from a Star Destroyer. Mara points back to the map which has a huge new area colored in where the Unknown Regions should be. Mara picks up from here and explains that Grand Admiral Thrawn was exiled from the Imperial Court.

He’d picked the wrong side in one of the endless political battles going on. Everyone else who lost was demoted, imprisoned or sent to some worthless outpost in the Outer Rim. But Thrawn, the alien who’d been given special status, was deemed unworthy of even that so they sent him to the Unknown Regions.

It would have been the height of humiliation for a gifted strategist like Thrawn to be sent on a mapping expedition out in the middle of nowhere. But he and Palpatine were always well ahead of everyone else. She suspects that they plotted this together. Palpatine probably fed him men and ships to get this type of mapping finished.

Luke worries that the Unknown Regions are now considered Imperial territory. She doesn’t see why not. There have to at least be Imperial garrisonsall over the place with listening posts and shipyards to boot. He probably formed alliances with the natives, too.

Luke points out that the Empire is down to nothing. Why wouldn’t they use the Unknown Regions if it belongs to them? Mara says they don’t know that it does.

She thinks she should go down and talk to them. Luke can’t go because they shot at him on the way in, but not her. He’s already got the feeling they want to see her and, if she goes alone, he can be in a position to save her if needed. They don’t know the extent of her ability in the Force, too. She may have an edge.

He watches her head down and be met by the others who take her weapon and lead her into the barracks area. Abruptly, her connection to his mind cuts off.


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chapter 27:

Mara is met by blue-skinned aliens in Imperial uniforms. An old man approaches her wearing an admiral’s uniform. He greets her, knowing who she is. He invites her to sit down and she feels Luke’s presence vanish from her mind.

He is Admiral Voss Parck. She remembers he was the Star Destroyer captain who’d brought Thrawn back from the deserted world in the first place and, apparently, joined him in exile.

He explains that the story begins a little over half a century ago when Outbound Flight was sent on the first leg of its journey and eneded up in the Unknown Regions in territory controlled by the Chiss.

The ruling Chiss families never had the opportunity to decide how to handle this arrival. Palpatine wanted to use Outbound Flight as a way to get rid of several Jedi at once and sent an assault force to meet them.

They were setting up the ambush when Thrawn arrived. Though outnumbered and less armed, Thrawn’s expeditionary force slaughtered the Republic assault ships, leaving one intact so he could interrogate the survivors. One of them was a man named Kinman Doriana who served as one of Palpatine’s advisors.

Mara does remember that name.

Few people did or knew his position, but his untimely death left a gap that some people feel that Palpatine tried to fill with others, such as Vader, Thrawn and Mara herself. This area became Thrawn’s personal base and the computer systems she found are probably the most extensive in the galaxy.

Doriana explained to Thrawn what was going on and convinced him that Outbound Flight had to be destroyed. So, Thrawn was waiting when the ship arrived in Chiss space. Unfortunately for Thrawn, Chiss military philosophy does not recognize preemptive strikes to be morally acceptable. They considered his actions murder.

They kept a close eye on him after that. When he dealt with some of the Chiss enemies in ways they did not approve, they eventually brought him up on charges and sent him into exile on an uninhabited planet at the edge of Imperial space.

Palpatine had tried at least twice to contact the Chiss over the years and offer Thrawn a position, but had failed. He was very happy when Parck found him and brought him to Coruscant.

He arranged to come back here to protect his people. In the New Republic and, even perhaps, the Empire, planets are protected by rings of warships. In the Unknown Regions, there are a hundred different threats that the ruling families of the Chiss can do nothing about. Parck is part of Thrawn’s Household Phalanx, dedicated to serving only him and serving the Chiss.

They know the forces of the Empire are out here and pretend not to know that there are Chiss working with them, but the average Chiss does know. A steady stream of young Chiss, such as his lieutenant, Stent, come to join them regularly.

Thrawn had told them that, should he ever be reported dead, they should continue their work until he returned ten years later. Mara insists that isn’t going to happen as Thrawn was killed. Parck reminds her that she heard nothing that didn’t come from an Imperial news source and she probably never saw a body either.

They have been searching for her which is why they appeared at the Cavrilhu base and the Star Destroyer. It was thought she and Thrawn had already made contact so the pilot of the ship sent a message with Thrawn’s name in it.

She insists that Thrawn is dead. Parck points out there are rumors of his return, including sightings by the Diamalian Senator and by Lando Calrissian. An officer with an eye patch arrives to report that there are rumors that Thrawn is currently on Bastion. Parck explains that Thrawn suspected the government seat might be moved so he put a homing device in a dummy file in the Imperial library, reasoning that, where the government goes, the library goes, too.

He introduces the officer to Mara as Baron Soontir Fel.

She can still sense the Force but cannot touch any of their minds, as if a Force-suppressing technique has been utilized. She realizes there must be ysalamiri in the next room to keep her from probing their minds.

This means that her link to Luke has only been cut off. He’s still alive.

They realize she knows this, but want her to join them. She says she already has a job. Stent reports that someone tried to access the Command Room computer, they know it must be Skywalker.

She turns to Fel and asks about his patch. He says he injured his eye in a fight with one of many warlords out here. He preferred to let other pilots have needed operations first. She thinks he can just go to Bastion and get a prosthetic, but he’d have to trust them with this big secret.

Parck tells her everything they’ve done here is for Thrawn. They don’t know what side he would favor. The Empire has dwindled down to virtually nothing and there’s always the anti-alien bias that tends to rear its ugly head now and then. On the other hand, the New Republic can never seem to keep its members from fighting each other.

Mara is in a unique position to be familiar with both the Empire and the New Republic regime on Coruscant. Her job with Karrde’s organization gives her access to a lot more information. That’s why she’s important to them. They are out of touch with much of the galaxy.

In fact, Thrawn would have given her a position himself. There is a brief interruption that leads Mara to believe Luke is harder to pin down than they thought before the conversation goes back to Thrawn. Parck claims that Fel is the prime example of Thrawn’s ability to use skilled people. He didn’t care about Fel’s rebelling against Isard. He was involved in the recapture of the general and brought him here. Fel explains that he was shown what they were facing here and that the combined resources of the Empire and New Republic might not be enough.

That’s why he left sleeper cells of clones scattered around to form a resistance group of the two governments fell. Men who loved their homes and their lands will fight for them more than a set of ideology.

So Fel joined up with them.

Parck will have to find out if Thrawn is on Bastion so he is going to make a trip there. Mara fears he will turn this all over to the Empire which will misuse it. She doesn’t think he can stop that from happening and reminds him what the Imperial Court was like.

Fearing that Mara will try to stop him, he decides to hold her and Skywalker here for the time being. Fel decides to have her shot with a Chiss charric. It will cause pain and force her into a healing trance. That will take long enough for them to find out the answers.

She tries everything to discourage them, pointing out that she won’t be more amenable to helping them and neither will Karrde. She finally has to admit she doesn’t know how to do the healing trance. Skywalker was the one who helped her with her shoulder. Since he’s not here, she could die. Fel thinks it’s an added incentive to get Skywalker to surrender to them. Besides, she will realize the importance of helping them when she sees what they are facing.


  • Outbound Flight was about 47 years ago which is close to half a century. Good job on rounding up the timeline correctly!

  • Kinman Doriana hasn’t had as many references as some of Palpatine’s other assistants, such as Sly Moore and Armand Isard. Doriana was introduced in Cloak of Deception publication-wise, was mentioned in Darth Plagueis, chronologically first, but wasn’t fleshed out as a character until Outbound Flight where he served as an intermediary between Darth Sidious and Thrawn. The general story is correct in that Thrawn wiped out the task force sent to destroy the Flight and, in turn, destroyed the Flight itself after being confronted with Jedi Master Jorus C’baoth’s intractability. There are a few points here. One is that we never saw Doriana again or read mention of him. This untimely death Parck refers to has never been detailed. Second is that both Thrawn and Sidious were aware of a major threat brewing in the Unknown Regions that Sidious did not feel the Republic was strong enough to face. He hoped to establish a strong government capable of defending themselves against it. We have gotten hints of such a threat here and there. It is possible that Parck and Fel are referring to it when they try to recruit Mara. Finally, there is no evidence that Doriana was Force-sensitive so the idea that Palpatine would replace him with Vader or Mara is foolish. Vader was a Sith apprentice, something Doriana could never be. Mara was a Force-sensitive agent, again, outside his capability. Thrawn was a master tactician. While Doriana was likely very valuable to Palpatine, it’s unlikely that Thrawn was a type of replacement. If anything Palpatine’s lackeys were either disposable, such as the Separatist leaders, or kept doing his bidding behind the scenes. I would imagine that few people in his circle knew his identity as a Sith Lord and he probably kept it that way. Isard or Moore or someone else likely filled in for Doriana after his mysterious death.

  • So the ysalamiri are in another room and can cut off Mara’s connection to Luke because of the walls separating them but cannot cut off her access to the Force? This really isn’t something we’ve read of the ysalamari influence in the past. I suppose it makes sense that proximity can have an affect on how the much the Force can be accessed.

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chapter 28:

Luke struggles with the notion that another person he cares for could be dead. He gets angry and has to calm himself. He reaches out through the Force and senses the blockage. He realizes there are ysalamiri between the two of them. That’s all. He will have to help Mara out.

Cutting through the floor of the fortress and gets inside. Artoo jacks into a system to find a floor plan, but all he does is alert the aliens to their whereabouts. He tells the Qom Jha to split up and cause distractions if the alarm goes up. He wants Child of Winds to stay with him and Artoo.

He heads into an unmarked door and finds the racks of ysalamiri against the wall. She must be in the next room. He starts moving the racks away from the wall. Artoo warns him and he finds one of the aliens in the doorway. Child of Winds flies down and grips the gun arm. The weapon fires and Luke dives backward, briefly sensing Mara’s presence again. Back into the ysalmiri’s bubble, he finds himself. He ignites his lightaber and heads through the frames, hoping to get outside the Force bubble before the alien can fire again.

Luke brings his handle down on the gunman and knocks him out. He tells Child of Winds that killing him was not necessary. Against the wall, he moves the rest of the frames away, then hears Mara telling them that he had been the one to put her in a healing trance. She cannot heal herself. When a voice points out that danger to her could compel Luke to surrender, he slashes his lightsaber through the wall and an alien waiting to shoot her.

He and Mara start to fight them off when Parck calls for a halt. He doesn’t see a point in wasting lives. If they want to go, they can. He does hope she’ll consider his offer.


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chapter 29:
They head out of the room and she asks where they go now. It’s almost certain Parck and the Chiss have something planned. R2 begins to lead and they decide to follow him.
Sure enough, weapons are aimed at them along the way. Mara finds the stun setting works for them but not at a long-range. She tells him their plan is to hold the two of them until they can get back from Bastion where they help to confirm that Thrawn has returned. They were going to put her in a healing trance to keep her occupied during that time.
Parck insists he’s not turning this operation over to the Empire, but Mara and Luke know that will probably happen regardless of his intent. Luke can sense a blank area ahead where there are ysalamiri and tells them it’s a trap.
Chiss appear and open fire. Mara fires at the ysalamiri on their backs. Child of Winds screeches a warning and more troops come up behind the first line of Chiss. Frustrated, Mara abandons her attempts to avoid killing and reaches out with the Force.
A group of Qom Jha sweeps forward into the middle of the battle. Luke tells her they need to go now. He opens a door and reveals a hangar where several ships are parked. They fire back at more pursuers before he shuts the door.
He senses something dark, like a secret, in her. He holds the door while she searches for a ship. He finally disables several of the vessels before Mara warns him there are more Chiss coming.
They jump into a ship and take off. Overhead, Mara points out the fortress. The configuration looks just like a hand. The fortress is the Hand of Thrawn.
They wait on the edge of forest. Luke thinks they’ll have to find a way back into the fortress to stop what they’re doing. Mara isn’t sure they should. Something convinced Fel to return to the Empire. He said there are threats out here that are dangerous. The New Republic should be able to take care of a significant threat, but Fel should know what they have available and he’s still out here.
The fact that they aren’t fighting the New Republic says they’ve got more important targets. But, if Parck opens contact with Bastion, they will not care about unseen dangers when they can try to seize Corsucant with these new resources.
They will have to get back inside and make copies of the data for themselves. She won’t let him go anywhere until he’s healed from the burns he got during the firefight. He agrees to go into a healing trance on her promise that she will wake him in two hours.
She watches him for a moment and thinks about ten years of friendship they could have had rather than her watching him wander stupidly through the Force and experiencing the pain that came with it. But he seems to be on a proper path now.
She tells R2 to watch over him while she goes off to prevent Parck from letting the Empire in on this secret.
  • The healing trance keeps getting used here. I don’t know if it’s been used so much as in this book, even when Luke was much more seriously injured.

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chapter 30:
Navett and Klif watch the old woman for awhile. The New Republic agents, however, are gone. They must have had something urgent to do. That leaves this woman to deal with.
They head into her ship and all the lights turn on. The old woman’s voice greets them. It’s a recording. She tells them she learned from a couple of friends that the Vengeance organization seems to evaporate every time they get close to it. She thinks it’s a good indicator that Vengeance is just a handful of Imperial agents causing trouble.
Since her New Republic friends are gone, this means it’s just her and them. After the recording ends, Navett decides she’s just hoping to draw them out. She doesn’t really know who they are and can’t possibly be all that effective against them since Antilles is gone. They search the ship anyway in case she’s hiding inside.
Inside an empty crate near her ship, Miranda listens via a comlink she’d hidden in the ship and watches them leave. Sure enough, they’d been foolish enough to confirm through their chatter that they are the pet shop owners and they’re planning something nasty.
But the New Republic rep here will want proof and the Bothans will, too.
She decides to sit for a few hours in case they left someone behind watching the ship.
Han contacts Leia and explains they got what they wanted with a couple of complications. She tells him to go to Bothawui. She was headed to Coruscant when she found out Gavrisom is there trying to mediate the whole war fleet thing.
Han, thinking Leia should have already been on Coruscant, asks her if her meeting was delayed. She explains it wasn’t but it not with whom she expected. She took a side trip after that. She can’t be specific over the com but it’s related to why she has to speak with Gavrisom now.
Lando has him come back to the control room where Lobot and Moegid are sitting. The Verpine’s antennae are twitching and the datacard is sitting there. It appears that the Document has been altered. The names have been changed. Moegid is absolutely certain. They had been surprised when some of the top Bothan family names were on the list. That’s why.
Thrawn will hold off on any attacks so they can arrive on Bothawui with a tampered document that will cause more trouble. Lando does mention that Thrawn implicated Fey’lya’s people in the stolen rifles. He may have lied about the Document but not that. In fact, Thrawn may not have been the ones to change the names.
They have to assume that possibility will be brought up. They will have to go to Bothawui and pretends everything is alright. If the Bothans really do know who is guilty, they might be bluffed into revealing the actual names.
Tierce is convinced that Thrawn’s old allies are now taking the bait and nosing around Bastion. Flim appears and wants to know if they’re planning to wait until the Hand of Thrawn knocks on the door before they do something about the strange ships that have been buzzing around the capital.
Tierce thinks they’ll make a transmission from deep space so they can beat a hasty retreat if needed. It will give him time to find out what they want and to take a message for Thrawn that Flim can worry about later.
Flim thinks Parck will see right through it, but Tierce reminds him how important wishful thinking is to a con artist. Thrawn’s devoted followers want him to be alive.
Flim thinks they’ll just be that more dangerous when they realize they’ve been had. He also wants to know if either Tierce or Disra is aware that Bel Iblis has disappeared. The strike team on Bothawui recognized a couple of Rogue Squadron pilots nosying around their operation before leaving abruptly. Since Rogue Squadron is attached to Bel Iblis, there is something afoot.
The official New Republic version is that Bel Iblis is at Kothlis putting together a force to protect Bothawui if necessary. But the actual data doesn’t put him anywhere near the place. He took the liberty of contacting Intelligence himself and they were happy to give the information to Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Tierce asks if the Mistryl leader is on her way for the meeting Karoly D’ulin arranged. He would like her to meet them on Yaga Minor instead. He thinks he can give a demonstration to both the Mistryl, Captain Parck and Bel Iblis at the same time.
Bel Iblis is being sent to grab a copy of the Caamas Document. It’s their last chance to avert a civil war. This build up began before Devist brought his falsified data that led Solo to Bastion. Bel Iblis has been out of contact and doesn’t know they’ve already got a copy.
If Bel Iblis checks in before then and doesn’t arrive then they impress the Mistryl with the size of their base. No harm if they don’t know an attack was expected. Disra thinks Coruscant may send Bel Iblis to attack Bastion instead. They may have the Caamas Document, but it’s altered.
Tierce argues that they have no way of proving that and Bel Iblis cannot show up here and conduct an unprovoked attack without giving the Empire a big propaganda tool to use against them and cause more systems to join.
They think Disra just doesn’t want to be away from his comforts on Bastion or is afraid of being attacked. Disra points out that he thinks they will find it suspicious if Thrawn is not at the capital when it’s attacked.
Tierce is certain Bel Iblis will hit Yaga Minor and not Bastion. As for pushing the New Republic into a battle with the Empire, he thinks they will be in the middle of a civil war instead. By that time, the Hand of Thrawn will be in Imperial hands.
Pellaeon arrives with stormtroopers and demands that Vermel’s cell door be opened regardless of Disra’s orders. He has Vermel removed and they are escorted by the two dozen troopers back to the ship.
Vermel explains that Captain Dorja told him his orders had come from Grand Admiral Thrawn. Pellaeon had heard those rumors himself, but has not seen the Grand Admiral personally. He decides it’s time to do that.
Vermel worries that the admiral will be in trouble for springing him. Pellaeon tells him that Thrawn never punished his officers for doing what they felt was right, especially if he’d not given them orders or the information needed to understand.
They are going to Bastion and confronting Disra about this. If the rumors are only that, they have nothing to fear. He has evidence against Disra involving him in financial dealings, pirate activity and in the incitement of riots within the New Republic that will prove valuable in his negotiations with them.
If the rumors are true, they’ll have to deal with them. For now, he’d like Vermel to tell him what happened at Morishim.
  • At one point, Han thinks he should refuse to give Gavrisom the datacard unless he allows Leia to extend her leave and have a real vacation. Remind me, again, why the Chief of State/President/Whatever Leia Is has not come back to her job yet??? For all intents and purposes, Leia’s vacation is over. She’s been to and from Coruscant doing things related to the crisis already. It’s sheer foolishness for her to be flying here and there and letting her stand-in sit on Bothawui and mediate for the two fleets of warships. Think about this…if the US were to experience a crisis significant enough to cause a civil war and the President were on vacation at the time, would he not rush back to Washington, DC, asap, and return to his job instead of letting the Vice-President handle everything? Or would he do as Leia has done and run all over the place acting like a really hands-on Secretary of State?
  • It is reported Navett recognized a couple of Rogue Squadron pilots. Actually, he only recognized Wedge, but he probably assumed Corran was with Rogue Squadron, too, since he was with Wedge.

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chapter 31:
Six hours of wok fits out every flight-worthy ship on Exocron for battle before Rei’kas’s fleet arrives. Admiral David of Exocron’s fleet orders them to retreat toward the planet.
Shada is surprised to see huge ovoid ships pop in behind the pirates. They are piloted by the Aing-Tii monks which are aliens strongly opposed to slavery. Since Rei’kas is a slaver, that makes this battle fairly simple. They normally stay very close to the Kathol Rift so it takes something special to bring them close to Exocron.
Karrde realizes that they were waiting for someone to lead Rei’kas into the system so the Aing-Tii would come, too. That someone was him. David assures him that they only used Karrde’s actions. The decision to come to Exocron and the inability to prevent Rei’kas from tracking them here was Karrde’s.
Karrde wonders, however, if this was David’s idea or someone else’s. He asks for a channel to be opened and for C-3PO to translate a message into Old Tarmidian. A response comes back quicky and strongly. C-3PO translates the answer to come ahead.
The Wild Karrde puts down again at the Rintatta City landing field where Entoo Nee meets them once more. Karrde is puzzled, uncertain and a bit resentful. The house is unchanged, but the stench of sickness and death is gone.
Standing where the bed had been is very much alive Jorj Car’das. He welcomes Karrde and opens a back wall that reveals a rail car that will take them to his real home. He is happy to bring Shada andPO, too, and is delighted that one ofPO’s dialects includes his specific Old Tarmidian one.
They arrive at a beautiful garden within the mountain. He tends it himself with a few others and brings them into a conversation room and opens a door. A huge room with thousands of datacards.
He knows they are here for the Caamas Document. He checked his files as soon as the story broke. He doesn’t have it.
He sits them down and begins with his abduction by the dark Jedi of Bpfassh. He’d never felt truly terrified until then. The dark Jedi had all of Vader’s power but none of the control. He murdered Car’das’s crewmen but left him alone for reasons Car’das can only guess at.
They traveled through the spacelanes until they arrived at the swamp planet of Dagobah where the dark Jedi found they were not alone. A Jedi Master named Yoda was waiting for them. He cannot describe the battle, even after 45 years of dwelling on it. By the end, the dark Jedi was dead.
Car’das hadn’t expected to survive either but Yoda nursed him back to health. He doesn’t know how long it took but he was able to repair the ship enough to leave. It wasn’t until he was back with his organization that he realized that some part of him had changed.
He was about to outthink his opponents and guess their strategies. He assumed he’s absorbed some of Yoda’s abilities during the healing process. Before long, he was victorious in whatever he did, seeing the downfall of the Hutt cartels, the gathering power around Senator Palpatine and how he could take advantage. Then it all ended.
His health began to collapse suddenly. He went back to Dagobah and demanded that Yoda help him. He must have looked ridiculous towering over the creature with a blaster and beckon call, threatening to bring his ship to shower destruction over them both. Yoda took both away from him and suspended him above the ground. He told Car’das how he had squandered the gift of life he’d been given 25 years earlier by pursuing personal gain.
Car’das knew that he could never face his colleagues again. He isn’t angry with Karrde for taking over the organization. Karrde saved it and treated his people with the dignity and respect Car’das never bothered with. He’s wanted to thank him for twenty years.
He assumed that Karrde would show up eventually when Mara Jade and Lando Calrissian came sniffing around. It turns out that his arrival gave them the opportunity to eliminate Rei’kas and his pirates. The Aing-Tii have taught him that not all is predetermined, yet all is still guided. He’s not quite sure he really understands it.
The Aing-Tii have an understanding of the Force, but it’s different from the Jedi. Yoda would not heal him. He had another job to do which probably limited his time. He had the most important instruction that he had had for a hundred years.
Karrde guesses it was Luke Skywalker.
Car’das never knew but had suspected it. Yoda told him to seek out the Aing-Tii who might be willing to help him. They did at a price. He had to spend his life learning their ways of the Force.
Shada mentions that Jedi have to possess some kind of inborn aptitude. Car’das says that the Jedi may, but the Aing-Tii are different. They do not see in terms of Jedi or dark Jedi, black and white, but in a rainbow of colors.
He demonstrates by sitting his cup down on the floor, leaving the table empty and suddenly, a decanter appears. He explains that he moved it from the cooking area by seeing the room and envisioning it with the decanter already here.
He invites them to stay the night. The Aing-Tii have star drives that allow them to make instantaneous jumps to wherever they want to go. They have offered to take the Wild Karrde anywhere Karrde wants to go.
He wants them to indulge an old man and get some rest. He asks C-3PO to help him cook while the two of them have their talk.
  • If Car’das had really arrived on Dagobah 45 years ago, was healed by Yoda and spent 25 years building up his organization, then he would have returned to Dagobah around 20 years ago which would be right about the time of ESB. The problem is that he could not have arrived on Dagobah in the company of the dark Jedi 45 years ago. ROTS was 38 years ago after which Yoda arrived on Dagobah himself. So the dark Jedi incident could have been no more than 38 years ago, coinciding with Luke & Leia’s births and Yoda’s exile to Dagobah. If then the incident occurred 38 years ago, then spending 25 years building up his organization would have him returning to Dagobah 13 years ago, well after the destruction of the Empire and Yoda’s death. So we are going to have to say that Car’das might have landed on Dagobah sometime 38 years ago (19 years BBY) and returned to confront Yoda 22 to 23 years later which would have been 3 years ABY and shortly before the time when Luke arrived to be trained.
  • And,of course, 45 years ago would have been prior to Palpatine’s becoming Emperor. He wasn’t even a Senator then, but already Supreme Chancellor. Car’das might’ve sensed the growing power surrounding him then. However, since we’ve determined he couldn’t have met Yoda on Dagobah that long ago, then his gifts of foresight came to him after the formation of the Empire and Palpatine’s elevation to Emperor. This means that he could not have seen any gathering of power around Senator Palpatine as a result of the encounter with Yoda. Unless, of course, we are going to argue that the title of Senator is being used synonymously with Supreme Chancellor or Emperor.
  • Unless the Aing-Tii taught Car’das how to create an illusion, then I don’t see how his moving a decanter into the room does not relate to manipulating the Force. It may be a different way of using the Force than how the Jedi do, but it is is still using the Force. Either Car’das can access the Force or he can’t. If he can, then he’s got the midichlorians or there’s still some of Yoda’s healing power left in him.
  • At one point, Car’das mentions he’s not sure anyone knows the whole story about Thrawn. Yet he does not mention that he was probably one of the first humans to have met Thrawn 47 years ago. Nor does he mention that relationship continued until as late as about 18 years ago during Choices of One.

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chapter 32

At Bothawui, both Leia and Elegos A’kla lament the the irony of all these warships preparing to fight and kill over their deep respect for the Caamasi. He asks if the comet is nearby. They look out the portside window and agree it’s magnificent. The proximity to the planet makes up for its small size.

The comets are often seen as omens of momentous or terrible events. Leia isn’t sure Bothan political maneuvering doesn’t outnumber the comet appearances here. Elegos understands, but explains that he pities the Bothans as he considers their political backbiting indicative of an unhappy people. Without trust, there can be no peace.

She wonders if the Caamasi ever tried to enlighten the Bothans. He admits some probably did, but he doesn’t think that caused the sabotage of their shields. He’s thought about this for a long time. He believes that the Bothans were threatened or blackmailed by Palpatine into doing it, but also that there was some secret that they feared the Caamasi knew and would reveal someday.

They spot an Ishori war cruiser drifting toward a particular space, but a coupleo f Diamalan blockade runners appear. It looks like the issue is about to be forced. They both know it won’t matter who starts firing first.

She decides to head into the fray. Elegos warns her that her High Council position will probably not help. She flies into the midst of the fleets and uses her lightsaber to cut into one of the power converters, then hails the Ishori cruiser and explains the mechanical failure has cost them the ability to maneuver. Their course will take them too close to the hull of the Ishori ship and they need to move to avoid a crash.

She also mentions that Trustant Elegos A’kla is aboard. They tractor the ship in while she affects a shutdown and then escorts them over to the New Republic fleet.

Cutting through the floor of a tapcafe storage floor, Navett and Klif look forward to four more days of digging. One of their associates warns them the night guards think they’ve spotted an intruder. The associate doesn’t have any details but he suspects it oculd be the old woman. He saw someone matching her description sitting in here earlier in the day.

They decide to check it out and make sure she’s not hanging around. After an hour, the commotion dies down. Navett waits another thirty minutes before contacting Klif who reports nothing. It was probably a false alarm. They head back into the basement where they find a comlink sitting there.

Navett keys it and greets the old woman. He doesn’t think she knows for certain they are an Imperial team or that they are after the shield generators. He thinks she’s still in the building, but she tells him how she got out.

She also knows they were the ones behind the riot on Bothawui which used that rare Nightstinger.

Navett and Klif debate how much she really knows. Klif doesn’t think she’s playing around. Navett thinks she doesn’t have any proof or she would have gone to Bothan security. They don’t play around, particularly now. For some reason, this is a personal job for her. That may be to their advantage.

Gavrisom asks if Leia believes Pellaeon is sincere about this. She says that she believes he is. He points out that it may be meaningless with Thrawn on the scene. Leia points out that Pellaeon had had no word that Thrawn had assumed command or that the Moffs had pulled their support for the peace plan. Gavrisom is more suspicious and he’s angry. He’s sure this is a trick by Thrawn.

Leia accuses him of not wanting the peace off to be genuine. He reminds her that there are two hundred warships in orbit all ready to begin a war over their interpretation of what justice for Caamas means. They both know that the Caamas Document may not diffuse the situation as, for a lot of them, they are using the destruction of Caamas as an excuse to reopen all wounds and pick up old grudges.

He doesn’t think they will back down even if their excuses are no longer valid. He cannot count on the Caamas Document to solve all their problems. But, having a common enemy does serve a purpose. It can unite them. Regardless of how small or how insignificant a threat they are, fighting the Empire can unite them.

He is ashamed to think of it. But he doesn’t care whether or not his name and memory are held in high esteem or not. His job is to hold the New Republic together. He does authorize her to put together a list of delegates for a peace conference. Gavrisom also reminds her that she is on a leave of absence. She can always end it and resume her position.

Leia knows that but will not take control of the office now. Since the beginning of the crisis, his voice has been the one coming from Coruscant. It’s not good for the voice to change now.

He points out that his species tends to be better at words than at actions. Maybe the time has come for the latter. She thinks both are needed. He will trust her with the actions.


  • For Heaven’s sake, Leia, take your office back!!!!! The only reason Gavrisom’s voice has been the one heard from Coruscant since the beginning of the crisis is because you have continued your so-called leave of absence! You should have resumed your job the moment the crisis developed. Now, you’re leaving the guy in charge who’s ready to chuck the peace offer in favor of giving these factions a target to unite against. Really?

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chapter 33:

Shada sneaks into the library that night, surprised to find the lights on. C-3PO appears and explains that usually closes down at night, but Car’das suggested he might want to chat with the main computer. He sometimes misses R2 and other droids.

Shada knows what it’s like to feel out of place. She asks if he can help her find a bit of information. C-3PO doesn’t think that will do much harm and asks what she needs. Car’das arrives and answers that she’s searching for Emberlene.

He asks if she knows what she wants for her world and she says justice. He tells her that her people have never wanted justice, only vengeance. She says that someone feared their growing power and prestige. There are rumors that it was Palpatine which is why the Mistryl do not work for the Empire. He reminds her that isn’t necessarily true. She admits that sometimes the need to feed and clothe refugees meant they worked for the Empire. Car’das notes how slippery principles can be.

He does, however, tell her that Palpatine had nothing to do with the destruction of Emberlene. He has the true history of the planet on a set of datacards which he has pulled together as soon as he knew she was accompanying Karrde.

Shada tells him that the information may not mean anything as history is often written by the victors. Car’das points out that sometimes it’s written by bystanders, such as the Caamasi, the Alderaanians and the Jedi. Not all of them are lying.

He tells her that three years before Emberlene’s destruction, the rulers began conquering and plundering other worlds. It’s possible that ordinary citizens didn’t realize what was happening, but they could certainly read between the lines and probably chose to ignore it.

Their victims banded together and hired a mercenary army that was a bit overzealous in its response. He wonders what she would do if she knew who hired the mercenaries and who made up that army. Would the Mistryl destroy them and create more suffering?

She doesn’t know. However, it’s the only thing that might allow her to return to her people. He tells her she doesn’t want to go back to those who are living a lie. She has nowhere else to go. The New Republic doesn’t want her and Karrde is just a smuggler. She wants to do something honorable.

Car’das suggests that Karrde’s organization is less about smuggling than in information brokering. Shada still believes that it’s a form of stealing. He asks Karrde, who’s appeared at the doorway, if he ever thought of it that way.

Car’das called him here because he has a gift for them both. He has two datacards. One is the history of Emberlene; the other is a special card he’s made up that has what he believes is far more valuable information. They may choose one. Karrde lets Shada decide.

She is torn, but understands that she cannot return to the Eleven with information that would cause more innocents to suffer. She picks the other one. Car’das is pleased, but tells them it’s time for them to leave. They have a lot to do now and what they read on the datacard will help them to decide what to do.

On the way to a rendezvous with an Aing-Tii, they read the card and are stunned. She asks if they are taking this to Coruscant. Karrde believes that they can do better.

Captain Nalgol still has four more days until the battle begins. He is told that a droid probe has brought in a report that hostilities nearly began early. Additionally, a freighter has arrived in system that is rumored to contain High Councilor Leia Organa Solo and possibly a Caamasi Trustant.

Nalgol is convinced this is all part of Thrawn’s master plan.


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chapter 34:
Luke wakes up to complete darkness. He’s been in the healing trance for five hours and calls to Mara that she promised only two. She’s not here. R2 explains she left right after he went into his trance. Luke knows where she’s gone and tells R2 to watch the ship.
He calls to her through the Force and she answers back. Finding her on a ledge, he climbs up and tells her he’s completely healed. Mara’s been watching the Hand of Thrawn and mentions a ship came in about three hours ago. This is probably the one that will take Parck to Bastion. They cannot let him go there.
She finds their situation ironic. She’s spent years trying to build a new life for herself while Luke has run around trying to save the whole galaxy. Yet, with the New Republic about to tear itself apart, he came to save her. Now, she has to sacrifice that new life to save the New Republic.
There are ranging shots coming from the towers. She reminds him of a sacrifice that all Jedi must make. He tells her not to do this, but she says it’s the only way. The Jade’s Fire is headed toward the weak point in the fortress. It crashes into the hangar and explodes, taking any functional ship with it.
That ship was the symbol of her independent life and now it’s gone. He holds her in support. With the distraction of the explosion, they can sneak back inside.
As they head toward the towers, Child of Winds meets them. Mara can hear him. He tells them that the Threateners have invaded the territory of the Qom Jha. Clearly, Luke and Mara cannot go back in the way they originally did.
Mara tells Child of Winds that they cannot do anything to help the Qom Jha, but that the Imperials consider all of the vermin. If they stay away from the towers, they will probably be left alone.
She tells him it’s an imperfect universe where no one always gets what they want. Child of Winds asks what she wants. Mara would like to start with a way back into the High Tower. Child of Winds says he can show them a way, but it’s the same passage the fire creepers use. He and his friends will carry them there.
Mara doesn’t think they will have to go so far as the High Tower. She remembers the big power source R2 had spotted in the direction they’d been told Qom Jha were always killed, She also remembers that Thrawn was alleged to have promised his return ten years after a reported death.
Pellaeon struggles with the officer Moff Disra left behind who has no idea how to contact Disra and implies that Pellaeon may no longer be the Supreme Commander.
The admiral decides to look into the Thrawn rumors and asks Intelligence if there are any reports of him being associated with any Star Destroyer other than the Relentless. When the answer is negative, he orders that ship found.
He learns that it is headed to Yaga Minor with Grand Admiral Thrawn aboard. Pellaeon has course set there. They are stopped when an unknown alien ship appears and a voice Pellaeon thinks sounds familiar announces that he has something he believes the admiral would like to see.
  • I’m still not convinced Jedi had to make a sacrifice as a final test. Just because Luke lost a lot doesn’t mean anything. The Jedi of old may have sworn off attachments, but, so far as I know, that didn’t suddenly make them open to the Force in ways that they weren’t before. I have to wonder at why Mara’s abilities suddenly allowed her to understand Child of Winds after she destroyed her ship.

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chapter 35:

Han and Leia are reunited. He tells her they have the Caamas Document but it’s been altered. Leia thinks they may be able to get a copy from somewhere else. For the time being though, Han is going to stall and refuse to hand over the copy until the fleets in orbit break up and go home.

Moegid thinks he might be able to reconstruct the data. Barring that, it’s possible that the Bothans might feel pressured into revealing what they know. Leia tells him that the situation may improve if the two biggest instigators, the Diamala and the Ishori, are persuaded to back down.

Leia asks Lando to go over and talk to Senator Miatamia. She and Gavrisom are already to meet with the Ishori later today.

She receives a comm. that a diplomatic envoy is here to see here. Carib Devist appears and congratulates Han for making it back from Bastion safely. Han tells him they were actually caught. He explains how they met Thrawn and his attitude indicates he thinks Carib was the one responsible. Carib says that they would have been stopped the minute the landed if that were the case. It’s more likely they were spotted in the city. He also reminds Han that it’s now very possible that the Imperials know that the data was faked and the clones along with their families are now in danger.

He was asked by the Directorate to offer support to the New Republic, so that’s why he’s here. He thinks they can be of help. For example, three of the ships out there are Imperials.

He knows Han doesn’t trust him but he is going to have to. Leia reminds Carib that Thrawn is known for strategies that make it difficult to trust. Carib points out that this is no way to live. Not trusting one’s allies is also no way to fight.

She asks him to go back to his ship, wander around the area and see if there are any other Imperial ships out there. Meanwhile, Lando will go meet with the Diamala, while Leia and Gavrisom talk to the Ishori. Han needs to stay out of it since he allegedly has the Caamas Document and can’t be seen with either side. He can take the time to repair the damage her lightsaber did to the Falcon.

In the briefing room aboard the Errant Venture, Booster Terrik is the last to arrive. Bel Iblis advises everyone who doesn’t already know that their target is the Ubiqtorate base at Yaga Minor. They are not going to take out the base. The Venture will drop out of hyperspace alone and transmit a distress signal that they are running from a New Republic task force.

He hopes to be able to penetrate the outer defenses this way. Booster argues that no one will believe this upgraded Star Destroyer would run from a small group of scrap metal ships. Bel Iblis agrees which is why some of the modifications to the hull of the ship have been made to look as though their flight would be practical. Booster is unhappy and tells Bel Iblis he wants everything back the way it was when it’s over with, including a coat of paint that is not white.

Bel Iblis goes on to say that the remainder of the group will drop in and form up, but they will not fully engage the defense perimeter, just poke it enough to keep attention on themselves. They will be firing proton torpedoes in an attempt to get some of them to the base itself.

The Venture will stop, send an assault boat down with a strike team aboard that will try to slice into the computer systems and download a copy of the Caamas Document. There are concerns the Imperials will notice this activity, but Bel Iblis says that they should be able to get past that issue.

Wedge isn’t so sure. He wonders if Bel Iblis is really planning to get out of this or if he expects to die. That would take Booster with him; something the old pirate must know. Corran leans over and tells him that Booster isn’t getting all noble on them. He just doesn’t want his grandson growing up in the middle of a civil war.

Rogue Squadron will just have to work hard to make sure the Venture gets out. Of course, the starfighters, including the Rogues are to stay with the outer attack group.

For the time being, the Venture will be running under the ID tags of the Tyrannic under Captain Nalgol’s command. It hasn’t been heard from in weeks and is unlikely to show up at Yaga Minor.

Corran has a bad feeling about that. He just doesn’t know what it is.


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chapter 36:

Klif wakes up Navett to tell him that someone’s been in the shop. Inside, they find datacards all over the place and equipment knocked over. Klif doesn’t understand how she got in without tripping the alarms.

It’s a miracle she didn’t take the mawkrens. In fact, she didn’t take anything. The place is rearranged, but their secret compartment behind the power coupling box. They do find another comlink, however, next to the small cylinders that had been hidden in the false bottom of the mawkren cage.

Navett warns her that she shouldn’t be up late at her age and wants to know why she came in. The old woman explains that she likes animals. The usual taunting on both sides occurs and she signs off, telling them she needs the rest and they have company coming.

Klif asks if she would actually call security. Navett is sure she wouldn’t because he’s still convinced she is some kind of legal trouble herself. Then a knock on the door reveals four Bothans from the local authorities responding to a report of a break-in.

They look around and ask about the cylinders which Navett explains are hormone capsules for the baby mawkrens. The Bothans accept this and continue to look around while Navett and his team get to work on their plot right under the noses of security.

The officers have long left, leaving only techs testing for handprints and other evidence, when Navett smells something. They realize it’s smoke. Klif is certain she wouldn’t do this. Navett has him move the mawkrens they’ve finished to the tapcafe despite it being full this morning. They’ll have to move quickly.

The Bothan techs smell the smoke, assume the fire is in the walls and tell the store staff to leave empty handed. These animals may be valuable but not worth their lives. One of them decides to slow the fire down and starts cutting into the wall above the power couplings. The secret compartment is exposed and the tech spots the Nightstinger weapon. Navett shoots him in the back. The other two are taken care of quickly.

They don’t have a choice now. Navett tells Klif to get the others into the ship and into space. They cannot dodge this woman for the three days it will take for the task force in orbit to be ready. They will have to move now.

The representative from the Eleven, Paloma D’asima explains that this is an unprecedented step as her people have never been close to the Empire. Thrawn assures her that his Empire is not the same as Palpatine’s. She would rather have more than just his word.

Captain Dorja comms in and explains that they’ve received an unscheduled arrival of the Tyrannic which is requesting emergency assistance. They claim to have been under assault by a New Republic task force.

Disra knows that it can’t really be the Tyrannic out there. Tierce had been right and the New Republic is making a mad dash to grab a copy of the Caamas Document.

Thrawn tells Dorja to have General Hestiv let the ship pass the outer perimeter, then put all defenses on full battle readiness. Dorja is to then prepare the Relentless for an enemy attack, track the ship claiming to be Tyrannic, plot its course and move directly between it and the base.

Ghent wakes up when the alarm sounds. He looks around and wanders to the viewport where he sees turbolaser and proton torpedo blasts coming from the outer perimeter of the base.

Fearing the Star Destroyer in orbit is coming for him, he considers taking off. But he can’t because he’d triple-sealed the access door so well that it would take him half-an-hour to unseal it and that will be too late.

With nothing else to do, he goes back to work.

Navett takes a landspeeder down the street, starting fires to satisfy the emergency responders who likely have been tipped off by the alarms, then shoots the driver of the fire suppression truck that arrives. He moves along, with distracted and panicked citizens concentrating on the fires, shoots a police officer and speeds off, running into the tapcafe doors. He grabs the cage of mawkrens and runs to the basement.

With the front of the building on fire, no one can get to him now. The equipment is still here but he takes a minute to check the fusion disintegrator. The old woman has been here again, having gimmicked the device to overload and burn out upon starting.

Navett fixes it, jumps into a hole and starts it up. The power cables begin to burn through. He shuts off the disintegrator, turns on the collant pack and waits. Then he hears the sound of a comlink inside the disintegrator.

She demands to know what he’s up to. He congratulates her on the delayed smoke which brought the Extinguishers in to open up the panels in the shop. She reminds him the building is on fire right now and he’s not likely to live if he doesn’t leave now.

He tells her they all have to die sometimes. He sends lizard after lizard with tiny bombs attached to them into the hole and waits for the explosions that will bring the shield down.

Leia and Gavrisom feel turbolaser fire while on the Ishori ship. The captain explains that aliens have taken over one of their weapons clusters and is firing at the ground. Through the Force, Leia can sense death and knows that the shield has come down.

She grabs her lightsaber and rushes out of the room.

Elegos points out the ship firing on the planet. Han tells him to release the Falcon’s docking collar. He turns on the engines and the comm..

Gavrisom’s voice orders all ships to hold fire before jamming cuts him off. A new voice orders all Corellian forces to attack, then all Mon Cal ships, all Diamalan ships, all Ishori ships.


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chapter 37:

The Qom Qae take only 15 minutes to fly them to the far side of the Hand of Thrawn. They hope they won’t run into swarms of fire creepers again. The lake is small but Child of Winds cautions them that the rains have been heavier the past few seasons and it’s gotten larger.

He says the entrance may soon be covered with water. Right now, it is not. They will watch and wait for the humans to come out.

Luke slips through the entrance near the slope of the lake. R2 and Mara follow and they find themselves in the underground room. The archway has rocks hanging down from it. Mara decides to use her lightsaber on it, it crackles with energy and brings almost the whole ceiling down. No wonder so many Qom Jha have died in here.

It’s like a Conner net which is usually a single charge gadget. They move forward, but hear something coming. Maintenance droids show up to reset the trap.

Nalgol is furious to learn the shooting has already started. The timetable is still three days away. He is told the shield has collapsed and the battle has begun. He makes sure the three Star Destroyers are ready. They will be needed to eliminate survivors of the battle.

He is concerned that someone might notice unusual activity around the comet, so he puts all tractor beams on alert. He doesn’t want any ship getting close to their cloaking shield without being pulled in and held on a communications blackout.

Han evades fire and comms Leia. She tells him that the Ishori claim three humans came aboard a short time ago with New Republic tech IDs and a letter from the Ishori Command authorizing them to examine the power couplings. This was, of course, a trick to give them access to the ship. They killed their escort and took over one of the turbolaser clusters.

They got off eight shots before power was cut to the cluster. Three Diamalan ships are sitting between them and the planet. She’s told them what happened, the captain has told them and Gavrisom has told them but they are not listening. She tells him not to try to approach the ship.

Carib Devist comes on and explains that the Imperial ships he’d spotted in the fleets were the ones to give recorded attack orders earlier. He’s calling now because he thinks there’s something wrong at the head of the comet. There are about a dozen mining ships in that are being flown by Imperial pilots. He is going to check it out and thought Han might want to, as well.

Elegos points out that Han will have to decide whether or not to trust this man and Leia’s reading of him. Han contacts Lando who confirms he’s stuck on the Diamalan ship with Senator Miatamia. He’s tried to get them to stop the jamming but no one is listening to him.

Han tells him he’s going over to the comet and wants Lando to keep an eye on him.

Bel Iblis cautions Booster not to do anything that will draw the Imperials’ attention from the New Republic fleet to the Errant Venture. Booster thinks they are getting in too easily. He is told the Star Destroyer Relentless is moving toward them.

A transmission comes in asking to speak with Captain Nalgol. Bel Iblis pretends to be a commander temporarily in charge while Nalgol has injuries treated. Thrawn comes on the comm. and tells Bel Iblis he’s disappointed in the charade. He puts 50 heavy-lift tractor beams on the Errant Venture.

He insists Bel Iblis surrender before Interdictor Cruisers arrive to trap the rest of the task force here, too. Bel Iblis begs off time to speak to his officers. He finds that the ship can move rotationally which isn’t enough to get out of the system, but would be enough to target the tractor beams.

He’s reminded that Thrawn will likely start firing on them then. Bel Iblis doesn’t think so. He thinks Thrawn wants some high-profile New Republic prisoners to parade around, on top of a fully-functional Star Destroyer.

As for getting out of here, they can’t do that while there’s a job to do. They need to get past the Relentless and disable it enough so it can’t fire on their slicers. As soon as they break clear of the tractor beams, they are going to ram the Relentless.

They are able to move 79 degrees and he orders all weapons to fire upon the tractor beam emplacements.

Han doesn’t see the mining ships so contacts Carib who insists they were there. They decide to take a closer look at the comet. They find the outline of a Star Destroyer there. Han realizes it’s cloaked. He tells Elegos to ready the comm. for when they’re clear but the Falcon and Carib’s freighter are caught in tractor beams and pulled into the cloaking shield.


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chapter 38:

The tunnel ends in a large lighted room. Mara knew that Thrawn would be hidden from his own people. A cloning apparatus, including a Spaarti cylinder are tied into a generator. Inside is Grand Admiral Thrawn. Mara thinks he had the cycle set on a ten-year timer and reset it every time he came back.

Luke has R2 jack into the system and download everything he can about the Unknown Regions. There are ysalamiri in here to ward off Jedi. However, Thrawn couldn’t think of everything. The expanding lake has started dripping in here. There’s water damage on the walls.

They wonder how close to the original Thrawn the clone will be. It’s likely he will have all of Thrawn’s memories, but his genius, his leadership or drive may not have passed over in the cloning process.

That doesn’t help them decide what to do with him. Mara points out that she’s not so sure they should blast their way in there and get rid of him. Fel and Parck are convinced there’s something out there. Luke is more concerned that the New Republic will panic and launch a preemptive strike against the Empire.

He believes that the clone isn’t responsible for what the original Thrawn did. Mara then asks whether they leave him here to wake up normally and join Parck or take him back to Coruscant.

R2 beeps and confirms he’s found the data about the Unknown Regions. Luke starts to head over there, then pauses at the furniture here. Mara suggests these are just things Thrawn will need when he wakes up. Luke wonders why it’s not set up for him then. Thrawn would surely know what arrangement his clone would like. There’s something wrong about this.

A giant face forms out of the rock and demands to know who disturbs the sleep of Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo. The voice appears to be a recording. Two sentinel droids appear, though. Further, the floor sprouts cords that try to wrap around their feet if they move. That’s why the furniture is moved out of the way.

The blasters aren’t strong enough for the armor and they quickly find that the droids are protected by a layer of cortosis ore. They are able to take out the blasters on the droids. But the sentinels have backup weapons.

Leia senses Han in danger and demands to speak with the Ishori captain. She tells him there a hidden threat out there. He doesn’t care about anything other than the Diamalan attackers they are fighting now.

Gavrisom tells Leia the captain can’t think that far ahead with his ship under attack. He asks if anyone else knows about the danger. Leia guesses Lando might. Gavrisom offers to try to pierce the jamming by talking to the captain. He suggests she try to do something with her Jedi skills.

Lando is on the Diamalan ship trying to push them to do something abou the jamming. He insists to the senator that he saw the Millennium Falcon vanish around the comet. When he gets no help there, he insists that Miatamia pay back the favor he owes Lando for giving him a ride back to Coruscant.

Miatamia says it’s too risky to open a channel even to just Leia Organa Solo. Lando offers a bet then. If the threat is not serious, he will give Diamala his mining and casino operation on Varn.

The senator agrees and allows the open channel for two minutes. Lando and Leia compare notes with Lando speculating that the ship vanished inside a cloaking shield.

Rogue Squadron gets confirmation that Bel Iblis is in trouble. Wedge spots the Venture firing everything they’ve got to break the tractor beam. The Rogues decide to hit weak spots on the perimeter when they are commed by Talon Karrde.

He wants Corran to repay the favor he owes him by escorting him through New Republic lines to the Imperial base which is his destination. He claims that he might be able to stop the battle.

Wedge decides to lead Karrde through an area they were planning to hit anyway. If Karrde has an Imperial code that will let him pass, they may be able to pull off both.


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chapter 39:
Fighting the sentinel droids takes a lot from Mara. But this struggle for survival entwines her and Luke deeply in the Force. She can feel his search for a way out of this and for his concern for her. It’s an extension of the contact they’ve experienced this whole journey, but, in a way, it’s something new.
She finally understands Luke Skywalker in a way that she never has. She knows everything about him. And she knows that he knows everything about her. Mara never knew a relationship like this could exist or how badly she’s wanted one to. She finally understands how locking herself away from others has hurt her growth.
She wishes she hadn’t realized all this at the moment of her death. She remembers Corran Horn’s ability to absorb energy, but that’s not something she’s ever been good at. She will have to throw her lightsaber at her target and hope for enough time to accomplish what she needs to do.
Luke tries to warn her through the Force, but finally shows her what he means. R2 and his electric welder is approaching the attacking droid. She gets a vision of her and Luke lying on the floor and worries she’s seeing their deaths. But she begins to understand and they get ready. The droid turns around and knocks R2 over. For that moment, only one of its blasters is firing. That gives Mara and Luke enough time to hit the floor. Luke flips over and is able now to face both attackers. Mara tosses her saber at the sentinel which takes out both of its blasters.
It turns to reach for replacement weapons which gives her the chance to plunge her lightsaber into the water-damaged wall. The jet of water sprays out for several meters. The force of the flow crashes into the droid. It also forms a wave that catches her off-guard, lifts and throws her around.
Luke catches her and they grab onto the railing of the upper balcony. Luke goes back for R2. The room is filling up fast with water because the hole she created has widened. The droid is pushed up through the waves. Mara uses the Force to move him to the balcony where she is sitting.
Luke reappears and tells her the tunnel is already filled with water and so is the underground room. Mara thinks they can make it across the stairway to the fortress, but Luke says they would have to travel a hundred meters without air. She suggests a hibernation trance. Luke doesn’t think the water will push them fast enough through the tunnel.
Further, there are only two small holes to act as drainage. This room is filling up too quickly for the water to pass out. She asks him why he stayed with her and the Qom Jha when she told him to go back to Coruscant. He admits he had a vision of her lying in a pool of water, looking dead.
She says she at least has the satisfaction of knowing she did it to herself. She tells him Faughn told her they were a good team. Luke agrees, in fact he felt such closeness in the Force to her down there that they felt like a single person. It was very special.
She asks him how special and he grouses about how difficult she is. He asks her to marry him, regardless of whether or not they get out of here. Knowing the rushing water is making her normal verbal games pointless, she accepts.
  • Well, that was rather fast, wasn’t it? There’s been no declaration of love, just one special moment in the Force and ten years of waning animosity results in a marriage proposal.
  • Isn’t R2 a droid? Isn’t water bad for him? Or are droids in the SW equipped with watertight sealant?

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chapter 40:

Leia knows that her actions will likely cost her career and her life, but she won’t risk Han’s life to save either. Stretching out with the Force, she moves the sublight drive lever forward. The helmsman notices the movement and adjusts. She moves it again while laying in a new vector toward the comet.

The helmsman turns to the captain but spots Leia standing behind him. He calls the guards who step toward her. She uses the Force to pull their blasters away. The captain warns her that she is committing an act of war. Leia tells him that there is a terrible danger out here that he is ignoring. She resigns from the Senate, the High Council and the Presidency, stating she is just a private citizen now.

The captain reminds her she is giving up diplomatic priveleges put her under the jurisdiction of Ishori law. The penalty for mutiny is death.

Gavrisom intervenes and puts this vessel under direct New Republic command. He reminds the captain that he could face mutiny charges. The captain doubts a requisition of this type will stand firm, but the President tells him that jamming from the Diamalans makes consulting with his confederates difficult. He will have to decide if he trusts the President and a Jedi Knight regarding the danger.

The captain acquiesces and tells the Helm to move toward Leia’s course. She thanks Gavrisom who tells her that, in this instance, his words had to come first.

Nalgol is apprised of the catch of two ships snooping around the comet. He explains he doesn’t want any prisoners. He wanted them inside the cloak so noone will notice any debris.

Lando points out to the Diamala that the Ishori ship is moving toward the comet, so they must recognize the danger. Miatamia thinks they’re just running. There’s no need to pursue them now that the attack on Bothawui has been thwarted. If there is danger, they will surely find it. The Diamala needed risk their ships too. Lando suggests they may call in reinforcements if they get out of jamming range.

Miatamia hadn’t considered that. He has the Diamala ships follow the Ishori and keep up the jamming, just in case.

Elegos warns Han that fighting the tractor beam could do serious damage to the ship. He suggests they surrender. Clearly, Carib and his men are going to do that as they aren’t struggling against the beam.

Carib contacts Han and tells him to be ready. He also makes Han promise to take care of their families if they don’t make it. The freighter explodes and TIE Interceptors fly out of it. The explosion is enough to disrupt the tractor beam and free the Falcon.

Elegos points out that using the comm. isn’t necessary. An Ishori ship followed by several Diamala approach. Both Lando and Leia confirms their respective ships recognize the problem now. Knowing they’ve been spotted, the Star Destroyer drops the cloaking shield.

And so do the other two.


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chapter 41:

Thrawn orders the tractor beam emplacements repaired and new locks made on the Errant Venture. The Elder D’asima thinks Thrawn should just blast them rather than play games with them.

Disra and Tierce explain Thrawn’s subtleties. He’s giving Bel Iblis a chance to continue the fight because he wants the general and ship intact. Bel Iblis must be convinced he cannot escape.

Thrawn is told that a group of X-Wings have broken through the perimeter by following an Imperial supply ship with all proper access codes. He asks the Tierce to locate the freighter before his eyes widen. Admiral Pellaeon appears on the bridge and tells him the ship is in the hangar bay of this one.

Once the Star Destroyers appeared, the combatants realized what was going on and stopped fighting. But most are damaged and cannot hope to fight against three Star Destroyers. Even then, many of the ships will leave once they compute the odds.

Han contacts Leia and lets her know he’s fine. He does ask if Borsk Fey’lya is on the planet and says he’s going to try his hand at diplomacy.

Leia puts Lando in termporary charge of the remaining ships here. Lando would have preferred a larger fleet which is exactly what Han is happy to provide for him. He points to the ships rising from Bothawui.

He admits that he called Fey’lya and suggested that any Bothan who helped save his world would be very influential after the battle is over. Of course, he also leaked his transmission so that most of the planet heard the conversation. Lots of Bothans appear to want to be their world’s hero.

Tierce and Disra are frozen. Captain Dorja and his officers are staring. Thrawn turns and greets Pellaeon. He mentions they missed hearing that he was arriving. Pellaeon answers that he missed hearing about Thrawn’s return.

He introduces himself to the two Mistryl has the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Forces. When Disra objects to this, Pellaeon says he’s not heard of any change in command. In fact, they are all on slippery ground right now, especially Disra, Tierce and Flim.

He knows that the man posing as Grand Admiral Thrawn is actually an accomplished con artist. He has a datafile with a complete genetic profile. Dorja objects that he’s already checked that. Pellaeon points out that records can be altered. In fact, Tierce counters that datacards can be, too.

However, Pellaeon also has another record regarding the life history of Major Grodin Tierce. He was, indeed, an Imperial Guardsman who was loyal to a fault to Palpatine. He also really did work with one of Thrawn’s stormtrooper units. He also died ten years ago.

Disra realizes that this Tierce is just a clone. Tierce answers that he was a special and glorious creation. He was the first of what was mean to be a new breed of warrior, flash printed with combat strength, loyalty and some of Thrawn’s own tactical genius. It’s been him who has been manipulating Disra from the start to get him to do what he wanted.

He’s been the one running tactics on this ship, not Flim. He can be the Hand of Thrawn that can crush the New Republic . Pellaeon pities him. He tells him that the war is over. Tierce argues that they must have their vengeance.

Pellaeon explains that Thrawn was never about vengeance. He wanted order, stability and the strength that comes from unity and a common goal. Thrawn created Tierce two months before his death but didn’t create any others because the experiment was a failure.

He wanted a tactically-brilliant leader, not a tactically-brilliant stormtrooper. Tierce is not a leader, just a manipulator who wants revenge. Tierce punches Karoly, grabs her blaster and turns around toward Pellaeon. Then the blaster is shot out of his hand by Shada D’ukal who appears from behind Pellaeon. She quickly takes care of Tierce and a medical team is called.

Pellaeon orders all Imperial forces to stand down. Since they will expect any orders to come from Grand Admiral Thrawn, Flim is given permission to do the deed.

He also expresses his relief that this terrible nightmare is over. Pellaeon hopes to make time to hear Flim’s side of the story. And Disra’s.


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chapter 42:
Luke tries carving a pit into the top of the dome. Mara thinks he’s wasting time. It’s too bad they aren’t fighting a Dark Jedi. Taking on that mad clone of C’baoth created a big explosion. Luke considers this.
Other than stopping lightsaber blades, cortosis ore isn’t very strong. He thinks they can use the Force to create a big enough jolt to move the pressure wave through the tunnel. That whole area could collapse.
She points out that the fusion generator in there would create a bigger jolt than either of them wants. He thinks they have to take the chance. She offers to go, but he refuses. She points out that she knows a technique to weaken a stressed wall enough that it comes down after the person is out of the way. Palpatine taught it to her.
Luke didn’t get that lesson.
Besides, whoever stays here will have to lift the other one up quickly to get them away from the blast. She doesn’t think she’s strong enough to pull him up and doesn’t want to watch herself fail.
He senses her thoughts as she swims down toward the wall, cuts with her lightsaber. He can’t help but think about Callista and Gaeriel, wondering if his actions or inactions have put someone else in danger. Then she pops up.
He moves her up and the generator explodes. When they open their eyes, the water level starts going down. But it’s not to the tunnel and underground room yet. Something tells him they don’t have time to wait until it does. He puts her in a hibernation trance after arranging the code word to bring her out.
R2 goes through first. Luke jumps behind him, holding Mara. He is only vaguely aware of their surroundings as they are bumped against rocks. Then he wakes up and finds himself in water, resting on a boulder. Mara is gone. He quickly searches for her and finds her floating by a rock, her eyes closed, her limbs limp, as if in death.
He picks her up out of the water and tells her he loves her. She wakes up. He embraces her, knowing they are together, forever. She agrees. They kiss, then she reminds him they should probably get out of here. He thinks the cloning equipment has probably jammed up the flow of water for a time.
They left at a good time.
Nalgol is embarrassed that his fleet of three ships is being harried by these aliens and alien-lovers. He orders a retreat to Bastion where Grand Admiral Thrawn will hear all about this.
Luke and Mara debate how to get off the planet when Hunter of Winds arrives and tells them his son has told him all about their adventures. They have been watching for their return.
The Qom Qae offer to carry Luke, Mara and R2 to their ship. Hunter’s son has said that the Threateners will leave them alone if they do not bother them either. The Qom Jha will release him from his promise to help them if they leave now.
They agree to go, but suggest that Child of Winds be given an adult name for all he’s been through. Hunter of Winds will consider Friend of Jedi.
Karrde walks in as the the whole situation ends, explaining he was watching the turbolift In case the conspirators tried to bring in reinforcements for their side. As it happens, it doesn’t look like Pellaeon needed his help anyway.
The Elder was able to twist out of the way of a full-blown shot from Tierce. Karrde points out that Shada helped save here. Very likely, Tierce would have killed her after Pellaeon. And, even if her life means nothing to her, Karrde wonders what her reputation does mean. After all, she was here negotiating to bring the Mistryls in to work with the Empire under the command of a con artist. It wouldn’t have been long before they would have made up Disra’s private army.
Eventually, Flim’s charade would have been exposed and the reputation of the Mistryl along with it. The Elder realizes that he knows too much and asks what he wants. Karrde wants the hunter teams called off Shada, for her to be forgiven and the death mark lifted.
The Elder agrees but will not reinstate her and she can never return home. Karrde says he will find her another home.
Pellaeon approaches and tells him he’s headed to the Errant Venture to speak with Bel Iblis. He would like to discuss the price for the data he was given that exposed this plot. Karrde can’t really charge him because the information was a gift to him.
Pellaeon appreciates the gesture, but is sure they can come up with some way to suitably compensate Karrde. Karrde asks what he’s meeting with Bel Iblis about. Knowing the man will know soon, Pellaeon admits he’s negotiating a peace treaty to end the war between the New Republic and the Empire.
Karrde muses over the things he misses while out of known space. He looks over at Shada and then gets an idea. He asks to accompany Pellaeon to the Venture. He has a proposal.
Dealing with the destruction of the hangar, the Chiss don’t follow the ship Luke and Mara take to leave Nirauan. He is about to take them to Coruscant, but she is more practical and insists on the nearest base, whether it’s New Republic or Karrde’s. They need clean clothes and real food.
She also asks what R2 had gotten all excited about before they were attacked by the sentinel droids. Luke turns to R2 who says it wasn’t anything about the Unknown Regions but he did find something else: Thrawn’s copy of the Caamas Document.
  • Mara used her lightsaber underwater, right? It didn’t short out, did it?

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chapter 43:
Fifteen days later, the peace accords between the Empire and the New Republic are signed on the Chimaera. Han and Leia are in the back of the room watching Gavrisom and Pellaeon. Han thinks she should be the one up there.
She isn’t concerned about who gets the credit. They finally have peace.
Lando is gone, having returned to his lady friend, Tendra, who he’s taking shopping to make up for going to Bastion without telling her. Karrde approaches them and admits he’s not really considered respectable enough company to sit with the dignitaries.
Leia reminds him he’s done enough to fit in with that group. He talked both Pelleon and Bel Iblis into a joint Intelligence network. It’s the key to a lasting peace to know you can trust the other side. But, of course, neither Bastion nor Coruscant trust each other’s services, so he is serving as a neutral third party to gather and provide information to both governments instead of to private buyers.
The cooperation should help them put out fires before they get too big. As for the ones they’ve dealt with recently, many of the participants are embarrassed at how easily they were manipulated by Disra. Of course, the trial of the Bothan conspirators will help. Bothans are a long-lived species. The culprits are probably not too excited about that right now.
Karrde asks if Luke revealed where he got the copy of the Caamas Document. Leia admits that both Luke and Mara have been very quiet about their adventures. There’s a story to be sure but they will hear it eventually.
Han asks how Karrde’s going to manage without Mara. He admits she did a lot for his organization, but they’ll adjust, especially with Shada helping him.
Han reminds Karrde that he asked him what it would take to get him to join the New Republic. Karrde points out that he hasn’t and that his relationship with Shada is not the same as Han’s with Leia. Han tells him to give it time.
Luke brings hot chocolate to Mara at the viewport window and mentions that everyone will wonder where they are. She thinks they should let them. Hot chocolate was sniffed at by the courtiers of Palpatine’s court; Karrde’s group avoided anything non-alcoholic. But this fits with Luke’s farmboy past. It’s comfortable and stable and secure. She hasn’t had many of those times.
Luke asks if Leia has mentioned the wedding yet. They both agree she probably wants a huge Alderaanian-style ceremony. But Mara would rather have something smaller. She also wants to know if Luke has decided what to do about the academy.
He admits he can’t just abandon the students. He is thinking about turning it into a pre-Jedi school where beginners can learn the basics from older students. Their training can be completed by instructors once they’ve passed that stage. A one-on-one style like the way Ben and Yoda taught him might be better.
She is not thrilled with the concept of her teaching until she’s gotten more training under her belt. For now, she has to slowly disengage from her commitments to Karrde’s organization.
She also thinks that teaching on Yavin isn’t a good idea. The two of them should travel around with the advanced students, training them on the way so that they are available when emergencies pop up.
Luke wonders what she will be gaining from marrying him. She tells him she hadn’t realized how much she’d cut herself off from emotional attachments until their minds melded in the cloning chamber. She cried over a ship which was just a thing. She needs to learn openness and Luke can certainly teach her that.
But that’s just an issue of profit and loss. She believes they complement each other. He agrees.
Their future is in the Unknown Regions because there’s something out there. They will also decide what to do about the Hand of Thrawn. Mara thinks they should leave them out of it until Parck is willing to talk to the New Republic . She doesn’t think he’ll approach the Empire now that news of the Thrawn hoax has been reported.
Luke suggests he may want revenge for what she did to his hangar. Mara thinks he’ll just replace the ships and try to recruit her again. And wait for Thrawn to return. That will take some time considering the now-dead clone.
Or perhaps, because of the treaty, they’ll all develop the Unknown Regions together. Mara gets a vision of the future full of joy and sorrow, family and friends. Luke supposes he should put in an appearance at the ceremony. She doesn’t want to leave the vision behind, but tells him to hold on and she’ll come with him.
  • Considering Leia didn’t do much in an official capacity during the crisis, I have to agree that she should let Gavrisom take credit for the peace. Speaking of which, is she still Chief of State/President (albeit on a neverending leave of absence?) or did her resignation become official?
  • Mara’s thought of traveling the galaxy teaching students is similar to what Luke assumed the Chu’unthor was for.
  • I’m still surprised Luke doesn’t seem to be aware of the traditional Jedi way of training students. His idea of having older students train beginners while the instructors train the advanced student on a one-on-one basis is very similar to what the Jedi of the Old Republic did. But, still, he should probably have the details by now.
  • In Heir to the Empire, the second chapter explained Lando had introduced Luke to hot chocolate. It was described as an exotic drink. Since Luke had obviously never had it before, it probably isn’t a farmboy drink in the SW galaxy. Not sure why the Imperial Court would sniff its nose at it if it was an exotic drink.
  • This book ends as the original Thrawn trilogy did...with Mara telling Luke she'll come with him.

The End

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