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chapter 22:


Luke looks around, while still speaking with Estosh. He doesn’t understand this plan. After all, the Vagaari couldn’t have known that any of the Dreadnoughts were in one piece, much less able to fly. When the car reaches the explosives, he jabs his finger up and Evlyn stops it.


Mara can sense his tension. Then she asks what the original plan was. Luke looks over to the detonator box and raises his finger. Evlyn activates the car again.


Estosh isn’t interested in chatting with them and cuts the signal. Mara asks what’s going on. Luke tells her he thinks the pylon is about to be blown. He describes the detonator and she identifies it as a fast moving one.


He has Evlyn move the lift but the pylons explode sooner than Mara expected. He shields Evlyn from the shrapnel that flies out, trying to use the Force to close the doors so they will have breathable air, instead of the thin atmosphere of the planetoid. The doors slam shut and he falls down. When Mara gets the door open, he tells her he’s home.


In the medical bay, Evlyn’s minor injuries are treated while Luke uses a Jedi healing trance on his more serious ones. Mara takes the opportunity to confront the various persons here. For one, she knows that Fel and his men were not sent her to provide back-up for Luke and Mara. He admits that Parck sent them to help the Aristocra, not the Jedi. But that’s all he knows. If he’d known the danger posed by Bearsh, all of the Vagaari would have been detained.


Considering the amount of damage they’ve been able to do, it seems clear that they are the ones who stole Fel’s operational manual. It will help them fly their stolen Dreadnaught.


However, she still wants to know why it was felt the Aristocra might encounter trouble when all they were doing was visiting the ruins of the Flight, especially in light of the fact that he expressly asked the Jedi not to use their lightsabers.


She explains that the Vagaari never saw the lightsabers or any use of the Force prior to their revelation in the council meeting room. The Aristocra made sure of that, as if he were holding the Jedi powers in reserve to surprise them.


This means the Chiss had to know about the Vagaari ahead of time. Jinzler guesses it was Feesa who was far more panicked in the turbolift than she should have been. He thinks it was because they were trapped in there with the Vagaari.


Formbi will not allow Feesa to take the blame. He admits that he knew they were Vagaari when they came aboard. It’s true he’s never seen one, but Jorj Car’das had and this is what they spoke about briefly after Jinzler was brought aboard.


The message had been sent to Admiral Parck to request Luke’s presence with enough leakage to be intercepted by the Vagaari. When Luke didn’t respond to the message, it was feared he wouldn’t come, so the Imperials were contacted.


Formbi goes on to explain that the Vagaari were gathering their strength again. They are a violent people who have a history of enslaving others. It is feared they are making alliances with those even more dangerous. However, Chiss doctrine will not allow a preemptive strike. Formbi knew that letting them aboard the Chaf Envoy would be risky, but he’d hoped they would be caught in a simple act of sabotage or theft. That would have been sufficient enough cause to retaliate. He did what he could to protect his people aboard the ship buth e had not expected such a huge attack. He blames himself for the deaths of his warriors here on the Dreadnaught.


Feesa knew about the plan, but General Drask did not. Drask admits he began to suspect much of it and wishes he’d been taken into Formbi’s confidence. However, it was Drask who was responsible for the falling cable. He just wanted to test their skills.


Evlyn appears and asks if Luke is alright. She is grateful that he saved her life. Mara points out that she did just as much to save them by taking the turbolift down at the right moment. She clearly has skills in the Force.


Rosemari pleads with her not to tell the others. Pressor explains that the original survivors have bad enough memories of the Jedi who were aboard the Flight that anyone who appears to be Force-sensitive is isolated in D-Three until it is proven one way or the other. Those determined to be Jedi are quarantined in D-Six where there is plenty of food and power to live comfortable lives, albeit lonely ones.


It’s only happened twice.


Rosemari asks if Mara can take Evlyn with her. Mara had hoped all of them would come but they will have to get to the Chaf Envoy first. Pressor confirms that the line creepers have damaged the blast doors that would allow them access to exit ports. There is no word at all from the Chiss ship. It is assumed all aboard are dead. Mara wonders if that’s what she and Luke had sensed aboard D-One.


She suggests they build a small caisson around one of the turbolift doors. She can get through the hull, climb up the pylon in a vac suit and get to the Chaf Envoy that way.


The lights start to flicker and it appears the few generators are being affected now. Jinzler gets an idea. He recommends they turns all the generators on at full power, shut down the main reactors, surround the generators with a moat of salt water and, when the line creepers are attracted to the only real source of power, they are shorted out in the water.


Sensing danger, Mara heads for the door and they hear shouting. Several people runtoward them and explain that the Vagaari in the turbolift are trying to break in. She doesn’t understand why they would come back.


They struggle to keep the door closed, but, when they open, Mara recognizes Captain Brast’alshi’barku. She welcomes him aboard, telling him she thought he’d never get here.

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chapter 23:


Talshib explains they never heard the Vagaari leave. They just left their vessel, scattered the line creepers and left. They had taken some of the special communicators with them and were able to send messages through the jamming.


The Chiss have rigged a sealant tent across the broken pylon. He doesn’t see the point of traveling from one dead ship to another, though. Drask thinks that Jinzler’s plan might work and they will be functional soon.


They watch a group of line creepers drop into the salt water and begin to die.


Evlyn asks if they are leaving after this. Jinzler says that the Chiss will send ships back to take all the survivors off. Evlyn knows that Uliar will find some way to imprison her. That she helped save people won’t matter. She wishes the boarding party had never come here. Jinzler asks if she would prefer to live her life pretending. She tells him a lot of people do, even him. He pretends to be an ambassador and keeps living the lie even though there’s no need.


Pressor tells him that Evlyn need not be ashamed of what she is but she should still be careful who knows it. He thinks they can persuade people that Uliar is wrong about Evlyn. After all, the only thing she was seen doing was pulling the comlink to her. They could easily say Jinzler did that due to some latent powers of his own that he didn’t know about. Being the brother of a Jedi would add credence to the story and it’s not like he hasn’t lied before.


Jinzler points out that he’s stuck here, just like they are. They don’t know whether or not the line creepers have caused permanent damage or if the Chaf Envoy is repairable. The Vagaari damaged all the ships in the docking bay and may hit the base on the way out of the Redoubt, so there might not be anyone to rescue them.


Evlyn points out that this solves her problem then. If no one can leave, putting her in Dreadnought Three means they’d have to put Luke and Mara there, too. Even if they could find a way to do that, it would mean that Evlyn would receive Jedi training and would not have to be afraid.


However, if they cannot leave, it would mean the Vagaari could attack the Chiss and cause more deaths. It’s important they be warned. Rosemari remembers her father showing her a Delta-Twelve Skysprite in D-Three’s docking bay. The Managing Council made him disable the hyperdrive ring in case one of the exiled Jedi escaped and tried to steal it.


Jinzler knows he can fix it. If he can, Mara says she can fly it. Evlyn is awed that he can fix something like that. For a moment, he is reminded of his sister. Pressor tells him that fixing a hyperdrive is impressive for an ambassador. Jinzler tells him he’s not one, just an electronics technician like his father.


When Luke wakes up, Mara tells him that there are still Chiss aboard the Chaf Envoy. Only the warriors in the D-One docking bay were killed by the Vagaari. The line creepers took care of the ships, though.


She tells him about Jinzler’s plan to get rid of the creeprs, plus reactivate the Skysprite. They will have to alert the Chiss about the Vagaari and their stolen warship.


Jinzler checks in to tell them they can leave as soon as they’re ready, then spots the lightsaber Luke found on the command deck. He explains it was Lorana’s.


Luke explains where he found it and that there’s no way to know how she died. He offers it to Jinzler. The brother would like it but will take it later, after it’s used to help defeat the people responsible for killing her.


The 501st are moved down to D-Six with the rest of the colony, Drask and Formbi are sent back to Chaf Envoy for specialized medical treatment.


On the way out of the Flight, Luke suggests they try to intercept the stolen Dreadnaught and take it back themselves. The Vagaari won’t be expecting it. He explains he threw his lightsaber into one of the D-Four turbolifts doors which opened it to space. If the blast doors are working, the whole lobby would be isolated from the rest of the ship. If they can fly this ship to what’s left of the pylon, they can go in, reseal the hole, repressurize and cut their way through some Vagaari soldiers.


Mara agrees but she’ll do the flying while he finishes healing.

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chapter 24:


When Luke wakes up, they have arrived at their stolen Dreadnaught. Mara reminds him that they may have proven to the dead Vagaari what they can do, but Bearsh may not have gotten the message. He thinks that they should offer the Vagaari a deal that will let them leave in their carrier under a Chiss escort. If not, they’ll have to fight.


Aboard the pylon, they find the turbolift and Luke’s lightsaber. Mara reseals the the hole and they repressurize the area. It does appear that the Vagaari are waiting for them when they open the blast doors. Luke closes the doors quickly and tells Mara there were explosive lining the halls, painted white to blend in.


She uses the Force to cause her lightsaber and a dead Vagaari body to levitate in a way that is a shaky walk. Luke does the same. The Vagaari bodies head down the corridor, the warriors quickly retreat and the explosives go off. Luke and Mara race down the hallway, battling Vagaari until the fight is over. Twelve more bodies lay at their feet, including Bearsh. It would appear their forces are not all that significant now.


They move through the ship, encountering a group of wolvkils with fragmentation grenades hanging from their bellies. They strategically retreat into a pumping station where Luke is going to cut open a door until Mara points out something else.


The Vagaari have had time to reseal that opening Luke had made. There are also repair droids all over the ship, but neither they nor the Vagaari did anything about it. This says to her that Etosh wanted a predictable way for the Jedi to enter the ship. He’s probably booby-trapped this whole section. Sure enough, they find a reactant fuel leak.


Luke cuts off a couple of pump doors and climbs up. He and Mara use the Force to levitate the covers beneath them and stay. Luke cuts open the pumping station door, the fuel floods out over the floor and he uses the Force to open the other door. The wolvkils in the other room begin howling. Mara fires a shot into the fuel and it ignites.


Surprisingly, the wolfkils are fast, but some of the Vagaari are not. After tossing their doors down and landing on them, the two Jedi decide to head to the command deck.


They fight their way to the deck with Mara thinking there had to be something aboard these ships that the Vagaari are planning to use against them. They find out when a fully-functional droideka rolls toward them.

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chapter 25:


Luke and Mara try outracing the machine, ambushing it with a blaster while it rolls and tosses large items at it with the Force. They are going to need greater fire power than their blasters. Mara explains that she can’t remember a single story of a Jedi actually taking out a shielded one of these. They don’t know for certain where it is now, but it’s probably guarding the deck doors.


Luke wonders where the organizers of the Flight got these things. He thought only the Trade Federation had them. Mara explains that the Federation was forced to be cooperative after the Naboo incident. Someone probably persuaded them to donate a few of these to the Flight to use as sentries for any established colonies. This would have been before the Trade Federation backed the Separatists during the Clone Wars.


She has a suspicion that droid technology is what the Vagaari are after. The Chiss don’t have them, so it’s possible the Vagaari don’t either. She reminds him how interested they were in the concept of battle droids.


Their original plan may have been to grab any working droids from Outbound Flight and sneak out. The fact that they got a working Dreadnaught is just a bonus.


Luke decides they are going to try a different tactic with the droideka. He steps in front of it and ignites his lightsaber. The droid starts firing at him and he deflects shots while moving back. It doesn’t pursue.


They’d hoped to have it chase one of them, but Mara points it that it knows there are two of them. Another Vagaari attack is launched that doesn’t last long before they return to the problem of the Destroyer Droid. Its shields go up too quickly if it sees an attack coming, it can fire while rolling and doesn’t stray more than two meters from its patrol area in front of the command deck.


This time, Luke tries the same thing. When the droid rolls toward them, stops two meters away and brings up its shields. This time, however, it does so without noticing Lorana Jinzler’s lightsaber lying on the floor, now withint its shields. Mara uses the Force to ignite the saber and slices it into the droid and it explodes. Luke feels guilty that the lightsaber is gone, too.


They can cut into the command deck now and spot a couple of Vagaari and their wolfkils. Luke reaches out with the Force, touching one of the creature’s nervous system. Then the two Vagaari are distracted by an audible moan coming from another direction. They follow that noise while Luke slips through the closing door to the bridge.

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Not much in the way. Although I just noticed the previous chapter has Mara commenting on how the Trade Federation was more cooperative after the blockade of Naboo. I guess...if you can call working in league with a Sith Lord cooperating. But, maybe, Mara doesn't know about that.

 

chapter 26:
The remaining Vagaari on the bridge are surprised to see the two Jedi. Luke and Mara fight some of them before confronting Etosh with the fact that his plan is doomed. They notice he is headed toward the helm while jabbering on about the actions of warriors. Luke smells a corrosive poison in the air. They let him punch coordinates into the helm.
When Etosh lifts his arms toward them and ejects a green spray, both Jedi jump away. The Vagaari are holding their breath now. Luke cuts the containers off the Vagaari’s sleeves and Mara’s tossed lightsaber cuts a hole in the transparisteel viewport. The air begins sucking the noxious cloud out. Luke starts to fly out, but stops himself in enough time to grab Mara’s lightsaber.
She pulls the oxygen lever and tosses a patch kit to Luke who seals the hole. The Vagaari are dead. Their fighters, however, are hitting the Chiss base. The Vagaari carrier is severely damaged. The heavy weaponry aboard the Dreadnaught was taken out by Thrawn decades ago.
Luke has an idea which his interrupted by Chiss fighters coming up on them. Mara wants to transmit a recorded message Formbi had given them in just such a situation, but Luke doesn’t want the Vagaari to pick up any transmissions.
He finds the anti-meteor laser cannon and fires it in the sequence of Drask’s emergency code prefix. The Chiss pilots get the message and launch only ineffective fire. In the meantime, the Vagaari pilots, thinking their comrades are aboard the Dreadnaught, move their ships to dock. Luke thinks they can send Formbi’s message now so that the station personnel can deliver the bad news to the Vagaari themselves.
The station commander thanks them for their assistance. They are mobilizing a strike force to hunt down the Vagaari’s location. Luke and Mara explain he can get the coordinates from the helm. They had allowed Etosh to program them in before doing anything because they suspected he was trying to deliver the Dreadnaught to his people. The bulk of the Vagarari warships are probably waiting there.
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chapter 27:


Jinzler is sad to learn Lorana’s lightsaber is gone for good but he is heartened that it was used to defend her people. The colonists are being forced off the Dreadnaughts, many of them unwillingly. However, they cannot stay here and the small group of boarders knows how hard it is to give up someplace one calls home regardless of how dismal it is.


Jinzler is going with Rosemari and Evlyn to the new colony within the Empire of the Hand. The colonists will not return to any government that has the word Republic in it or contains Jedi. Luke wishes Jinzler could persuade Rosemari to come with them. Evlyn won’t get any Jedi training where she will be living.


Jinzler thinks that Fel is actually hoping that will persuade Luke to side with the Empire of the Hand and establish an academy there. He says Fel wants Mara to know that Parck has reiterated his job offer to her. The young officer and General Drask have gone with the Chiss strike force to handle the Vagaari.


Neither man seems like one who doesn’t like to finish a mission. Jinzler doesn’t think he has that same follow through. They point out to him that he’s sticking with Rosemari and Evlyn. They’ll smoothe things over with Karrde after they get back.


By the time the Chaf Envoy reaches the Brask Oto station, the news has come back that the Vagaari had been taken by surprise and destroyed.


On the Jade Sabre, Luke asks Mara if she’s going to accept Parck’s offer. She thinks it would be amusing to see the reactions of those on Coruscant who’ve never really trusted her, but she will stay with Luke.


He tells her that he would go with her if she really needed to be there. She knows it would have been hard for them to leave his sister and everything else he fought for. She thinks she’s been fighting some kind of survivor’s guilt for having survived when many of the people she served with didn’t.


But Mara thinks her place is with the New Republic for now. She’s sorry he didn’t get the answers he was looking for. Luke thinks there must be some still aboard Outbound Flight. He’ll have to wait until he can go through it in detail. He does want to know what else has been bothering her, though.


Mara admits that the whole plot of Formbi’s to get them here to help draw out the Vagaari seems a little too much like Thrawn. After all, they destroyed a clone of his. There may be more.


He could have arranged this whole thing to get rid of a ton of troublemakers at once. Luke suggests maybe the Vagaari were far more dangerous than they know. They could be in contact with whatever the threat Parck is waiting for.


Which is troubling because he could have asked Formbi about it. Mara is glad they didn’t. She thinks, if Thrawn is still alive, he’s somehow on their side. If not, they’ll muddle through.


Luke agrees. As for muddling through, he has come to belief that the guidelines which constrained the old Jedi Order do not apply to his New Jedi Order. He and Mara will continue to walk in the Force together.

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The End


  • This was a nice follow-up to Outbound Flight. The colonists had originally wanted to leave the stagnant Republic and that opinion hasn't changed in the last 50 years, despite them being trapped on these ships. I do find it somewhat hard to believe that not a single one of them had rose-colored glasses after all these years. And their experience with the Jedi onboard the Flight certainly colored their views about them for a long time.


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