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"Darkest Knight": Book 5 in the Young Jedi Knights series


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chapter 1:

As Lowbacca traverses the trees on Yavin IV, he considers the dangers facing his younger sister, Sirrakuk, who will be undergoing her rite of passage soon. Times like these make him miss his family.

Meanwhile, Jacen Solo explains to his sister, Jaina, about the specimens he’s collected and how he needs her help making sure his crystal snake isn’t trying to find a way out of its cage again.

Lowbacca returns, but doesn’t want to talk to them or eat the way he should be. They assure him they are here when he’s ready to confide his problem to them.

Tenel Ka is practicing with her lightsaber under the supervision of Tionne who compliments her on her newfound precision. All activity is interrupted by the arrival of the [Millennium Falcon.

Though the twins are surprised to see it, Tenel Ka notes that Lowbacca doesn’t seem all that curious at all.
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chapter 2:

Han Solo is dressed quite differently than normal and the twins realize the ship looks odd, too. He says that there have been some problems in the Outer Rim and their mother wants him to take a look out there. It keeps him on his toes. Luke is going with him in order to continue keeping his Jedi skills in top shape.

Chewie and Lowie have some kind of family emergency back on Kashyyyk that Han is sure Lowie will tell them about soon.

In the meantime, he’s brought shield generators for the Jedi Academy and gifts for his children. After Jacen jokes about how Jawa have something no other species has, baby Jawas, they go inside for a look.

Anakin Solo has sent Tenel Ka a recording of him practicing braiding yarn with one hand. He thought she might be able to use some of this to be able to braid her hair. He also shows the finished result on his mother.

Lowie appears. Em Teedee explains that the Wookiee is sorry he’s concerned them. The droid translates that Lowie’s sister, Sirrakuk, is about to undergo the Wookie Rite of Passage ceremony. This is normally dangerous anyway, but Lowie is afraid that Sirra will be inspired both by his example and by her friend Raabakyysh.

As a potential Jedi trainee, Lowie had insisted on doing his Rite of Passage himself. Raaba had been Sirra’s close friend and a potential romantic interest for Lowie. Feeling she should follow Lowie’s example to prove that she was worthy to be the mate of a Jedi, she went out alone, too. Unfortunately, Raaba has not returned.

The loss of her friend made Sirra more reckless and she intended to go it alone, too. Lowie sent a message awhile ago asking her to allow him to accompany her. She has accepted, but he’s still concerned. For one, it will be painful returning to Kashyyyk knowing that Raaba isn’t there. Secondly, his pain may make it difficult for him to concentrate on helping Sirra.

Jacen, Jaina and Tenel Ka all volunteer to come support him.

Knowing his children would want to help their friend, Han has already cleared it with their mother. They say good-bye to their father and uncle.
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  • This is a good time to point out something that we haven’t covered yet. The time is still about 23 years ABY. Luke has been married for a few years. Yet, we’ve not read any mention of his wife, Mara Jade, at all. In fact, Luke is running off with Han to the Outer Rim as if he has nothing keeping him here. Of course, we know that the YJK books were written before Vision of the Future.
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chapter 3:

Chewbacca and the students board the Shadow Chaser for Kashyyyk. Along the way, Jacen tries to explain to Tenel Ka why jokes are funny and how to understand humor.

Failing that, he picks up the sense of a creature aboard the ship. Exploring, he finds a small rodent that has built a nest out of components that they need for the ship. He goes to tell Jaina and Lowie that they may have to make repairs when the ship slams to a stop as though it’s hit something.

It turns out they’ve hit an ion storm which wouldn’t be as serious if the rodent hadn’t chewed through the ion shield generator. It can be fixed, but the navicomputer has been wiped and they don’t have coordinates anymore.

Fortunately, Chewbacca and Lowie have the coordinates to their homeworld memorized.
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chapter 4:

Zekk knows that Norys resents the attention he’s getting. Brakiss presents a dark cape to Zekk for proving he is the most able student at the Shadow Academy. He is now getting an assignment. He will lead a raid on Kashyyyk to infiltrate a fabrication facility and retrieve guidance and tactical systems.

He will be commanding troops and utilizing new holographic disguise technology. Tamith Kai also informs him that Qorl intercepted a message from Jacen and Jaina Solo to their mother. They are going to Kashyyyk, as well. This is a good time to end their meddling in the affairs of the Second Imperium.

Zekk has been their friend for many years, but he knows the Imperium has given him a chance to better himself. He agrees to go.

Tamith Kai tells Garowyn and Vonnda Ra that she does not trust Zekk, despite his obvious skill in the Force. That is one reason why she also assigned him the task of ridding them of the Solo twins. They will see if he is still clinging to his friendship with them.

Garowyn believes this is a good opportunity to get the Shadow Chaser back. She’s been eager to reclaim the ship stolen by Luke Skywalker and that Dathomiri girl.
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chapter 5:

The Shadow Chaser lands on Kashyyyk where Lowbacca is reunited with his family.

Dinner is handled in the Wookiee fashion, though Jaina has Em Teedee hooked up to the ship to help with repairs, so translating is difficult.

The damage is extensive, but they can get parts at the fabrication plant where Lowie’s parents work. They decide to move the ship closer to Lowie’s home so they can make the repairs more easily.
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chapter 6:

Lowie is concerned about his sister’s downtrodden demeanor. She seems to have lost a zeal for life. He worries that she blames him for Raaba’s death.

While they walk and talk, the others practice their Jedi skills. Sirra doesn’t think they’ll last long at the forest bottom if they are so loose with their powers. He presses her for some way to help and she tells him she isn’t asking for help.

He realizes that his just being here and listening is all she wants.
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chapter 7:

The next day, they ride to the fabrication facility and stop to watch refurbished Y-Wings launch. They are given a tour of the plant by a droid which explains the extra shifts needed to prepare for a conflict with the Second Imperium.

Chewbacca and Lowie’s father, Mahraccor, have found components necessary to fix the Shadow Chaser.
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chapter 8:

Qorl tells Brakiss that a high-level transmission is being received for him. Brakiss takes it and confides in Qorl that the Emperor is coming for a visit.

Brakiss neither knows nor cares how Palpatine managed to survive when he was reported dead. When the shuttle arrives, he has an honor guard waiting. The shuttle projects a message that the Emperor will disembark alone.

Brakiss recalls the honor guards, but Norys wants to stay. Not willing to tolerate this ambitious stormtrooper right now, Brakiss dismisses him quickly. He leaves the docking bay and watches on a monitor the Royal Guardsmen appear with an isolation tank.

He approaches the Guardsmen who tell him they have work to do. He expresses his chagrin that he is the master of the Shadow Academy, after all. They point out that Palpatine is master of the galaxy.

Feeling shunned and insignificant, Brakiss is also concerned that there may something wrong with the Emperor. That could affect the success of the Second Imperium.
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chapter 9:

Tionne approaches the three trainees and tells them Master Skywalker wants her to pick up on their lightsaber training. Along the way, Jacen jokes with Jaina that a droid mechanic is never lonely because he’s always making new friends.

Jaina cannot concentrate on her practice because she cannot forget the colors of the saber which remind her of others. The violet of Tamith Kai’s eyes, the emerald of Zekk’s who’s now training with Brakiss, the bronze of Tenel Ka’s hair. She abruptly stops.

Tionne sits them down and tells them the story of Nomi Sunrider who abandoned the lightsaber after killing the bandits who murdered her husband. She was later forced to use it to protect her daughter and master.

One doesn’t have to be eager in order to use a lightsaber, but only to understand the need to use it sometimes. Jaina begins to understand, but Tionne decides that this is enough practice for one day.
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chapter 10:

Tenel Ka finds the doctors on Hapes meddlesome. She allows herself to be fitted with a biomechanical arm, but cannot help but consider how alien it feels. Luke Skywalker has a prosthetic hand, so it’s not that she considers it a weakness.

However, she has allowed everyone else to make decisions for her since arriving here. She tells the doctors that she will not have a prosthetic and hurls it off when they persist in pushing it on her.
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chapter 11:

Having stunned four Wookiee workers, Zekk’s infiltration team uses the holographic technology to get inside the fabrication plant. Tamith Kai and Vonnda Ra are with him. Vonnda Ra disables the orbital defense systems.

Tamith Kai suggests he send the signal to lure the Jedi here. Zekk pauses and decides on the right wording that will intrigue and convince them to come.

His friends are in Lowie’s home playing a game recreating the original Death Star run. Sirra laughs at Jacen’s joke about how Whiphids say, “Ouch” when they kiss

A message comes through, fragmented, indicating an emergency has occurred at the fabrication plant. Jaina and Chewbacca are working on the ship, but Lowie and Sirra’s parents are at the plant.

While they head off to the rescue, TIE Fighters emerge from a shuttle in space and head down to the planet.

The tour droid has just finished insisting there’s no emergency when Jacen spots the TIEs coming down.
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chapter 12:

Chewie and Jaina are still working and considering stopping for food when they see the TIEs. They run to get help when they hear a noise. A Nightsister is inside the Shadow Chaser.

Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t get far because Chewie has already removed the primary initiator module.

Garowyn departs the ship and asks why they aren’t at the plant with the others. Jaina and Chewie have no idea why anyone would be there. Garowyn starts using the Force to hurl objects at them, demanding they fix the ship. Chewie tosses heavy objects right back while Jaina tries to dodge the other ones.

She tells Garowyn that it was damaged in an ion storm. Chewie jumps onto the hull of the Shadow Chaser, grabs a toolkit and starts throwing those. Garowyn uses Force lightning on him. Jaina responds with a shove through the Force which pushes Garowyn through the docking bay doors. She uses her momentum and the Force to escape onto a speeder bike.

Chewie leaps onto the bike, grabbing a pipe, causing it to crash. Garowyn leaps onto a veranda and prepares to toss more lightning when Jaina uses the Force to stir up the sound of leaves between Garowyn who thinks there’s an attack coming behind her. She turns and loses her footing, hitting her head on a tree branch going down.
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chapter 13:

The tour droid takes the group to the perimeter guns which look exactly like the Falcon’s gun wells. The two Wookiees are going to find where the breakdown in the planetary defenses occurred.

Jacen and Tenel Ka take the guns and fire until Wookiees enter the room. Em Teedee explains that Lowie and Sirra have determined the problem to be in the traffic tower. They should leave the shooting to the newly arrived gunners and go to the tower to fix the major problem.

Barricaded in the tower, Zekk and his team hear the sounds of Wookiee engineers trying to break down the door. Tamith Kai suggests they open the door, spill the Wookiees in and take care of the noise that way. The stormtrooper does just that before Zekk can assert his authority, killing the spilled Wookiees.

Vonnda Ra reports that the young Jedi students are coming. Zekk leaves Tamith Kai with the stormtrooper to retrieve the computer systems while he will go with Vonnda to take care of the Jedi.

They encounter Jacen, Tenel Ka and the two young Wookiees in the corridor. Vonnda Ra is about to hurl Force lightning at them when Zekk shoves her out of the way. Stormtroopers begin landing near the plant and enter.

Tenel Ka throws a metal pipe at Vonnda before the three Jedi and Sirra head down maintendence trapdoors and into the forest’s underbelly. It’s a treacherous place, so it looks like Sirra will get her adventure, after all.

Zekk, Vonnda and the stormtroopers follow.
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chapter 14:

Fuming at the indignity of continued refusals for an audience with the Emperor, Brakiss decides he’s going to demand one.
Royal Guardsmen stand at the chamber door. They reiterate that the Emperor will not see him. Brakiss explains that he is tired of being treated this way. He has no idea if the Emperor is sick or if he’s being held hostage. He will not leave until they allow him to speak with Palpatine.

Through a comm. system, the Emperor advises him that he is overstepping his bounds. Palpatine has the power to destroy the entire station if he so desires. Brakiss knows this but reminds him that he cannot advise the Emperor if he never sees him.

The Emperor tells him he’s an expendable servant. He will leave his quarters when he wishes and Brakiss is not to try to speak with him again.

Feeling worse than before, Brakiss storms off.
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chapter 15:

Stunned by the fall of Garowyn, Jaina barely understands that Chewie wants to drive the speeder bike. They ride together to the fabrication plant.

They find Lowie’s and Sirra’s parents there. They explain that the Imperials seemed to want some of the computer systems and other components. They are tending the injured. One of them claims to have seen the two humans and two young Wookies being chased. They would not be able to get out by conventional means, but points out the trapdoors that lead into the jungle.

Chewie pulls out a couple of emergency kits and leads Jaina down one.
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chapter 16:

Down in the lower levels of Kashyyyk, the party evades blasterfire from Imperial stormtroopers. Sirra sees the prized syren plant, knowing that bringing that back would prove her bravery.

Lowie reminds her they have greater priorities right now.

Tenel Ka is in her element, running among the trees, until she is grasped by tentacled vines. She, Jacen and Lowie use their lightsabers to free her, but the light and the noise leads the stormtroopers right to them.

Jacen can sense the creatures around him. He sees a mottled long nearby a stormtrooper. When Zekk explains that he is sorry it’s come to this, but he has chosen this life, the stormtrooper begins to move in order to get a clear shot.

Jacen wills the trooper to move one more step. He lands right on the tongue which cause a huge slug to rear up, knocking troopers everywhere.

Tenel Ka uses the diversion to wrap a vine around her and Jacen, following the two Wookiees further down into the jungle.
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chapter 17:

Jaina and Chewie follow the scent down into the jungle, finding the scene of ozone indicative of blaster fire.

They follow the scent to the bough of a wroshyr tree. Hearing the bough creak, Chewie moves Jaina back to a safer spot. Hearing more blasterfire, he moves forward and the rotting branch cracks underneath him, dropping him.
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chapter 18:

It had taken everything they had to fight the beast, now only four stormtroopers are left. Zekk can sense two presences nearby and knows one of them is Jaina.

He sends Vonnda Ra ahead to search for the others, while he stays to handle Jaina.

Jacen thinks wandering the beautiful jungle during the evening with Tenel Ka is exhilarating until they are interrupted by a light revealing four stormtroopers on a tree branch. They are taken care of quickly when Tenel Ka uses her lightsaber to cut the branch.

Lowie and Sirra are hiding when they are attacked by Vonnda Ra who begins to generate Force lightning. Sirra lunges at her and they fall directly onto a deadly syren plant. Lowie jumps down and grasps the plant to try to save his sister from being ingested.

Tenel Ka and Jacen join him. Inside the plant, Vonnda Ra generates her power which causes the plant to convulse. The brief opening allows them to pull Sirra out but it’s not enough to free Vonnda Ra.

Sirra shows her fibers from the syren plant triumphantly.
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chapter 19:

Jaina calls for Chewie. Though still alive, he has a fractured leg. The Kashyyyk jungle is dangerous for Wookiees anyway, much less an injured one. She doesn’t know how to get herself and him back to safety while still helping the others.

She follows his voice and finds him with a broken leg. Sending out a mental call for help through the Force, she is surprised to be greeted by Zekk. He tells her he doesn’t want to hurt her, but she has to stay away from the Jedi Academy.

In honor of their past friendship, he’ll leave her unimpeded this time. He uses the Force to extinguish their light and vanishes.
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chapter 20:

Jaina calls for help and is soon joined by Jacen, Tenel Ka, Lowie and Sirra. She tells them what Zekk said. They work on getting Chewie in a position to be carried back topside so they can return to the academy and stop the Second Imperium.
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chapter 21:

Tamith Kai blames Zekk for the deaths of her fellow Nightsisters. When they land at the Shadow Academy, Zekk reports that they had the loss of equipment, troops and the two sisters.

Brakiss is more concerned with the equipment raid which was successful. He doesn’t care about the incidental deaths. Tamith Kai seethes and says she has seen no evidence that the young Jedi are no longer going to be an issue.

Zekk insists he took care of them.

Brakiss praises him for being an instrument of the Second Imperium. Norys shifts unhappily. Qorl doesn’t look thrilled with his new trainee.

Then the visage of Palpatine appears and tells them of their successful raids. He announces that, with their new battle fleet fitted with the stolen equipment, they will be launching a strike against the heart of the New Republic: Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy.
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chapter 22:

The New Republic sends technicians to help repair the fabrication plant. After working on the ship, Lowie and Jaina prepare to lift off to return to Yavin IV.

Sirra hugs her brother good-bye, Jacen loads his pets and a message is sent to warn Master Skywalker, who has returned from his mission with their father, to prepare for an attack.
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End of Book 5
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