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"Jedi Bounty": Book 9 in the Young Jedi Knights series

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chapter 1:

On Yavin IV, Jacen, Jaina, Tenel Ka and Raynar sit around a campfire and miss their friend, Lowbacca. The Wookiee left several weeks ago with his friend, Raaba, and sister, Sirra, and hasn’t even contacted them. They worry that he has decided to join the Diversity Alliance.

Tenel Ka suggests that he may be prevented from contacting them or even returning to the academy. Ryloth will not allow them to speak to him when they get a connection through. Jaina suggests they go there in person.

They are attacked by a predator called a rakhmar which gashes Raynar’s leg before being cut to pieces by the lightsabers of the others. Em Teedee suggests one of them go back to the Temple for assistance.

Lusa appears and explains that she has a message. Tenel Ka’s grandmother is in orbit and the protective forces won’t let her down. When she found out that Master Skywalker isn’t here, she demanded to see Tenel Ka instead. She’ll be landing soon.

Lusa offers to carry Raynar back.

Ta’a Chume tells her granddaughter that her spies have uncovered information that makes the Diversity Alliance as devious as the Hapan Court. They seem to be more devoted to their hatred of humans than of any kind of unity among aliens.

Furthermore, the headquarters on Ryloth has been the beneficiary of the profits from ryll spice for the last two years. Ryll is the most lucrative of all spice. Those funds have been used to purchase weapons, hire bounty hunters and pay assasssins.

Apparently, leaving the Diversity Alliance is more dangerous than opposing it outright.

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chapter 2:

In the infirmary, Lusa patches Raynar up, having become a medic while in the Diversity Alliance. They are interrupted by the arrival of a New Republic soldier, a Bothan, who claims to be looking for the hangar bay.

Em Teedee offers to take him there.

Jacen turns to Lusa and explains that they need some more information about the Diversity Alliance. They are planning to go to Ryloth to find Lowie. Lusa tells them that they won’t get anywhere. At best, the Alliance won’t even admit them.

She’s also concerned about assassins that are sent after those nonhumans who are believed to have betrayed them. One of her friends tried to quit and disappeared. A few days later, Nolaa Tarkona invited her most loyal followers to a banquet which was followed by a demonstration. Her friend was dragged in and the adjutant Hovrak killed and ate him in front of everyone.

This is one of the reasons she came here with Master Skywalker. The Jedi Academy can provide her with protection. If Lowie has joined them, he may not be able to return. If he hasn’t, Nolaa Tarkona may not see it that way and brand him a traitor once he rejects her teachings.
  • Aren’t there medical droids in the infirmary?
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chapter 3:

Though impressed with the layout and the resources of the Diversity Alliance, Lowie is not sure. He doesn’t think much of the attitudes here, though he knows Raaba is trying to encourage them both to join. He knows that Sirra may very well do so, but Lowie can only see that they have no real way off Ryloth. If he asks to leave, Raaba will probably find excuses to keep him here.

Tarkona’s adjutant, Hovrak, watches them and suggests that Sirra might want to learn how to pilot one of the modern star skimmers. If she does well, she could pilot for the Diversity Alliance and perhaps get her own skimmer.

Lowie knows that he will not be able to get his sister to leave now.

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chapter 4:

Lusa thinks they should clear their trip with Master Skywalker or Tionne first before leaving. Raynar reminds her that Jacen and Jaina believe that either of the teachers would contact the Chief of State and turn this into a diplomatic incident. Lowie doesn’t need to be a pawn.

Lusa believes that the Chief of State should be told anyway since she is their mother. The Diversity Alliance is very dangerous. Even she didn’t realize that until she’d been with them a couple of years. The New Republic probably should take action.

As it is, she doesn’t know what to tell Tionne if asked where her friends are. She cannot lie. Furthermore, Raynar is still recovering from his leg injury and shouldn’t be going at all.

The others appear and report the ship is ready. Raynar asks what Lusa should tell Tionne. Jaina thinks she’ll have to stall for a few days. They have to do what they can to get Lowie out, then they can tell her mother.

Tenel Ka suggests that she tell Tionne that Ta’a Chume arrived with news of a conspiracy and the four of them have gone to investigate. That is true.

Lusa knows Tionne will assume they are on Hapes, which doesn’t make her comfortable, but she agrees to provide that story.
  • The twins are between 14 and 15 years old. I doubt Raynar and Tenel Ka are any older. Do the young Jedi trainees really get to just up and go investigate things without clearing it with their teachers first? I cannot imagine Tionne not contacting Hapes immediately to find out why four of her teenage students are being asked to investigate a conspiracy. It’s not like Hapes isn’t a dangerous place either.
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chapter 5:

In the Lightning Rod, Zekk continues his search for Bornan Thul. The bounty placed upon him by Nolaa Tarkona has increased. He knows he shouldn’t be doing this anyway, but he needs practice as a bounty hunter and knows that it might be better for him to find Thul than another.

The moral quandaries he finds himself in now are disturbing. This is one of the reasons he hasn’t taken up Master Skywalker’s offer to train at the Academy. He needs to be sure he wants to be a Jedi.

An encrypted distress signal comes in. He recognizes the code as being similar to the one that Bornan Thul used when under the pseudonym of Master Wary. A second transmission comes in from the bounty hunter, Dengar, who warns Zekk off of pursuing this.

They fire on each other, Zekk finally neutralizing The Punishing One’s starboard engine and taking off the communications dish. Thul laments hiring Zekk in the first place. Bounty Hunters are only after profit and he has information that could cause ruin for the galaxy. His ship is damaged and he doesn’t know what he’s going to do now.

Zekk insists he’s not taking Thul in. He explains that Fonterrat is dead and he knows all about the navicomputer that Bornan didn’t deliver to Nolaa Tarkona as agreed. Fonterrat died on Gammalin after spreading a plague through the colony without realizing it.

Dengar creates problems by starting to fire again, giving Thul time to limp off in his own ship. Then Slave IV shows up. Knowing he cannot battle both Dengar and Boba Fett, Zekk escapes into hyperspace.

Fortunately, he’d borrowed a trick from Dengar and planted a tracer on Thul’s ship.

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chapter 6:

Getting to Ryloth is easy, but into Tarkona’s tunnels will be more challenging. There are anumber of industrial ships in orbit that are related to the mining of ryll spice. Raynar explains the importance of the spice that was used to treat the Krytos virus.

While business on Ryloth is normally done in secret, Nolaa Tarkona doesn’t seem to be keeping a low profile here. They decide to hide the Rock Dragon in the shadow of one of the ore haulers and slip in with it.

Unfortunately, Hovrak is more vigilant than most and spots the small craft attached to the side of one of the cargo bays when he goes to inspect the ships. He alerts the guards who break into the ship and find it empty.

They decide they’ll utilize the ship themselves for the Diversity Alliance.

In the cargo hatch of one of the holding bays, the four Jedi and Em Teedee pop out. They just have to find Lowie.
  • According to Tenel Ka in the last book, her ship will seal up and fly to Hapes if the proper authorization codes aren’t entered. I assume that will happen if the Diversity Alliance tries to use it, right?
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chapter 7:

Hovrak tells Tarkona that he’s having a mechanic fly the ship someplace where they can look it over. She agrees that this craft suddenly appearing looking suspicious. They enter the small craft hangar where a Sullustan is landing the ship.

Tarkona frets that they haven’t found Bornan Thul yet. Despite a huge bounty and the best hunters in the galaxy looking, he continues to elude her. She orders a data check on the vessel to make sure it has nothing to do with Thul.

Corrsk is irritated because he smells Wookiee and this ship is a human one. Tarkona knows the three Wookiee friends were working in here earlier and assume Hovrak is smelling that. She warns him to get past his primal desires to hunt Wookiees.

In her office, she receives a transmission from Boba Fett who tells her that two of them found Bornan Thul who escaped with the assistance of a new bounty hunter on the scene named Zekk.

Corrsk climbs aboard the Rock Dragon and looks it over. It’s been too long since the Trandoshan killed. He can smell human, but he can also smell Wookiee. That new one, Lowbacca, has been on this ship. Corrsk wonders what treachery he’s planned.
  • I’m guessing then that Tenel Ka did not enable the authorization code requirement for her ship as the Sullustan was not transported to the high-security hangar on Hapes.
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chapter 8:

Tenel Ka leads them through the tunnels, hoping they are not seen because they would have to use their lightsabers and try to make it back to the Rock Dragon.

Raaba knows that Sirra is happy at the opportunities provided here, but that she has not managed to convince Lowie. In the hangar bay, though, Raaba recognizes one of the ships as the Rock Dragon, a vessel owned by one of Lowie’s human friends.

Fearing that there are spies here who may try to abduct Lowie, Raaba goes to Hovrak who knew there had to be something else wrong about that ship. He increases security and suggests they keep Lowbacca distracted.

Jaina follows the Force to find Lowie but Hovrak, a Trandoshan and several Abyssin confront them. They are warned not to use their lightsabers or they will be cut down where they stand.

Jacen urges Raaba to help them talk to Lowie but she doesn’t answer. They are dragged off.

Sensing an uneasiness in the Force, Lowie looks around and thinks he sees shadows nearby. He turns his concentration back on his work so he won’t keep missing his friends.
  • The chapter explains that the four Jedi would not be able to coordinate their attack in these tunnels against so many blaster bolts. Why not? Have the four of them never fought greater numbers before? I seem to recall them fighting assassin droids and combat arachnids at the same time on Kuar.
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chapter 9:

They are taken to Nolaa Tarkona who accuses them of spying or trying to sabotage the computer systems. They insist they only wanted to speak with Lowie. Prevailing upon Raaba, Jacen urges her to admit they know Lowbacca.

Raaba confesses that she does know these humans who are Jedi trainees from Yavin IV and former friends of Lowbacca. Hovrak and Corrsk want to kill and eat them, but Raaba tells Tarkona that may not be wise. These prisoners are too valuable. The twins are the children of the Chief of State of the New Republic, the other girl is the daughter of the ruling family of the Hapes Cluster and the boy is the son of Bornan Thul, the very man Tarkona has been trying to find.

She will not kill them yet, but will not let them speak with Lowbacca. For the time being, they are taken down into the spice mines to labor.

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chapter 10:

Zekk waits in space and thinks. He knows that Bornan Thul has a navicomputer that Nolaa Tarkona seems to want, but he cannot figure out why.

Thinking back, he remembers Thul telling him that all humans in the galaxy would be threatened. Fonterrat’s message mentioned two samples that he’d given Nolaa Tarkona and then he’d gone to Gammalin and destroyed the whole colony with a plague.

Zekk believes that the navicomputer might hold the location of where Fonterrat found the plague samples. He decides to go to Yavin IV and speak with Raynar.

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chapter 11:

The four Jedi are pushed into a mining cart and taken down into the mines. Jaina and Raynar are put to work breaking stone, while Jacen and Tenel Ka are sent up to harvest rock spikes.

Raynar is not used to hard physical work, but, even though Jaina is, she is soon aching. This is what they get for telling no one where they were going. Lusa promised to tell no one and it may be some time before she changes her mind.

Tenel Ka and Jacen work above in the stalactites. The warrior girl glares at Raaba who watches them, speaking to no one.

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chapter 12:

Zekk lands on Yavin IV, excited to see Jaina and Jacen again. As he approaches the restored Great Temple, he gets a strange feeling. There are no familiar faces here, but he does notice the New Republic military presence. He is responsible for that, knowing that Master Skywalker really doesn’t want them here.

He is surprised to be met by Luke himself who only recently returned. He’d thought all the fires in the galaxy had been put out, but he’s had to send Tionne and Artoo out already.

Zekk explains he needs to speak with Raynar Thul about his father. Luke tells him that Raynar left with Jacen, Jaina and Tenel Ka a few days ago after the latter received disturbing news from home. Presumably, they are either on Hapes or Dathomir, but he can’t be sure because Tionne gave him the message and he doesn’t think she spoke to them directly.

He suggests Zekk speak with Lusa who had become close with all of them lately and may know more.

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chapter 13:

Lowie is in his comfortable quarters thinking about the way the Diversity Alliance camoulages itself. Feeling restless, he vents his frustration on the walls. Deciding he doesn’t need friends who cannot accept the ones he already has, he feels more like himself than he has in days.

Sirra chimes his door and asks for his advice with a Hapan craft that they’ve found. She’s hoping that Hovrak will let her keep it.

He is shocked to recognize the Rock Dragon. After confirming with Sirra that Raaba knew this was here, he goes to have a talk with his friend.

He confronts her about not telling him the Rock Dragon was here when she surely knew what it was. She admits that his friends are here, probably intending to spirit him away. He demands to know why their ship is still. He asks if Tarkona sent them away.

Raaba explains that Tarkona can’t just let them go. Lowie yells that he has not joined the Diversity Alliance. His friends came for him, not Tarkona, and she has no right to imprison them. He demands to see them now.

They are in the spice mines. Lowie points out that being cruel to humans does not make up for cruelty inflicted by humans. It just proves that humans are not the only species capable of cruelty. He is going to help them and Raaba should not try to stop him.

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chapter 14:

As Lowie uses the computer to break into Diversity Alliance files, he fumes over how they have built up an organization founded on deceptions. All the while his friends have been enslaved, his friend, Raaba, had been trying to convince him to join the Alliance.

He’d been so happy to see her, now he wishes he’d never left Yavin IV.

He breaks into a vault and steals the lightsabers and Em Teedee back, then goes to find the others. He marches down into the tunnels and Em Teedee translates that Nolaa Tarkona wants the four new prisoners brought to her at once because she’s going to make a ransom demand. They browbeat the supervisor into not checking with Hovrak first because these orders come from Tarkona herself.

He brings them into the turbolift and tells them he cannot stay here any more. They warn him that Tarkona may not let him go. Corrsk watches the entiere incident, but doesn’t sound an alarm, even though he knows Tarkona didn’t request the prisoners at all. It’s time for him to go on the hunt.
  • Long-time readers know of my annoyance of incidents in which an underling is threatened with the disapproval of their boss if they delay in obeying questionable or unexpected orders. This is what poor training and ruling by fear produces...people who wish your organization harm being able to get into places they shouldn't be able to.
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chapter 15:

Lowbacca had arranged for the computer system to activate an alarm reporting a toxic gas leak. Emergency crews will head there while this group makes its escape.

He gives them their weapons and tells them he’s going for the Rock Dragon. He will not leave his sister here alone.

The others begin a slow climb up a passage that leads into the mountain when the alarms goes off. Tarkona’s voice announces that there was no gas spill and that four human prisoners have escaped.

They run faster, finding a weapons alcove. Jaina gets an idea and tosses a thermal detonator into it. The explosion brings down rocks that cut her off from Jacen and Tenel Ka.

She and Raynar head away from the explosion before the guards converge on that spot. They find a passage to the outside, but it leads to the blasting sunlit side of Ryloth. They decide to ty to hide in the shadows of this area and leave the cool tunnels behind.

Jacen and Tenel Ka find themselves on a glacial landscape on the darkside of the planet.

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chapter 16:

Lusa swims and tries not to think about the tingling feeling that signifies her friends are in danger.

She sees a New Republic guard nearby and remembers the same Bothan who entered the infirmary a few days ago. She starts to swim for shore, but is stopped by an explosion generated by something the guard throws at her.

She is thrown backward, willing her legs to kick, but cannot feel them. She flails in the water until the guard pulls her up and tells her she won’t die peacefully. No one who betrays the Diversity Alliance does.

He pulls a vibroblade. She moves her head to gore his arm with her horn. He exclaims in pain, drops her and she is sure she will drown until a strong arm grabs her. She sees the Bothan struggling in the air. Master Skywalker holds her and a strange young man restrains the Bothan.

After returning to the Temple, Luke sends a message to his sister about the incident and turns the prisoner over to a few guards he knows well. Neither Lusa nor Zekk trust each other, but Luke points out that they both have darkness in their past that they have overcome. Both are strong enough in the Force to be able to sense if the other is lying.

He tells them that Tionne, who is not fully human, went to investigate some musicians who are using their engagements as a cover to smuggle weapons for the Diversity Alliance.

Zekk tells them about his suspicions that Bornan Thul has information that would lead Nolaa Tarkona to the means to spread a deadly plague among the human population of the galaxy. Lusa knows nothing about a plague, but she has no doubt that Nolaa Tarkona wants powerful weapons.

Since it’s been proven now that the Diversity Alliance has agents within the New Republic, Thul probably didn’t want to risk turning the information over to them. Luke’s sister has agreed not to spread the word of the danger yet to prevent conflict from breaking out between the human and non-human species that make up the New Republic.

Zekk came here to see if he can get Raynar to convince his father to let them help him. Lusa admits that she is worried about Raynar and the others. They made her promise to keep their trip a secret but they’ve gone to Ryloth to rescue Lowbacca.

Since Tionne has the Shadow Chaser, Luke will go with Zekk in the Lightning Rod. Since Lusa isn’t any safer on Yavin IV, she decides to go with them.

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chapter 17:

Jacen and Tenel Ka huddle together in a cave for warmth. They cannot go back into the tunnels for fear of being recaptured. Tenel Ka suggests they walk through the frozen wilderness to where Lowie told them to meet him.

They begin heading toward a pass that should lead them to the moderate zone.

They endure extreme cold, fatigue, injuries and heat storms before taking shelter in another cave. That’s when Tenel Ka senses they are not alone.

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chapter 18:

Lowie and Sirra walk through the small-craft bay to the Rock Dragon. He had explained how this ship belonged to his friends and that Em Teedee is proof they came here. They find that cargo boxes marked food or medicinal supplies intended for downtrodden worlds actually contain weapons.

When the sirens stop, however, and they hear Tarkona’s announcement, they know they don’t have much time. They are confronted by Corrsk. Lowie has Sirra run for the Rock Dragon. She won’t be able to fly it without the access codes, but she can at least prepare it for flight.

Lowie battles Corrsk with his lightsaber while the Trandoshan uses his blaster cannon. The saber deflects the blast into the ceiling which falls in on Corrsk. Lowie rushes to the ship and begins entering access codes.

The Rock Dragon takes off through closing blast doors and into the sky.

Corrsk bursts through the avalanche of rock and gets the urge to kill someone.
  • Of course, Lowie should be able to fly the ship since he has the access codes, right?
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chapter 19:

Jaina and Raynar makes their way through the scorching heat of Ryloth’s dayside. They hope the others made it out. Crawling into a deep alcove to rest and stay cool, they decide to wait until they can figure out what to do.

Hovrak had followed the smell of humans up here to the daylight side. Some Twil’leks had been exiled here but no one goes out voluntarily. The humans might have died by now, but he will not assume that until he sees their bodies.

He and his team don environmnental suits and head out to find the escapees.

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chapter 20:

Jacen and Tenel Ka encounter an old Twi’lek man who believes they’ve been sent to kill him. His name is Kur and he was exiled here to the cold landscape after being unable to follow his clan into the Bright Lands.

When a clan is defeated, the five leaders are sent into the dayside where they are meant to die, but Nolaa Tarkona sent him here. He has lived under the generator stations that provide power for the caves below since that time.

He offers Tenel Ka a thin blanket to cover her bare arms and legs. He had found a rylcrit that had wandered out here. After it died, Kur had fed on it and used the bones and hide to help himself.

Jacen asks him how Nolaa Tarkona took over here. He has seen very few Twi’leks among her followers. Even her non-Twil’lek followers are so numerous that he doesn’t understand how she maintains control over them.

Kur tells them that Twi’leks battle through deceit and tricks, but Tarkona didn’t do that. She came here with an army that overthrew the clan leaders. She killed some, enslaved others and sent the rest out to the Bright Lands. Except for him.

They ask if he can take them to the temperate zone. He must know where it is. They have their lightsabers to use as signals for their friend who is coming for them. He tells them to wait until the heat storm is over. They will probably still freeze to death out there but the residue of the storm will leave some warmth left for a time.

Out in the wilderness, they support each other. Tenel Ka tells Jacen that Master Skywalker once described techniques a Jedi could use to battle cold or heat. Jacen reminds her that Kur doesn’t know how to use them.

They struggle along until Kur is slumped over. They ignite their lightsabers for light and sense the approach of a ship. It’s the Rock Dragon. They bring Kur aboard it and relish in the warmth.
  • Though they do talk about using the Jedi techniques, there is no evidence that either Jacen or Tenel Ka actually used them to warm their bodies.
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chapter 21:

Jaina, being the only one with a lightsaber, is forced to deflect blaster bolts sent by Hovrak and his search party. He taunts them by telling them that the Emperor’s plague will take care of every human in the galaxy soon.

Deflected bolts and rocks hurled by Raynar take care of some of the guards until only two are left. But she and Raynar are trapped against a path with nowhere to go.

Meanwhile, the Lightning Rod is challenged by Diversity Alliance ships when they approach Ryloth. Zekk hits the sentry cruisers in the sensors and heads down to the Brightside of Ryloth where they see blasterfire and a lightsaber.

Zekk fires at the guards who are blasted back. Hovrak throws himself against an outcropping and holds on.

The ship lands and Luke urges them to get aboard. Raynar goes first and then Jaina. When she gets on the ramp, however, Hovrak jumps at it and grabs her foot. The ship rises in the air with Lusa holding onto Jaina’s hands.

Zekk urges her to get aboard so she kicks at Hovrak’s helmet. She slips on the ramp, weighed down by her hunter. Raynar hits the control switch for the ramp which closes it halfway.

Hovrak finally hauls himself up on the ramp and releases Jaina. Lusa kicks him in the chest and knocks him back. He falls out and into a crevice filled with lava.
  • Is there some reason why someone couldn’t have handled Hovrak while Jaina was struggling with him? Lusa had her hands, couldn’t Raynar or Luke have used the Force to push Hovrak off?
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chapter 22:

The Lightning Rod and Rock Dragon head for Coruscant. They are joyously reunited there, though Lowie is still concerned that Raaba is not with them. The twins spend time with their parents and brother.

Ta’a Chume arrives unexpectedly, despite having not been told her granddaughter was here.

Han and Leia are unhappy that they were not told where their children were going. Jaina reminds them that they wouldn’t have learned the Diversity Alliance’s plans if they hadn’t gone to Ryloth.

But they do trust their parents to decide the best way to proceed from here. Leia has deicded to present their findings to the Senate and determine how to battle this most recent threat.
  • Since Zekk figured out the Diversity Alliance’s plans, going to Ryloth wasn’t essential for any of them to find that out. However, they did rescue Lowie and Sirra.

End of Book 9

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