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"Vector Prime": Book 1 in the New Jedi Order

chapter discussion thread

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#1
Jedi Cool

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chapter 1: The Fraying Fabric:
 
Leia Organa Solo finds the peace of flying through space ironic.  She knows what she will find at the end of the journey. It happens too much these days.  She looks onto the bridge of the Jade Sabre which belongs to her sister-in-law, Mara Jade.  Mara and Leia’s daughter, Jaina, sit at the controls and talk comfortably with each other. 
 
Jaina is 16-years old, but she has the calmness of a veteran pilot.  Leia sees much of herself in her daughter, but the girl she once was, not the person she is now.  Arguably, it had been much easier to settle disputes with a weapon all those years ago than listening to the wounded pride of diplomat after diplomat.
 
There’s also some jealousy at the closeness of Jaina and Mara.  At Jaina’s request, Mara is tutoring her in the ways of the Force.  It isn’t a mothering relationship, but one of sisters.  Leia pushes aside those feelings because she knows Mara can help Jaina in ways Leia cannot.
 
Her Noghri bodyguard, Bolpuhr, is behind her.  She’d accepted him as her shadow because of his unobtrusiveness. 
 
Jaina shows Leia that they are nearing their destination, Rhommamool and Osarian.  There is a Mon Calamari battle cruiser, the Mediator, there already.   Leia thinks the ship will keep the two planets behaving for now.  What started off as a mining dispute over mineral rights has turned into a so-called crusade against tyranny.  The leader of Rhommamool, Nom Anor, is only the latest tyrant Leia has dealt with over the years.
 
Mara doesn’t think this is quite the same.  The fatigue in her voice reminds Leia that Mara is still seriously ill.  A rare disease has infected her which has killed dozens of others.  Mara and one other are the only ones alive and that one is being studied while dying on Coruscant.
 
They are intercepted by mercenaries working for Osarian who insist on Leia speaking with them before Nom Anor.  Leia isn’t accepting that, so the Jade Sabre evades the Z-95s coming after them, while heading for Rhommamool.  The fight is intercepted by the arrival of the new XJ version of the X-Wing arriving in system piloted by someone they know is a Jedi. Faced with the prospect of someone willing to fire on them, several of the mercenaries back off.
 
They are escorted aboard the Mediator and meet with Commander Ackdool, the Mon Calamarian.
 
Leia wants to find out who their Jedi savior is first.  It turns out to be Wurth Skidder.  Leia demands to know why Ackdool sent him out.  Ackdool denies Skidder was under his authority.  Even if he was, it’s doubtful he would’ve followed orders anyway.  Leia confronts the cocky young man by telling him that his adventures might cost a year of diplomatic missions to calm down the Osarians. Skidder protests that the ships were attacking the Jade Sabre.  Leia points out they were only wanting to persuade Leia to go to Osarian first.  She wanted to avoid them and demand no explanations.
 
That would have given them enough bargaining capital to try to reconcile the issues between the two worlds.  Now, she has to deal with a diplomatic incident while he gets to paint another skull on his X-Wing.   
 
Ackdool tells her that he thought it was a blessing when Skidder came aboard a couple of weeks ago, but he’s proven to be difficult to control.
 
Jaina reminds her mother that Skidder thought he was helping.  Mara points out that all he did was reinforce Nom Anor’s accusations against the Jedi.  Jaina doesn’t understand why he hates them so much.  She’d never even heard of these worlds until this mission.  Leia and Mara tell her the Jedi really have nothing to do with it, so much as they are symbols of the New Republic which Nom Anor hates.  He was stirring up trouble before he came here; he’s just found a receptive audience this time.  The Jedi scattered throughout the galaxy do not always make wise decisions.  He’s found many examples to point to.  Leia is glad Luke is considering re-establishing the Jedi Council.
 
The Red Knights of Rhommamool ride their beasts through the city, trying to purge it of landspeeders.  These fanatical followers of Nom Anor consider mechanical objects to be perversions.  They destroy speeders and droids as they are discovered.  Mara warns them that Anor is strange.  She’d tried reading him through the Force and it was as if he had nothing to do with it.
 
Nom Anor watches his followers denounce technology, the Jedi, the Osarians.  He is pleased with this demonstration.  He cares nothing for Rhommamool or even this callback to simpler times his followers are urging.  He does care about the chaos he’s causing and knows his superiors will be pleased.
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • The time is 25 years ABY.  This book takes place the same year that the last three YJK books have.  Luke and Leia are about 45, Mara about 43, Han is approximately 55.  Jacen and Jaina are 16.  Anakin is 14 ½.

  • Nom Anor’s actual first appearance was in Crimson Empire II, put out by Dark Horse Comics.  This would be an example of some of the trouble he’d been stirring up prior to leading Rhommamool.

  • Leia mentions Luke is considering restoring the Jedi Council.  This book was published in 1999, the same year The Phantom Menace was released.  Prior to this book, there was no indication Luke even knew a Council of Jedi had ever existed.  Of course, Luke would know that now because everyone else does, too!

 


#2
Zerimar Nyliram

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I loved this series. I never understood why everyone was so butthurt over the Vong being such a huge departure from the usual Jedi-vs-Sith, or the character death you'll talk about later. I think it was well done.

I love how it seems like Luke is learning about the prequel era right along with us. That was one major charm about the EU for me: it had to adapt to new info being released from previously forbidden eras and incorporate it in interesting ways. I don't think the new canon can ever replicate that.



#3
Jedi Cool

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chapter 2: Intergalactic Eyes:
 
Danni Quee is a member of the ExGal-4 outpost on the Outer Rim planet of Belkadan.  She’s been here for three years and has only recently begun to question her being stationed so far from anything.  Her colleagues change regularly and she doesn’t know them well.  She watches the trees, wondering what she should dream about.
 
Yomin Carr watches her with interest.  He knows she is respected, but he finds her repulsive.  Carr is a Yuuzhan Vong, a species that resemble humans in form, but they are not similar beyond that.  The fact that the humans think he’s one of them repulses him just as much.
 
But he watches her because he believes that she is the one who cannot be ignored here.
 
His colleagues are dull-witted, flirtatious or simply beneath his notice.  They indulge themselves in ryll or in holographic games.  He goes every night to the pod and dials in to sector L30 at low volume to hear any kind of signal from the location he knows only as Vector Prime.
 
This time he spots something.  He hears the rhythmic signal he’s been waiting for years to hear.
 
Carr gets up, announces he’s taking a walk and heads to his quarters where he removes his human disguise and human clothing.  The ooglith masquer rolls over his nose and face and moves across the floor where it lands.  His tattooed body and intentional disfigurements enhance his status as a member of the warrior class.
 
He pulls out a villip, a creature that joins with another halfway across the galaxy, to speak with Prefect Da’Gara.  He assures the prefect that he is going to silence the station now.
 
He pulls out an icon of Yun-Yammka, the Slayer and the Yuuzhan Vong god of war, kisses it and prays over it.
 
Carr heads out and damages a junction box, breaking the connection.  He spots the dweebit beetles that have infected this world and goes back to his quarters, donning the ooglith masquer again.  The tizowyrm crawls into this ear to handle the language translation he needs.
 
A few minutes later, he returns to the control room.  They tell him he missed an extragalactic signal while he was gone.  There’s an incoming asteroid that they debate endlessly over.  He would never have believed how foolish these humans are.
 
He points out that it could be something from their own galaxy that just rebounded.  They should be sure before contacting anyone else. After all, they don’t want to look like fools if it’s nothing.  If it is important, they can learn as much as they can about it before reporting it so that no one else can take credit.
 
Appealing to pride generally works, Carr has found.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 
 


#4
Jedi Cool

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chapter 3: The Role of Politics:
 
Jacen Solo follows Luke into the Council chambers, knowing what his uncle wants to address and hoping it fails.  The New Republic Advisory Council consists of six councilors, plus the Chief of State Borsk Fey’lya.
 
Jacen had been there the day the news had come to his mother that Fey’lya had been elected to take her place.  Leia had quipped she might try returning to politics.  However, Luke had reminded her the face of the government has changed too much.  The stabilizing of the New Republic has allowed Admirals Drayson and Ackbar to retire.  There are fewer friendly faces now.
 
The other councilors are Niuk Niuv of Sullust, Cal Omas of Alderaan, Triebakk from Kashyyyk, the Quarren Pwoe, Fyor Rodan of Commenor and Chelch Dravvad of Corellia. 
 
Though Cal Omas points out that the Osarians shouldn’t have tried to intercept the Jade Sabre, most agree that Luke has to rein in these Jedi of his.  There have been incidents of Jedi swooping in, uninvited, to harass innocent citizens.  Some are believed to be smugglers, but it’s not the job of the Jedi to enforce the law.
 
It is clear that Niuv, Pwo and Rodan are staunch opponents of the Jedi. Omas and Triebakk are supporters, while Dravvad is quiet and will likely have the swing vote. Fey’lya will not go so far as to put out a resolution condemning the Jedi, but Jacen cannot help but feel that they are being judged unfairly for every move they make by people who have no right to judge them.
 
On the way out, Jacen wonders if Niuv and Rodan have ties to smugglers and are just upset about the Jedi interfering with their profits. Luke knows they don’t have proof of that, but his problem is dealing with a hundred Jedi who have their own agendas.
 
They need cohesive direction and that’s why he thinks a Council might be a good idea.  They can establish a single purpose and direction. Jacen doesn’t believe that’s what it means to be a Jedi.
 
He doesn’t even know why Luke wants their permission to establish a Council anyway.  He doesn’t need it.  Luke admits he doesn’t, but reminds Jacen it will be easier in the public relations department if he does.
 
Jacen hates the notion of politics determining how the Jedi handle their affairs.  He believes they should be self-governing.  A properly-trained Jedi, who proves he can resist the temptation of the Dark Side, does not need a bureaucrat to guide him.
 
Dravvad is the key and Borsk will do what is best for himself.  Jacen can’t believe these are the people Luke wants to please.  He argues that setting up a Council similar to this one will only cause the same jaded political philosophy to infiltrate the Jedi Order.
 
He and Luke have been around and around this issue.  Though Jacen was trained at the academy, he doesn’t think it’s a good idea because it’s too formal and structured.  He believes growth in the Force is personal.  Luke agrees, in part, that the academy is a throwback to the old days when apprentices worked one-on-one with Masters the way Jaina does with Mara and the way Jacen and Anakin do with Luke. 
 
That hadn’t been possible when it was just him.  Now that there are many Jedi Knights out there and the old ways are being rediscovered, the new Jedi Order can adapt.  Jacen wants that change to happen faster, to bring the old way back and improve upon it.  He thinks Force-sensitive students should find their own way to the Jedi instead of searching for children strong in the Force.
 
He knows that Luke fears such adepts might be corrupted by the Dark Side before they have the chance, but he still thinks that internal strength in the Force is a personal choice.
 
They say nothing else as they approach the Millennium Falcon.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • The chapter says Leia finally retired.  It would have to have been this year because she was still Chief of State in Crisis at Crystal Reef.

  • I’m sure we all know Ackbar.  Admiral Drayson was introduced in the Thrawn Trilogy and has appeared sporadically since then.

  • It would also appear that, besides the Jedi Council, Luke has also learned that Jedi were recruited as children and that the training of a Jedi was one-on-one with a master.  This is also not information he had in books published prior to the release of the prequels. However, young children were trained at the Jedi Temple.  I’m sure Luke must have come across that, so the structure of an academy is not so unusual.

  • Speaking of that structure, I’m sure I understand why Jacen doesn’t think that is so helpful.  I doubt Jacen spent much time at Yavin IV at all as he left the moon a good dozen times during his training to have adventures during the YJK books.  That doesn’t even count breaks where he went home. 

  • And didn’t Luke pretty much tell Jacen, Jaina, Anakin and their friends that they were all fully-trained Jedi Knights in Crisis at Crystal Reef?  Wasn’t that what the ceremony was about?  If that’s so, why are Jacen and Anakin Luke’s apprentices, while Jaina is Mara’s?  Was he just celebrating the end of their Temple Training?  If so, why did the book call them fully-trained?

  • Finally, Jacen was telling corny jokes and giving eggshell necklaces to Tenel Ka very recently.  When did this philosophical, opinionated young man develop?

 


#5
Zerimar Nyliram

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The matter of knighthood was addressed in The Essential Reader's Companion. Luke was not aware in the early days that knighthood effectively ended one's apprenticeship, which is why we see apprentices still under the tutelage of masters even after becoming Jedi Knights. Luke was still learning about the old days.



#6
Jedi Cool

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Bummer for the kids, then.

 

 



#7
Jedi Cool

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chapter 4: Seeds Planted:
 
Nom Anor is told by Shok Tinoktin that Leia Organa Solo, her daughter and Mara Jade Skywalker have made orbit.  They know at least one Noghri is aboard, too.
 
Anor is reminded that the women are Jedi, but he isn’t worried about that.  Leia hasn’t embraced her powers, her daughter is young and unproven and Mara has problems of her own.
 
Tiinoktin thinks she should have been long dead. 
 
Anor knows his coomb-spore formula had been very successful, breaking down the molecular structure of a victim quickly and causing death.  He hasn’t been able to modify it to infect large populations, but he doesn’t have the time and there is, of course, the problem of Mara Jade Skywalker surviving.
 
Tinoktin has the shlecho newt Anor has given him and has instructions to make sure it gets near Mara Jade’s mouth.  If there are traces of the spores still there, the lizard will find them.
 
This meeting is really pointless.  He’s here to find out how badly off Mara Jade is and to gauge the fortitude of Leia Organa Solo whom he suspects will be a formidable opponent in the future.  He has seen the internal strife his agents have caused the last few years.  The humans and aliens are not structured well.  Disinformation campaigns have nearly toppled her government many times.  They are infidels who do not understand the need for law.
 
The three humans, the Noghri and a droid are ushered inside.  Anor goes to his closet and dons a black cape with a hood and a black mask to cover his already masked face.  This is his normal public appearance and he hopes to get a reaction from his guests.
 
His remaining coomb-spores are here, too.  He briefly considers infecting the others, as well, but knows the Jedi senses and the Noghri will be on guard.
 
Mara recognizes him as he enters and she points him out to Leia who is stunned to recognize how he looks like Darth Vader.
 
She doesn’t stay surprised for long and he is impressed with her composure when she greets him. 
 
Nom Anor is clearly not willing to negotiate.  He gives them a lecture about the hypocrisy of the New Republic and the Jedi.  If they want to avert a war out here, they can turn their battle cruiser on the Osarians and eliminate their ability to attack.  He tells Leia to go back to the New Republic.
 
She storms out with her entourage, leaving the mayor of the city – Tamaktis Breetha -  concerned.  He reminds Nom Anor that they will need the help of the New Republic.   Nom Anor doesn’t care if he leaves this place and Osarian wipes it out, but he doesn’t say so. He tells the mayor that the cause is bigger than the fate of two worlds.
 
Tinotkin tells him that the coomb spore was strong on her breath from the newt’s vantage point on his shoulder.  She was obviously not as strong as normal.  He wants the guests to be led past the square to see the devotion for today.
 
On the way out, Leia tells Jaina not to talk about it yet.  They arrive at the Jade Sabre.  Breetha is sorry that didn’t go better.  Leia retorts that he should tell that to Nom Anor.  He understands and wishes she realized how the Osarians have taken advantage of them. Leia is aware of the history here and points out that their leader is not helping the situation.
 
They have a course change to fly low over the city and vector out.  They are witness to a barbaric destruction of equipment and droids that upsets 3PO.  Leia agrees that Mara is stronger than she is for meeting the man once and agreeing to do it again.
 
Luke and Jacen find the Falcon where it should be and Han and Chewie making repairs that 15-year old Anakin caused to be required while being allowed to fly the ship on the way here.
 
Tired of dealing with his father’s and Chewie’s displeasure, Anakin assures them it’ll get fixed.
 
Han asks how the meeting went and surmises that Fey’lya and his cronies are finding the galaxy much harder to manage than they thought. This time, Luke tells him, they are scapegoating Jedi whom they believe are harassing smugglers on the Outer Rim.
 
He asks if Lando is still out there mining asteroids.  Han confirms that Destrillion and Dubrillion are located in an asteroid system Lando refers to as Lando’s Folly.  Luke thinks he should try to get some inside information.  Lando’s generally good for that.
 
Jacen thinks Jaina will be excited to run the belt.  Han has to explain that, in addition to mining, Lando is running a game where pilots zip around asteroids and see how long they can stay intact.
 
He’s modified some TIEs with repulsor shields that can take several hits.  It’s likely that this game involves a lot of gambling and, perhaps, some training, too.  If Luke wants to go visit him, Han reminds him that Lando’s businesses have put him on bad terms with the New Republic.
 
Besides, Mara should be back by now. He heard things didn’t go well on Rhoomamool.  Luke thinks about the wasting disease that is altering his wife’s molecular structure.  Nothing had been able to treat it and only her use of the Force has been able to hold it back.
 
Their converstion ends when Anakin’s repairs cause another explosion from inside the ship.
 -------------------------------------------------------------------
  • If Mara had seen Nom Anor before, to the point where she recognized him even with the hooded cape and mask, why didn’t she warn Leia and Jaina that his duds caused him to look like Vader?

  • Jacen and Jaina must be nearing their 17th birthdays.  Anakin is 1 ½ years younger than they are and this chapter says he’s 15.  Since chapter 1 confirms Jaina is 16, then she and Jacen must be over 16 ½ by now.  I believe it with all the running around they did from Return to Ord Mantell to Crisis at Crystal Reef.

  • Lando was working on a family-entertainment center on Cloud City within the last 6 months at least.  When did he switch to asteroid mining?

 
 


#8
Jedi Cool

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chapter 5: The War Coordinator:
 
At the ExGal-4 station on Belkadan, Danni Quee looks over the charts again with one of her colleagues.  The incoming asteroid is in the Helsa system now and moving faster than any natural object they’ve ever seen.
 
It will run into the planet if it doesn’t change course.  The fourth planet is made of nothing but ice, according to Yomin Carr who says he did some research on it when it was determined the asteroid was headed nearby.  If it’s ice, the small planet will not survive the crash of the asteroid. 
 
They decide to get a better reading and get some New Republic scientists out here now.  But the transmitter doesn’t work.
 
It turns out that the asteroid is a living worldship made of yorik coral.  Prefect Da’Gara has his underlings increase speed to Helska 4.  The great yammosk is coordinating the war from the main holding compartment.
 
The trailing tendrils of the worldship are huge creatures anchored to it and look like tails, which is why the scientists on ExGal-4 think it’s a comet.  The transmitter is being worked on now, but it will take a couple of days to get it repaired.
 
This doesn’t bother Yomin Carr as the transmitter won’t work because they haven’t noticed the main sabotage to it.  The dweebits in the wilderness of Belkadan are still doing their job, too.
 
Da’Gara lands the ship on Helksa IV where the yammosk slides into the icy water.  This world will be their base of operations.
 
On ExGal-4, they watch the collision and nothing happens.  Confused, they turn to the problem of the transmitter and send the repairman up to the tower.  Danni decides to send the aged Spacecaster out to Helksa to send a message to ExGal.
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
 


#9
Jedi Cool

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chapter 6: Take Me Far, Far Away:
 
Jaina brings the Jade Sabre out of lightspeed near Coruscant.  Mara is resting, but Leia wants to go get her when they spot the new Star Defender, Viscount.  Jaina urges her to let Mara sleep longer.
 
Leia realizes how Mara trusts Jaina with her ship.  Leia should, too.
 
However, she thinks Mara should know they are going to land soon.  Leia finds Mara in her quarters crying. The disease had hit her again while she slept, attacking her womb this time.  Mara was able to beat it back, but Leia realizes that she’s concerned about her ability to have children.
 
Though Mara is in her forties, this disease is the only thing unhealthy about her.  She should still be able to have children.  Mara reminds Leia she’s not getting younger and she just gets tired of fighting all the time.  It’s not giving up even if it’s not gaining ground.  There’s also the chance she could pass this along to her offspring or that it would kill any unborn she conceives.  If she is healed, will she even be able to bear them?
 
Leia assures her that she will have babies and Jaina will have them and they’ll all sit around telling stories while Luke babysits them all.
 
Jacen finds Anakin practicing with his lightsaber in the main chamber of the Falcon again.  Anakin is getting good with that remote, but Jacen is in the mood for an argument after the Council meeting.  He notes that Anakin spends most of his life with the remote.
 
Anakin believes Jedi practice to hone their skills, while Jacen thinks it’s to deepen their understanding of the Force.  He challenges Anakin to admit that he fantasizes about battles before he practices. 
 
The Force is not a tool or a weapon.  Anakin thinks it is a weapon on top of being a great responsibility.  Jacen accuses him of focusing on personal glory, using it to further his perception of good.
 
Anakin asks him if the New Republic is good or evil.  Jacen thinks it’s neither.  He doesn’t agree with every action and individual communities have suffered at its hands. 
 
Anakin points out that Luke will put the Council back together whether Jacen likes it or not.  Jacen acknowledges that it will happen because Luke has to deal with Jedi like Anakin who think their job is to run around, righting every wrong.
 
He has to use the Force to to look inside himself and find inner peace.  It makes him a better warrior.  Anakin challenges him to prove it and they spar relentlessly inside the ship until Jacen gains the upper hand.
 
Mara, Jaina and C 3PO find the Falcon.  Jaina pulls her brothers aside to tell them about her battle with the Z-95s.  Mara fills in Luke about the issue surrounding Wurth Skidder.  Leia put him in his place for now. 
 
Luke asks how she feels about a trip to the Outer Rim.
 
Out the council chamber, Chewie waits for Leia.  Rodan comes out and starts grumbling about a trade problem with Kashyyyk.  Leia emerges to find Rodan hanging on a coatrack and complimenting her on her choice of friends.
 
Leia tells him to take Rodan down, but, after the Councilor threatens to tell Triebakk, Chewie shuts the closet door.  Considering the grilling she took inside the chambers, Leia assumes they’ll find him eventually.
 
At the Falcon, Han asks if she wants to get away for a vacation.  They are all going, including Luke and Mara.  Impressed that Mara is willing to live life to the fullest, Leia is glad that she is Jaina’s mentor.
 -----------------------------------------------------------------
  • Where did this Jacen Solo come from? 

  • For that matter, where did this Anakin come from?  There is a huge disconnect between the two boys we saw on Yavin IV and the two at-odds teenagers we are seeing now.  Too little time has passed between the last adventures and this one to make the personality changes understandable.

 
 


#10
Jedi Cool

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chapter 7: Launch:
 
Danni goes to Yomin Carr to offer him a place aboard the Spacecaster, but he refuses.  He explains he’s not been here long and there are others who have earned the right more than he.  After she leaves, he wonders if he should just kill them all in their sleep.
 
He calls out to Yun-Yammka and Yan-Harla, the Cloaked Goddess, for guidance.  Under dark of night, he heads to the Spacecaster and perform the distasteful task of working with machines.  He disables the distance communicator so it will look like it is sending a message, but won’t.
 
Then he uses the villip to warn Da’Gara about the ship that is coming.  Belkadan will survive as it is for a short time.  The storms will arrive soon and he can wait them out here.
 
The next morning before light, Carr and one of the remaining technicians head over to the tower to determine how to fix the transmitter when the other spots the multiple beetles on the ground.
 
They climb up and the technician finds the disconnected junction box that he blames on the wind.  They watch the Spacecaster take off, the other man glad he’s here and not there.  Carr points out he’s a threat here, grabs him, knocks his grip off the tower and tosses him to the ground below.
 
The Spacecaster crew watches a storm brewing on Belkadan.  They cannot call the compound to warn them, though.  Danni pulls out her portable communicator and gets in touch with one of the remaining scientists.
 
She tells him there’s a storm coming, but the connection is spotty and she isn’t sure they are picking up the message.  They were lucky to launch in this old thing anyway to risk going back down.  The storm doesn’t look too bad so she decides they’ll go on.
 
Nom Anor watches the missles headed to Osa-Prime.  This strike is opposed by Breetha, but he is unable to do anything about it as several high-ranking officials on Rhomamool have been assassinated.
 
He hopes the Mediator won’t detect the launch.  He’s already spent time talking pleasantly with Commander Ackdool, assuring him that they can negotiate now that Leia Organa Solo is gone.
 
The fallout from this attack will be swift, but his mission on this planet is nearly over.  He has to distract the New Republic from what’s happening on the outer edges of their territory.  
 
When Ackdool calls, protesting the missle attack, Nom Anor takes responsibility, tells it it’s in retaliation for the assassinations and cuts him off.
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 


#11
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chapter 8: Layers:
 
While the Falcon is docked at Reecee, Luke confronts Jacen about fighting with Anakin.  He knows that were fighting with lightsabers, something that won’t make their father happy, but he is more concerned about their continual war of words over their differing philosophies.
 
Jacen knows the decision Luke is facing and is asked for his insight regarding that.  Jacen believes that the Force is a pure thing.  Putting a bureaucracy in place to govern them is like putting a bird in a cage.
 
Luke believes that, too, but the powers of the Jedi require certain responsibilities be undertaken.  Jacen doesn’t think they should be responsible to people like Borsk Fey’lya who he feels is not worth Luke’s time.
 
Luke is surprised by his nephew’s passion, but expresses his fear at Jacen’s pride.  He thinks Jacen has a fear of control, as exemplified by his opinion of the academy.  The academy helped make him the person he is today.
 
Jacen points out that he was born strong in the Force.  The academy didn’t do that.  He might be a purer Jedi if he were trained one-on-one, the way Yoda trained Luke.  Luke doesn’t disagree which is why they are utilizing the master-apprentice format now.  But he does think that Jacen will understand things better when he’s older.
 
On the bridge of the Jade Sabre, Leia thinks she’s reached a point where she just wants to be Leia, with no titles.  Mara doesn’t think that’s selfish.  It’s natural to want to have time to spend saving oneself rather than the galaxy.
 
Leia points out that they are close to the same age.  Mara wants to have children while Leia cannot imagine doing it again.  Mara thinks age and stages of life are two different things.  Leia has already had children.
 
Han and Chewie enter a drinking hole known for its violence.  They approach a Sullustan named Dugo Bagy to find out what Lando is really doing out there.
 
Bagy insists it’s just mining asteroids, but does admit that Lando is working on new techniques.  There’s a lot of profit if someone can figure out how to mine the Kerane’s Folly asteroid belt near Hoth.
 
He’s also running the Belt Game.  To some that’s all it is, to others it helps train pilots to avoid hunters taught by Luke Skywalker.  Kyp Durron and his Dozen-and-Two Avengers cost smugglers out here a lot of credits.
 
Bagy asks what he’s seeing Lando for.  Han answers it’s just a vacation.
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  • Han was meeting with Lando all the time during the Young Jedi Knights series. Now he’s stopping at a disreputable bar first to find out what his friend is really up to without even asking him first?

 


#12
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chapter 9: The Honor of Dying:
 
The four remaining scientists head out of the compound to investigate the storm Danni had warned them about.  They are already grieving for the accidental death of their colleague. 
 
They use flight packs to land at a basin to examine the storm.  A foul-smelling odor causes them to put on their environmental suits.  It might be a volcano.  That would require the compound to be locked down tight.
 
However, they discover it’s not that, but a tree.  Dawn shows a forest that is emitting greenish orange smoke and leaves that are turning yellow.  There are noxious fumes coming from the leaves.
 
The phenomenon is spreading so they decide to leave.  However, there’s not enough oxygen left to ignite their flght packs.  Even the predators of the forests are dying.
 
Two of the team members give up their oxygen tanks. In the end, one is able to get past the emerging storm to use the flight pack until it runs out of fuel. 
 
The Spacecaster comes out of hyperspace at Helska 4.  The planet looks intact, as though nothing hit it at all.  There are strange energy readings coming from it.  Belkadan still can’t be reached so Danni has a general broadcast sent.
 
There are meteor-like debris in orbit, but they notice a mound on the surface that may be organic.  When they approach, however, the meteors form up and come at them.
 
Danni angles up and tries to get to hyperspace, but can’t move.  A glob of glue hits the window, pulses and opens a hole.  They are greeted by a head that calls itself Prefect Da’Gara.  He invites them to visit his home and use the villip creature to communicate.
 
They decline, but he points out they don’t have a choice.  They can follow the coralskippers in or melt.  Danni pulls out a blaster and shoots the villip creature.  Their ship is hit repeatedly until it falls.
 
The final researcher reaches the station to find Yomin Carr waiting.  He explains that it’s not a storm but some kind of plague.  The others are dead, having given up their oxygen so he could get back to warn the compound.  They have to use the freighter to leave.
 
Carr points out the freighter has been scavenged for parts too often to be of use and hasn’t been flown for years.  The plague will be here in three hours.
 
He explains that it will cover the planet in two days.  He could drag the man back in and let him die of lack of oxygen, but he would rather let him die a noble death as a reward for the perseverance he showed in getting back here.
 
He breaks the man’s neck.
 
Dannie thinks she’s dead, but realizes that she’s just very much wounded.  She realizes she’s within the organic mound they saw on the planet.  Humanoid beings march through the corridors. 
 
Her comrades are dead.  Da’Gara tells her that Yomin Carr wanted her to be shown some respect.  She feels pain as some kind of goo rolls up her legs.  It begins to attach itself to her body all over. 
 
He was going to kill her with honor, but thinks she should see the world they are going to create.  She has a fleshy creature shoved over her mouth which snakes a tendril down her throat before joining with her breathing.  Then Da’Gara drags her to another chamber to a hole and shoves her down with himself after her.
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#13
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chapter 10: Running the Belt:
 
It took a week to fly from Reecee to where Lando has his operation.  Jaina will be coming in the X-Wing, something that Mara believed she was ready for. 
 
Han marvels at the way Lando got this up and running in a year.  Luke notes a couple of XJ X-Wings docked, too.  Those only belong to Jedi Knights.
 
Lando greets his friends and can’t believe the kids have gotten so much bigger in the year since he’s seen them.  A tour of the facility reveals TIE Advanced x1 fighters that he uses for the belt run.  He explains that the adjustable shock couches help the pilots. 
 
Pilots fly along the asteroid field, not through it.  He asks if Jaina wants to try it out.  She looks to her parents first, then Mara.
 
The technicians show her how to fly the modified version.  Luke notices that perfecting a way to protect a ship while keeping the maneuvering, accelerating and flying optimum would be more valuable than any mineral Lando could get off an asteroid.
 
Jaina, Jacen and Anakin are given test runs first, then she gets a look at the the list of top pilots.  Kyp Durron is the current champion with his apprentice, Miko Reglia, at seventh.
 
Jacen’s run puts him on the board and Anakin nearly gets pummeled coming in faster than his brother.  Leia has had enough and tells Jaina to come back.  Jaina pretends not to hear her and takes off.  Leia is furious, but Han assures her that Jaina can do it. 
 
Mara urges Jaina to flow through the Force.  She breaks through the barrier with a time that will put her on the board no lower than third. Jacen notes that Kyp was on the docks, watching it all.
 
Luke reminds himself to speak with Kyp, but for now, his niece’s flight pattern is going to trump him.  Through the Force, Jaina finds her inner peace and doesn’t remember the run at all. 
 
Her score tops Kyp’s by more than double.
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#14
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chapter 11: Boom:
 
Yomin Carr is back in the station where the remaining staff are trapped.  He begins the process of eliminating the rest of them.
 
Nom Anor takes a rocket from Rhommamool with Shok Tinoktin toward the Mediator.  The first booster fires which reveals an open shell with an A-Wing hidden inside. 
 
The missles between Rhomamool and Osarian are going back and forth which explains Ackdool’s eagerness to speak with Anor.
 
Anor leaves a villip behind in the capsule that continues to pressure Ackdool for sanctuary.  The capsule is pulled onto the Mediator where Tinoktin detonates the explosives that destroy the docking bays.
 
Assuming that Ackdool has more important things to worry about now, they make the jump to hyperspace in the A-Wing.
 
He contacts Da’Gara who tells him that Belkadan can no longer be used by their enemies, Yomin Carr is working on turning the station to operate to their advantage and the war coordinator observes little resistance.
 
The next target will be Sernpidal, a heavily populated world in the Julevian system.  They haven’t decided how to handle it, whether through plague or another method.  Nom Anor suggests mystery enough to draw some warships to the rescue, but not enough to reveal their hand.
 
They should use a tactic devised long ago by a Vong general who had used a dovin basal, the creature that now propels worldships and other craft, by dropping it down to a planet where it latched onto the planet core and to a passing moon. 
 
Any New Republic investigators won’t understand the power behind it until it’s too late.  Meanwhile, Anor begins preparing his next speech to appeal to the oppressed of the New Republic.
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#15
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chapter 12: The Game, The Reality:
 
Jaina admits her experience was strange.  Jacen thinks she’s found her peace, while Anakin believes it was a result of her flying practice. 
 
It’s the same old argument over opening up to the Force versus the practical use of it.  Jacen thinks Jaina wasn’t conscious while navigating the field because she let herself go.  Anakin insists she learned to apply the Force as an addition to her practice.  That’s why Jacen didn’t do better.
 
Jacen says he never found the right level of meditation.  Anakin says because he doesn’t practice enough. 
 
Kyp Durron appears and congratulates Jaina on her flying.  He’ll have to go back in sometime to retake the lead, but, for now, he’s returning to work.  He and his squadron are returning to stopping illegal trade and settling disputes.
 
Jacen asks if that’s what Jedi do now.  Kyp asks if it’s not.   Jacen acts as if stopping smugglers is beneath the Jedi.  Innocent people are robbed of their wealth or taken captive due to illegal trading.  Kyp thinks it’s their job to come to the aid of those in need.
 
Jacen argues there’s a difference between finding trouble and looking for it.  Jedi are not police.  Kyp has heard the same argument from Master Skywalker who didn’t stop Kyp from doing it anyway. 
 
He offers all three of them the chance to fly with his squadron if they are allowed.
 
They watch his squadron leave with great panache before Jaina has to stop another argument between her brothers.
 
The adults watch Kyp leave, too.  Lando notes what a great pilot Luke is.  Luke thinks he’s past the need to compete against others.  He can forgive the kids for their excitement, but Kyp should know better at his age.
 
Lando tries to get him and Mara, then Han and Chewie to fly, but no one will accept.  The kids come in and Mara tells them Lando wants Chewie and Han to take a run at the belt.
 
She thinks it’s a good idea.  Leia does, too.  Han warns her that he’s too old and slow.  He changes his mind when he finds out a couple of braggarts he’s never cared for are at the top of the two-seater race results.
 
Getting Chewie into a TIE Bomber is easier said than done.  By the time, Han gets nearly through the run, his shields are down and the comm. system isn’t working.  Luke runs out of the room and grabs a TIE fighter.
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  • Kyp Durron should be between 30-32 years old.  Of course, we remember that we were given contradictory information about his age in the Jedi Academy trilogy.

  • And it doesn’t seem that he’s changed all that much, has he?  Taking the law into his own hands has always kind of been his style.

 
 


#16
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chapter 13: Minus Thirteen:
 
The Dozen-And-Two Avengers are a squadron that Kyp hopes will someday be spoken of the same way Rogue Squadron is.  Having any of the Solo children join would only enhance its image.
 
He wonders if they’re ready for that and, if so, who would lead the squadron.  Jaina clearly beat his score during the Run and he can’t even hope to top it.  On the other hand, there’s no guarantee any of them would join.  Luke had been stern about Kyp’s activities out here, but he hadn’t banned him from doing it.
 
The squadron docks with a hyperspace buoy and Kyp’s astromech, R5-L4, begins downloading information on every ship that has passed this way recently.  One stands out: a Spacecaster-class shuttle jumping to Helska that L4 backtracks to Belkadan.
 
Storms erupting on Belkadan make Kyp wonder if the ExGal-4 station is in trouble.
 
He doesn’t know why any escaping scientists would go to Helska rather than Dubrillion or the Core.  There doesn’t seem to be anything on the planet.  He has L4 plot a course to Helska and prepares a report requesting a general call for help for Belkadan.
 
Luke doesn’t slow down in the asteroid belt, dodging boulders, until he finds Han and Chewie’s TIE bomber sitting on an asteroid.  One wing is gone.  Lando sends a tow ship out to bring them to safety.  Luke knows Han will never live down the disgrace of having Lando’s machine come get him.
 
The Avengers arrive in the Helksa system and get readings on the fourth planet.  Kyp wonders if they’ve stumbled across a smuggler’s den.  The Spacecaster hasn’t left the system, though.  Dozens of objects in orbit are spotted.  At first, Kyp thinks they are asteroids, but they soon confirm the objects are spacecraft of some kind.
 
The swarm of ships come at them quickly.  The enemy can take a punch, but don’t leave one very well.  Kyp tries to communicate with them to no avail.  Then, his comrades begin losing their shields and are pummeled by enemy fire.
 
Miko loses his and explains a gravity well has grabbed him.  It punched a hole in his shields and he lost them.  Kyp yells for him to get out quickly.  Flying close to one enemy ship, Kyp can’t help but think this looks like a living, breathing creature.
 
His own shields drop and he launches missles at the enemy craft which repels them.  Miko is hit.  An A-Wing is all that’s left of Kyp’s squadron as he orders the pilot to jump to hyperspace immediately.  The A-Wing has several insectoid creatures attached to it, burrowing in.  When the starlines disappear, Kyp sees he’s the only one left and has a couple of those insectoids coming at him, too.
 
Lando persuades Han to visit Sernpidal for him and deliver a cargo of ore as a favor.  He assures him it will only take a couple of days.  A technician comes in with a printout from Kyp Durron who indicates trouble at Belkadan.
 
Since Han is going to Sernpidal anyway, he could surely stop at Belkadan.  Luke and Mara agree to go there, while Han and Chewie take the Falcon to Sernpidal.  Leia suggests Han bring Anakin with him and let him practice flying.
 
Jade Sabre leaves shortly, followed by the Falcon on what’s supposed to be a one-day trip.
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#17
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chapter 14: Closer, Closer:
 
L4 wails as the creature digs into the metal of the ship.  Kyp works to get his lifesuit secured, unstraps himself and shuts down the drive. He locks the S-foils, pinning the creature between them. 
 
When it pushes through the canopy, Kyp blows the canopy away and rocks the X-wing.  He pulls his lightsaber and slices through it.  The bits of creature and the canopy float away.  He is stranded out here with no lifeline and no one to help him.  He uses the Force to grab at his ship, pull himself to it and examine the drive.
 
He cannot engage the hyperdrive without a canopy.  There’s no habitable planet nearby.  His suit will protect him for a few hours.  He eases the ion drive online and it fires.  Then he forces himself to relax.  He alters the power grids of the drive and eases it back online. There is no thrust but, coupled with the shields, creates a bubblelike shield around him.  He hopes it will help him survive hyperspace as he lays in a course for Dubrillion.  Kyp finds that Sernpidal is closer.
 
Danni Quee is wearing a loose-fitting poncho in a domed chamber above the water.  She is not cold, despite being on this frozen world. She has never seen anything so horrible as her captors. 
 
They bring her food and water every so often.  Apparently, Yomin Carr has insisted she be treated with respect so she hasn’t been tortured.  She still thinks they mean to sacrifice her. 
 
Another prisoner is brought in.  Da’Gara explains that warriors came against them and were destroyed with ease.  This one is not worthy. 
 
She tells the man that he’s on the fourth planet of the Helska system.  He asks if she was on the Spacecaster shuttle they tracked here.  He is Miko Reglia and belonged to the Dozen-and Two Avengers, led by Kyp Durron, a Jedi like himself.
 
He uses the Force to try to reach out to another Jedi and then asks who these people are.  Danni tells them that they are the Yuuzhan Vong who have come from another galaxy.  They came inbound using an asteroid or a comet that the ExGal-4 station tracked.
 
They are here to conquer the whole galaxy.  So far, they’ve seized this one planet.  The Vong have technology based on organic lifeforms that they‘ve trained or bred to serve them. 
 
Da’Gara admits to Nom Anor that they lost a dozen coralskippers before discovering the enemy’s weakness and using the dovin basals to take down their shields.  Eleven were destroyed in-system.  Two jumped to hyperspace but had grutchins pursuing.  He believes those two are destroyed, too.
 
Anor is concerned that this might call attention by the New Republic.  He turns the conversation to the Jedi Da’Gara claims to have.  He warns care to be taken with that one.  Da’Gara is using the woman against him.  They will execute him in his mind many times until he breaks and can be fed to the war coordinator.
 
His willpower has to be measured in order to know the limits of the Jedi.
 
Anor points out that the squadron of fighters was a long way from the Core.  There has to be a reason why it came out here.  Da’Gara should find out why from the Jedi.
 
A pair of warriors appear in the chamber, alerting Danni and Miko.  When a third appears, Mike launches himself against them, knocking one into the water pool and the others onto the floor.  Dannie grabs one’s weapons. 
 
Miko reaches out with the Force to try to guage his opponent, but feels nothing.  He can still anticipate moves.  Eventually, the two overwhelm the warriors, pull the living masks off them and use them to try to move through the chambers.
 
Da’Gara finds them and tells them it took them longer than he’d expected.  He traps them with a moving goo that holds them in place. Da’Gara explains that there are more ships coming.  Danni can learn the glory of the Praetorite Vong.
 
She is tossed back into the tube and finds herself near the yammosk.  Warriors hold her tightly as Prefect Da’Gara appears in ceremonial robes.  She knows he’s communicating with them and concentrates, realizing that the yammosk has mental powers. 
 
Da’Gara tells his people about the second and third worldships that will land.  He exalts Prefect Ma’Shraid, a female born on a litter, who takes her place by Da’Gara’s side.
 
She offers prayers to many gods and speaks of the glory that they will all know.  This goes on for hours.  Miko Reglia is stuck to a post and is grabbed by the tentacles of the yammosk.  She knows he’s finding his point of meditation.  The creature beats at him with its mental energy, wanting him to show fear.
 
Danni urges him to fight it.
 
Miko tries to look away and close his eyes, but the yammosk won’t let him.  He’s never been afraid of death, but there is something different here as he is drawn closer to the maw.
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  • Miko tells Danni that he’s a Jedi Knight, but he’s not completed his training as he’s under apprenticeship to Kyp.  So that’s it?  You can be a Jedi Knight but not be fully-trained then.  That doesn’t explain why Jacen, Jaina and their friends were described as fully-trained Jedi in Crisis at Crystal Reef and are still apprentices now.

 
 


#18
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chapter 15: Awaiting the Goddess’s Arrival:
 
Anakin has set the Falcon down on Sernpidal within a walled field in the middle of the city.  Han tries to find out who runs the dock, but doesn’t get much help.  An old man leaning on a staff is there, tells him there really isn’t a dockmaster, but Han won’t have much trouble unloading his cargo.
 
Anakin tries to use the Jedi mind trick to persuade passing Sernpidalians to help them with no luck.  They keep saying the word “Tosi-karu” as if it means something.  Chewie complains that Luke could do it better, but Anakin protests that they seem distracted by other things.
 
Anakin tries again, the Sernpidalian tries to move around him and is stopped by Chewie’s roar.  The man runs away, screaming.  Anakin turns to Chewie and agrees that was much more effective.
 
Returning to his father, he complains no one will listen.  Han asks him what he’s sensing.  This surprises Anakin who is rarely asked by his father to do anything with the Force.  Anakin senses fear and something else…a group of locals running by wearing striped robes.  It’s fear and hope at one time.
 
Han thinks they should unload themselves and get out of here.  Hundreds of voices yell, “Tosi-karu” again.  Thinking this might be someone in charge, they walk down the street to find the old man waiting. 
 
He points to the moon.  It’s coming down and moving faster every hour.  The old man doesn’t really believe it’s the goddess Tosi-karu like the others, though.  He was elected the mayor here and was supposed to protect them.
 
Han doesn’t care about any of that right now.  He yells for them all to run to the Falcon.  When they get there, it appears that the cargo is finally being unloaded by a mob.  Chewie roars, Han pushes and Anakin uses the Force to convince a few they’d be better off leaving.  It takes an hour to clear the area and the ship of stowaways.
 
Han doesn’t bother to clear permission from ground authorities as he lifts off.  They don’t have the weaponry to bring down the moon safely without devastating the planet.  According to the charts, the moon will crash into Sernpidal in seven hours.
 
He doesn’t know how this is happening or why it’s happening now.  They cannot get all these people off the planet in seven hours.  He puts out a general distress call and they download data from a weather satellite
 
Anakin realizes that something on the planet is pulling it down.  He traces the clip to an area of Sernpidal City.  Han lays in a course, looking for something like an Interdictor Cruiser that might be used to affect gravity.
 
Quakes begin rocking the city.  Han lands the ship and tells Chewie to pack them in as tight as he can.  Anakin suggests they mobilize any other ship they can.  He also volunteers to find the source of the gravity pull.  The Falcon can blast it.
 
He decides to send Anakin in a landspeeder, tells him to call the coordinates in and get out of the way.  The so-called mayor is found and conscripted to help Anakin.  He asks if Han is the hero type and if he can stop the moon from falling.  He asks if something is pulling it down.  He didn’t always live here and is familiar with ships. 
 
A roar from Chewie brings Han back to the ship and he reminds himself to thank Lando for this when he gets back.
 ----------------------------------------------------------------
 


#19
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chapter 16: Worthy Opponent:
 
At Belkadan, Luke and Mara find a world that looks dead.  Mara doesn’t believe that ExGal really had an observation station here.  They might have been experimenting here.  That would explain the huge change to the planet.
 
They break atmosphere and watch the devastation as they descend.  Luke senses that the planet isn’t dead, just different.  He uses the Force to find the station and land.
 
Yomin Carr hears the Jade Sabre’s drives and watches it pass.  Carr checks his armor, bandolier of flying thud bugs, checks his pouch of blorash jelly and his serpentine amphistaff which can harden or become whiplike for diverse uses in battle.
 
The first thing Luke notices when they emerge is numerous dead brown beetles.  There is blood on the doors of the station.  An empty dock awaits them inside.  Mara finds another of the strange beetles, but it is still alive.  Picking it up, she wonders if it’s related to the disaster here.  It oozes some kind of liquid.  It’s not poison, but she can’t discern it.
 
The control room is still active, but no one is here.  Luke tells Artoo to download everything they’ve got. 
 
In private quarters, Mara finds a journal with entries complaining about the foul air and how Yomin Carr dismisses this as a weather oddity.  She finds another beetle inside a bottle.  Comparing it to the one she has, she take both and the journal. Artoo’s screech brings her back the way she came.
 
Artoo had gotten 70% of the data downloaded when a figure holding a snake-headed staff emerged, calling him a perversion and many other impolite names.  Artoo tries to pull away as the being pulls his bandolier out.
 
Mara confronts the warrior, telling him they are not his enemies.  He says the droid is a sign of their weakness. He is Yomin Carr, the harbinger of doom.  He pulls a thud bug and tosses it at her.  She fires at it, but it dodges, forcing her to fire again, destroying it.
 
His armor deflects shots, the thud bugs are tossed at her and some kind of pile of goo on the floor traps her legs. Artoo whirrs out of the room to find Luke as Mara cuts through the gel with her saber.  The staff Carr wields has a living snake head on it.  They battle relentlessly as she realizes that the Force is not part of this being. She ducks low and stabs the saber into his chest.  He deems her worthy, calls her a Jedi and dies.
 
Luke rushes in with R2 at his feet.   She tells him to get her out of there.  They cut through the jelly as Artoo finishes the download.  Mara explains who the warrior was and that he somehow knew her. 
 
He gets Mara back to the ship and asks her to stay with Artoo.  He wants to find out what this creature was.  She warns him he had living weapons and that she could not use the Force to gain insight.
 
She flies cover for him as he searches the compound and returns with two brown twitching balls he found on a shelf in a closet.  Mara is fatigued, telling Luke that this planet seemed to weaken her as they approached it.  They wonder if all of this is connected to her illness.
 
A voice startles them and they find one of the twitching balls now displays a face.  A voice speaking in an unfamiliar language.  It is clearly some kind of communication device.  Using the downloads in Artoo, they find that the scientists were tracking a comet headed toward Helska 4.   With no other leads, they lay course there.
 
Meanwhile, Miko Reglia cannot get past the gaping maw of the yammosk.  Nothing in his training had prepared him for the reality of that creature.  It has feigned his death many times and he can never stop believing he will die each time.
 
It’s affecting his sleep and his appetite.  Danni is helpless, knowing her companion is about to break.  She’s tried to comfort him, but cannot, because, for some reason, the Vong have decided that this Jedi is not worthy.
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#20
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chapter 17: The Last Pose of Defiance:
 
Another quake topples a building as Anakin weaves through the streets in the landspeeder, looking for something that doesn’t belong here. He follows the tug of the Force until he sees the tractor beam.
 
He stops at the crater in which a huge power source sits.  He takes out his blaster and fires.  The bolt disappears.  Somehow, this thing is living.  He tells the old man to take the landspeeder back and get his father.
 
Another quake sends them flying to the ground.  He looks into the crater to see the creature has responded to the attacks by reversing the gravity pull and latching onto Sernpidal’s core.
 
The Falcon appears and lands on the plan.  Han runs out and tells him that they’ve got to go now.  Chewie is organizing the retreat from the planet, but there are barely enough ships.  Anakin tells him it’s a living creature causing this problem.  Han tells him it doesn’t matter now. 
 
The old man prefers to stay behind.  He has a thermal detonator to stop the creature from doing it again to another world.  When the Falcon lifts off, the detonator explodes.  The old man hadn’t saved his world, but he’d done something heroic, nonetheless.
 
Prefect Da’Gara offers prayers to Yun-Yammka and plans to lure some enemy ships in to destroy.  Contacting Nom Anor, he explains that Sernpidal is dying.  Four of their warships will intercept and chase refugees to the next planet where warfare will begin.
 
At Sernpidal City, the docking area is gone.  Chewie is waving, holding children in his other arm.  Anakin is sent to help him.  When the boy reports the kids are safe, he says that Chewie is going after a downed shuttle, trapped by debris.
 
Anakin uses the Force to help him move the rocks.  The shuttle takes off, Anakin and Chewie fight the wind to get to the Falcon when they hear a cry for help.  A small boy is pulled out of the debris and they run toward the ship.  The huge wind knocks a stone into Anakin’s head and knocks him over.
 
Chewie hands the toddler to Han and goes back to grab Anakin.  The Falcon can barely maneuver now or hold position.  The refugees hold Han on the ramp as he reaches for his friend.  Chewbacca gives Han his son and they are separated when the ground bucks again.
 
Han rushes to the cockpit to see if he can find his friend.  Anakin regains consciousness and uses the Force to find the Wookiee.  Han gives him the cockpit and runs to the landing ramp.  Anakin flies the ship as close as he can to Chewie, who is standing with his back to the ship, facing the falling moon.
 
A tremendous wind tosses him to the ground, rubble hits the Falcon and pushes the nose up.  Anakin fights to gain control, but knows it’s too late.  He cannot turn back for Chewie or everyone on the ship will die.  Punching the throttle, he sends the ship skyward.
 
As the ship flies off, the shock wave hits it and spins it off into space, Han watches his friend regain his footing, stand up and raise his fist in defiance at the moon. 
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  • I realize that saving the planet by destroying the tractor beam would have been ideal, but a great deal of time was wasted going after the thing when it turned out they could do nothing about it.

  • Secondly, didn’t Anakin have a comlink on him?  Why was he sending the old man to get his father when they found the tractor beam?  Couldn’t he have just sent the coordinates?  It didn’t even matter because, somehow, Han found him anyway!

 


#21
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chapter 18: Storm Brewing:
 
Luke is in his X-Wing and tells Mara to jump to lightspeed if there’s trouble.  They’d entered Helska quietly, wondering if the warrior or the plague on Belkadan might be related to whatever had come through the galactic barrier here.
 
They cannot begin to translate the mysterious language whoever was trying to communicate with Yomin Carr was speaking.  C 3PO would get it, though. 
 
He feels the energy around the planet and knows there’s something dangerous down there.  Each orbit around the planet decreases his speed.  He brings the ship down lower as Mara tries to tell him something.  A jolt grabs the X-Wing and brings him down to the planet.
 
The ine of ships limps away from the former planet of Sernpidal.  Han watches it for a long time.  When Anakin comes to tell him that there are 111 ships in the convoy, Han turns on his son, accusing him of leaving Chewbacca behind. 
 
Anakin knows the logs would back up his certainty that he didn’t have a choice, but that won’t change the expression of pain on his father’s face.  A man who’d always been strong and heroic to Anakin now looks broken.
 
After Anakin runs off, Han becomes conscious of the refugees who’ve witnessed the whole thing and storms to the empty cockpit, fully aware of the vacant co-pilot’s seat.
 
Luke has Artoo fire the torpedoes which break the tractor lock but damage the ship and leave him weaponless as several ships head toward him. 
 
Han cannot see logic right now.  He feeds the coordinates to Dubrillion to the next ship in the convoy, planning to go back to Sernpidal to get Chewie.  A distress call comes from one of the last ships, claiming giant buts are coming through.
 
Unable to ignore it, he grouses about the pilot’s imagination until he sees it for himself.  Huge insects are boring through the shuttlecraft. The Falcon’s lasers blast one into pieces, but he can’t save the shuttle.
 
It explodes.  Flying around, he looks for any other problems and sets up a line of communication between the other ships.  They are to close ranks and move at the same speed.  He cannot go back and abandon these helpless people now.
 
A ship lists in space nearby.  He calls to it and gets a partial message from Kyp Durron.  Han calls Anakin up to the cockpit to help him while they go to save Kyp.
 
Luke is out of torpoedoes and uses his lasers to try to ward off the enemy ships while trying to escape.
 
A swarm of insects heads for the X-Wing and the Falcon as Han heads toward Kyp.  He sends Anakin to the gun wells.  There are too many of the insects for him to hit and they soon land on the hull.
 
Anakin goes to the main power transfer alcove, shuts down the power, frees the main cable and sends power through it before feeding up through the tool release to the top hatch.  The shock of power stuns the bugs and they float off.
 
He returns power to the ship and shoots them all with the lasers.
 
The Falcon grabs Kyp’s X-Wing with a tow line.
 
The Jade Sabre appears, blasting through the enemy ships and catches Luke in the docking bay while flying quickly.  There are thousands of fighters out there.  Who knows where they will go next?
 
Kyp Durron is fine, joining the Falcon later.  He tells them that his squadron was wiped out by fighters in the Helska system.  He and another were chased by the bugs into hyperspace where his own ship was damaged and the others destroyed. 
 
Strong signals begin appearing on the screen.  They contact the convoy and tell them to head to Dubrillion as quickly as possible. Those without hyperspace capability will be towed by tractor beams.  Han sends the fastest ships through first to warn Lando to have his defenses up.  They won’t beat the enemy there by much.
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#22
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chapter 19: The Perfection of Teamwork:
 
At Dubrillion, Lando assures Han they have more cannons than people to operate them.  Han can only tell Lando that the cargo got unloaded on Sernpidal, reminding him that they never would have been there if he hadn’t pressured them to go.
 
Lando points out that, if Han hadn’t gone there, Chewie might be alive, but thousands of people on Sernpidal wouldn’t be, including Kyp, and they would have no idea what they were facing.
 
As it is, they have the option of burrowing into the planet to take shelter and let the enemy have the sky.  Han, having seen what happened at Sernpidal, cannot believe all of these incidents aren’t connected.  The enemy fighters might not be able to get to them below-ground, but that won’t stop Dubrillion’s big moon from coming down on them.
 
Leia rushes in and throws herself into Han’s arms, telling him Anakin told her what had happened.  Han isn’t prepared to talk about his frustration, his grief or his anger at this time, but Leia doesn’t realize that.  She keeps pushing to find out what’s wrong and Han finally blurts out that Anakin left Chewie behind and storms off.
 
Jacen stops at the door to the room where Anakin is explaining to Jaina what happened.  He tells her that the air was compressing and that they had maybe four seconds to leave.  Jacen steps in and assures Anakin that he couldn’t have rescued Chewie and left in that small amount of time.
 
If he’d tried, the Falcon would have crashed on top of Chewie or beside him and they would have all died.  Their father is angry because he’s lost his best friend of many decades.  It’s not really about what Anakin did or didn’t do.  Chewbacca would be angrier than anyone if they’d tried to save him at the cost of their own lives.  Death is hard enough without knowing your loved ones are dying because of you.  It’s no different than the future Luke would have sacrificed had he tried to save Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Chewbacca saved his best friend’s son and died content in that knowledge.
 
Knowing Anakin is about to cry and not wanting to do the same in front of his siblings, Jacen takes off, while Jaina holds their younger brother.
 
Far from the Core, the Rejuvenator is the closest New Republic warship and it’s three days away.  Han can’t help but wonder if the enemy ships are accelerating their pursuit.  If so, they should have overwhelmed the last of the refugee ships.  The fact that they haven’t done that leads him to worry that he’s led them to Dubrillion.
 
They can get a call to Coruscant but the New Republic has too many problems closer to home.  Their response is likely to be an explorer ship or a squadron of X-Wings.  Han is planning to fight in the Falcon.  Leia offers to be his co-pilot.  Jacen, Jaina and Anakin want to fly starfighters over their father’s protests.
 
Han and Leia allow it so long as they stay close to the planet’s defenses. 
 
In the Falcon, Kyp takes the gunnery pod, when the enemy comes in system.  There are huge numbers of ships.  Leia heads to the other gun well. 
 
For a long time, the shields reinforcing the TIEs work well until they are taken down.  At that point, Jaina doesn’t see a point in staying close to the planet anymore and urges her brothers to head out further with her.
 
When it becomes apparent that the space battle is lost, Han decides to head back to the planet and let the turbolasers take charge.  He is furious when the children want to cover the retreat.  Leia knows his fear for his children is compounded by Chewbacca’s death.
 
It gets worse when they decide to enter Lando’s Folly without shields.
 
The enemy hasn’t navigated the asteroids the way they have.  It’s still dangerous, until Anakin reaches out with the Force and urges his siblings to join with him.  Together, they fly together joined in thought and purpose, untouched by the starfighters.
 
The sensation is too much and the bond breaks.  They decide to break out of the Folly with enemy ships hitting asteroids.  Jacen and Jaina head out, but Anakin clips an asteroid that sends him spinning out of control.  He pumps the yokes and is then shot out of the Folly, hearing Jaina call for him before blackness takes him.
 
Han and Leia watch it happen from the cockpit.  Jacen assures them Anakin leapt to hyperspace, but it was an unplanned jump so he could be anywhere.  Han orders both of them back to Dubrillion while he and their mother go to find him.
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#23
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chapter 20: Point of View:
 
The enemy are retreating and the denizens at Dubrillion understand that it was the work of the Solos for taking out many of the fighters by leading them through the asteroid field. 
 
Jacen assures Jaina that Anakin is fine.  The experience of their flying while bonded was exhilarating.  Jacen allows that training alone might have been a mistake.  Jaina tells him Anakin had pondered such a link for awhile as part of a Jedi squadron.
 
Jacen decides that he and Anakin may be able to have a serious discussion about their differing viewpoints.
 
Anakin is having the same thought, wishing he’d learned more through meditation so he wouldn’t have been overwhelmed during the battle.  He can accept his own death if only his failure hasn’t cost the lives of his brother and sister.
 
Da’Gara reports that the exercise at Dubrillion was just a probe to test their defenses.  For the time being, the coralskippers will pound Destrillion in order to bring out their enemies again.  A larger fleet is on the way to protect the planet.
 
Further, the yammosk is about to spawn. They can use the second yammosk to establish a second base.  Though he’s not heard from Yomin Carr, the metamorphosis of Belkadan is nearing completion.
 
Han tries to figure out where Anakin could have gone while venting at how foolish his children were to lead enemy fighters into an asteroid field.  Leia knows exactly where they get that foolishness from, but is distracted by the sense of her son’s presence.
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#24
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chapter 21: False Serenity:
 
Lando explains to Luke that they found a living ship that had crashed during the battle.  The ship is completely organic and the pilot is connected to it the way a Tusken would be to a Bantha.
 
They are testing the mask that the pilot was wearing but no one wants to put it on yet.  The body of the pilot resembles Yomin Carr’s. Luke pulls the helmet and mask over his head and feels a type of joining.  He also hears a voice like the one that came from the ball they’d taken aboard the Sabre.
 
He takes it off and tells Lando they need C 3PO.
 
When he steps out into the hallway, he sees the look on Mara’s face and knows something is wrong.  Lando had thought they might have picked up communications coming in and already knew. 
 
He lets Mara tell him.  Luke and Mara spend time grieving the loss of their friend, but they cannot take too long.  There is something big out there and they have to get to work.
 
Luke tells Lando that the key is Helska 4 which he believes is a base.  He wants to get down into it.  Lando has a prototype fleet at Destrillion that includes ships of every type of mining vessel, including one that can mine an ice world. 
 
Luke stars out at the serenity of the starry night, hearing the call from his missing nephew and knowing that Leia has heard it, too.
 
Through the Force, Leia sees the star formations through Anakin’s eyes and leads them to the right system where they put the TIE in tow and Anakin boards the Falcon, rushing into his mother’s arms.  He is more tentative with his father, but Han jumps out of his seat, embraces his son and tells him he’ll kick him back to Coruscant if he ever does that again.
 
When they return to Dubrillion, Lando is showing Luke a specialized ship called an iceborer that doesn’t look promising.  Lando will have it towed to the Helska system.  Jacen calls that his parents are back with Anakin.  Luke knows that they’ll have C 3PO with them.
 
The protocol droid doesn’t find the language difficult at all.  He translates the message they’d intercepted which amounts to the movement of the Praetorite Vong being underway.  He cannot tell them where it comes from, however.
 
They stick him in the captured ship and put the mask over his head.  C 3PO is able to tell them that the ship is a coraskipper, bred to serve.  It’s propelled by firing its weapons and refuels by eating rocks.  There’s a second propulsion system which is tied to the creature in the nose of the ship which focuses gravity fields.  Luke wonders if the loss of his shields at Helska could be tied to this creature.
 
He knows that Belkadan, Helsa, Dubrillion and Sernpidal are all related. 
 
In the meantime, the Rejuvenator has arrived with several new gunships.
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#25
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chapter 22: Turning it Back:
 
Mara doesn’t think the iceborer will work, regardless of what Lando says.  Anakin doesn’t believe his uncle is considering taking that ship down to Helska wearing the mask and suit they found on the pilot.
 
Jacen doesn’t believe Luke should be the one to go.  Mara is piloting the carry ship that will tow the borer to Helska.  Jaina is more worried about her.  Knowing their uncle and aunt plan to fly the thing out before the fleet docks, Jaina thinks she can fly the iceborer and Jacen can take the carry ship.  They’ll leave a message with Artoo.
 
Commander Rojo thinks they should leave the gunships here at Dubrillion and take the Rejuvenator to Helska.  Leia urges him to wait six more days until reinforcements arrive. 
 
Rojo is confident he can handle the situation and Leia, with no official government status, really can’t order him to do anything.  Luke is about to say something when he notices the iceborer and the carry ship, the Merry Miner, moving out of dock. 
 
He runs out into the hallway, running into C 3PO who has come to tell him about a message from Jacen.  Leia activates R2’s hologram recorder.  Her son explains that he and Jaina believe Luke is needed with the main attack force so they have decided to go to Helska instead.
 
Luke has to admit they are right, but he wishes they had come to him first.  He has to grab Han, who is about to get to the Falcon, telling him that his children are becoming Jedi Knights who can’t turn away from duty.  He cannot keep them with him forever.
 
Rojo would like to send ships with them.  Luke reminds him that the enemy could be lying in wait for warships if they spot the carry ship entering the system.  Rojo doesn’t think this enemy is anything to worry about.  They are smugglers who’ve come up with some innovative technology, that’s all.
 
Han decides that the Falcon is going anyway.  Kyp will be leading a starfighter squadron, so Han, Leia, Lando and Anakin will be going to Helska.
 
Jaina brings them in perfectly using the coordinates Luke had fed into the navicomputer.  Jacen isn’t very comfortable, laying down in the iceborer, wearing only a skirt they’d found on the pilot. 
 
He warns her to leave the system if she’s found.  Jaina knows she would never leave her brother behind. 
 
As the borer propels toward the planet, he prompts the living suit and mask which covers him.  There are coralskippers coming up over the horizon. After he adjusts to the mask, he can sense someone calling for help.  He fires a heat blast which allows the ship to plunge into the water.
 
Jaina picks up the ships and watches the borer land on the planet.  She hopes he was able to blast through the crust.  Skirting close to sun to keep them off of her, she doesn’t take long before she’s spotted. 
 
Underwater, Jacen ejects from the ship and swims toward the base, wondering how he will communicate with anyone he finds. 
 
Jaina is thrilled to see the Rejuvenator, the Falcon, the Jade Sabre and multiple other ships and starfighters.
 
Jacen is waved in, obviously being mistaken for one of them.  Through watching their body language, he interprets a class system in which he is likely a very low-ranking member.  He takes his cues from them and enters a room in which a beautiful woman and a Jedi he recognizes as Miko Reglia are kept.   He realizes that it was the woman who called for help, mentally, and not Miko.
 
One of the beings speaks to Miko in Basic, telling him it’s time to die.  The woman tells Miko to fight it because they’re just going to fake it again.  Another warrior looks at Jacen and gestures at the lightsaber on his belt.
 
Realizing he’s probably been discovered, he pulls out the weapon, cuts the leg off of the warrior and prompts Miko to go.  He needs only one look to tell him that his comrade is a broken man.
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