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?