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"Dark Tide I: Onslaught": Book 2 in The New Jedi Order

chapter discussion thread

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#1
Jedi Cool

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Dark Tide I: Onslaught
 
Prologue:
 
The pirate ship Free Lance, captained by Urias Xhaxin, is headed toward a raid when it exits hyperspace in the middle of nowhere.  It’s supposed to be empty here, but there’s a burning freighter, surrounded by life pods and yachts.  An asteroid appears to be hanging there, but it’s orbited by several others that look just like it and start attacking the yachts.
 
Xhaxin orders the shields up.  There are gravitic anomalies everywhere.  Their fighters are losing shields.  The Free Lance takes a hit. He orders a blind jump.  Wondering who their attackers are, space explodes as the ship jumps to lightspeed.
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  • The time is still 25 ABY.

 


#2
Jedi Cool

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chapter 1:
 
Leia feels as nervous now as she did when she first entered the Imperial Senate.  There are fewer humans now than then.  She can see Cal Omas and the Kuat senator, Viqi Shesh, but not many others.
 
She is accompanied by Danni Quee who had survived an attack and capture by an aggressive alien force on the Outer Rim.   She and Danni are hoping to apprise the New Republic of this threat and enlist their support.
 
The Chief of State, Borsk Fey’lya, introduces her to the council.  She explains that she is here to inform them of a previously-unknown species that has launched a series of attacks in the Outer Rim.  They wiped out the ExGal-4 station on Belkadan, attacked Dubrillion, destroyed the Star Destroyer Rejuvenator at Helsa and brought down a moon on Sernpidal.  A base was destroyed at Helsa, but she does not believe the threat is over.
 
She tells them about the ecological change on Belkadan that may have been brought there by an agent of this species who battled Mara Jade Skywalker.  She is interrupted by a senator who points out that she was the same envoy sent to resolve the Rhomamool-Osarian conflict that ended in the death of Nom Anor and starting a war because a Jedi Knight acted too brashly.
 
Her report shows that the warrior on Belkadan used the same kind of anti-droid rhetoric that the Red Knights of Rhomamool used. Several senators believe she is linking the Rhomamool –Osarian conflict to this alien race.  Since the Rhomamoolians could not even protect their own leader, it doesn’t make sense that they have the technology to accomplish all she’s claimed.
 
Leia notes that she does not believe the alien on Belkadan was a member of the Red Knights, although she does allow it’s possible the Rhomamoolian faction is part of a wider conspiracy.
 
Niuk Niev thinks this whole story is an excuse to deflect attention from the failure of her brother to keep his Jedi Knights from running amok around the galaxy, doing whatever they want.  Others point out that hyperspace disturbances make travel to and from their galaxy impossible, that there have been no more sightings of these aliens since her supposed destruction of their base and she has no credible physical evidence. 
 
Assuming that Leia is just trying to hold on to power a little longer, they are dismissive of her claims.  She realizes that none of them will listen because they do not want to. 
 
Elegos A’Kla speaks up and chastises the council for speaking to her this way.  He is accused of having pro-Jedi loyalties and is supporting Leia because of her family’s support of his people.  Senator Pwoe warns him that guilt over the Caamasi plight only goes so far. 
 
Leia is proud that they want to claim the New Republic for their own, but is disappointed that they are turning on themselves.  Diversity has always been the strength of the New Republic.  She will leave all they’ve learned about the invaders in the hopes they will find it useful when they decide to consider it. 
 
In the meantime, she and Senator A’Kla will be pursuing more information.  Fey’lya reminds her to tread carefully and not allow her curiosity to breed treason.  Leia reminds him that history will judge the wisdom of a treason charge should the threat be real.
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  • According to the chapter, it’s been about two months since Vector Prime.
  • I do realize that there are self-serving members of the Senate, some of whom are hostile toward the Jedi and anyone they deem friendly with them.  However, I really found the Senate grilling to be ridiculous.  They surely have battle records and other data from Belkadan and Dubrillion, the download from Artoo showing the ExGal-4 tracking of the comet/asteroid/worldship that came from another galaxy.  Further, for someone who knows how the game is played and has dealt with intense interrogation by the Senate in the past, Leia did a very poor job of keeping them from tripping her up.
  • Elegos A’Kla is the Caamasi friend of Corran Horn’s whom we met in [I, Jedi[/i] and saw again in Vision of the Future. Speaking of the Caamasi, half the galaxy was ready to go to war over them 6 years ago and now A’Kla is being accused of milking sympathy for his people.


#3
Jedi Cool

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chapter 2:
 
Colonel Gavin Darklighter, commanding Rogue Squadron, tells his astromech, Catch, to run the simulation.  He doesn’t see any threats which leads him to wonder why Admiral Kre’fey gave him access to the simulation if there is nothing out here.
 
Bothans are what they are, of course, but Traest Kre’fey is more straightforward than other members of his family. 
 
His console beeps and he checks the image.  An object the shape of a seed seems to be moving of its own accord.  Gavin triggers a blast which seems to be absorbed by the object.
 
The seed moves toward the X-Wing and his alarms start sounding.  Something red appears and shoots toward him.  It hits the nose hard and what appears to be molten rock starts searing the ship.
 
His screens show he lasted 25 seconds before the simulation ends with the destruction of his X-Wing.  Still, he’s told he did very well.
 
At his desk, Gavin looks over the holos of his wife, Sera Faleur, from Chandrila, and the two boys adopted after the Thrawn crisis had orphaned them, holos of children they’d had together.  He had never thought he’d get over the broken heart he’d been left, but Sera had helped him heal.
 
Admiral Kre’fey congratulates him on his simulation.  The admiral himself died in 15 seconds.  He tells Gavin that Leia Organa Solo spoke to the Senate two days ago, trying to warn them of an unknown alien force tht attacked several Rim worlds and wasn’t taken seriously. The simulation was created from data she’d left behind.
 
The whole issue of the Jedi’s role in the New Republic has been heating up for awhile, but came to a head because of one of them causing problems at Rhomamool.  The fact that it was Leia and her Jedi family members who helped repel the invaders doesn’t help. Many think she’s just trying to divert their attention.
 
Gavin has seen enough egos among fighter pilots to know that Jedi are not alone there, but he also knows enough that one doesn’t ditch an ally just because some elements are disruptive.
 
There’s been no indication that the invaders have resurfaced, but they can’t have used such resources to come here for nothing.  They use creatures called dovin basals that are part of the ship. They manipulate gravity to rip down shields.  They are coming up with hypothetical ways to counter that.
 
However, Princess Leia was dismissed in such a way that anyone who seems to be giving her report credence will be looked upon unfavorably.  Kre’fey isn’t exactly at the top of the ladder here, either.  His family lost a lot of credibility after his grandfather failed at Borleias.  The only reason he got as far as he has is because of the number of Bothan military officials who resigned after the Caamas incident. 
 
However, he thinks he can use Rogue Squadron on the Rim, simulating a pirate group, so that his forces out there can pursue.  If it happens that Gavin should run across coralskippers out there, he hopes enough evidence can be brought back that even the Senate can’t ignore.
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  • It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Gavin Darklighter, though he’s doubtlessly been wherever Rogue Squadron has.been spotted. He was 17 years old in Rogue Squadron.  Since a little over 18 years have passed since then, Gavin should be about 35. 
  • Of course, we know that Asyr Sei’lar was his lost love.  I wonder if he ever found out she was still alive?
  • Admiral Kre’fey’s grandfather, Laryn Kre’fey, was shortsighted at Borleias in the book Rogue Squadron and it caused his death.


#4
Jedi Cool

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 chapter 3:
 
Luke Skywalker looks over the memorials on Yavin IV for the students and Jedi he’s lost over the years.  Gantoris, Nichos Marr, Cray Mingla, Dorsk 81 and Miko Reglia.  He wouldn’t be human if he didn’t wonder what he could have done to prevent their deaths.
 
He’s accepted that his experience with the Dark Side blinded him to the needs of his students at first and that he may have not been ready to teach, but, if he had, there would be fewer Jedi now.
 
Corran Horn walks up and tells him they will not be putting a memorial here for Mara.  Luke mentions that the statement could mean the disease won’t kill her or that there won’t be any Jedi left to put a memorial up. 
 
Corran thinks it will be the former this time.  He wants Luke to know that the last shuttle has arrived with Kyp Durron making his usual grand entrance.  Luke doesn’t approve of Corran’s tone.  Corran points out that Kyp makes a dangerous impression on the younger Jedi. They are viewing Miko as a martyr.
 
Luke admits that Kam Solusar and Tionne have expressed the same concerns.  Teaching students in groups before opening them up to being mentored by Jedi Knights has been good, but it does mean that some of Kyp’s cadre do end up teaching the older students.
 
Corran also points out that Kyp’s actions have political repercussions that he doesn’t seem to care about.  This is one of the reasons Luke has called everyone back here: to show who’s in charge.
 
Kyp and his friends deal with pride, acting because they are confident that they are doing the right thing.  It’s not so different from Corran resisting Jedi training for years.  It wasn’t until six years ago that he’d resigned from Rogue Squadron to devote himself to becoming a Jedi Knight.
 
Nevertheless, he thanks Corran for stepping in to help out since Mara fell ill.  Corran points out he gets to see his son, Valin, and daughter, Jysella, who’s spent more time here than at home with her parents.  Luke reminds him that the old Jedi took children from their familes for good.  It probably wasn’t easy at all then.
 
Corran doesn’t think that means that Luke is wrong in taking older students.  It’s just more difficult.  Luke’s done a wonderful job with more Jedi coming out every year.  Luke mentions that the climate on Coruscant is not conducive to proposing a new Council right now.
 
He enters the Grand Audience Chamber to see his Jedi Order.  Kam Solusar with his wife, Tionne.  Corran sitting by his son.  Younger students sitting close, while Jedi Knights and their apprentices grouped together with those of their choosing.  This concerns him because he notices that they seemed to be sitting in factions either opposed to Kyp or in support. 
 
Luke can sense the tension.  After he dismisses the younger students, he tells the remainder that they face two great threats, either or which could destroy the Jedi and both together will.  He asks Kyp to share what he knows about the Yuuzhan Vong.
 
Kyp explains how his Avengers were ambushed by creatures flying living ships which have the power to collapse shields and deflect blaster shots.  They are not easy to kill.  He could not sense them through the Force.  Luke has no idea how this could be, but the New Republic does not believe the Vong are a serious threat. 
 
He also points out that the government is not particularly friendly to Jedi right now, either. Regardless of how this turns out, the Jedi will be in for a lot of things. 
 
Kyp and his friends, Wurth Skidder and Ganner Rhysode, believe the Jedi can handle it and that the New Republic clearly doesn’t know what’s best for the galaxy.  Streen can’t help but comment that they somehow think they do.
 
Kyp responds that disaster strikes when the Jedi are weakened.  If the Order is going to be blamed for what happens, he’d rather it be for acting and not sitting back and waiting.
 
Luke knows that Kyp has worked to change the image of the reckless young man who stole a superweapon and went on a destructive spree, but he thinks it’s premature to speak of attacking anything.  They must prepare for the worst and learn as much as they can.  They are guardians of the peace.  Once they have good intelligence, they can decide what to do.  He is going to be giving them all assignments over the next couple of weeks that will put them in danger.  They cannot afford to be divided among themselves with the galaxy against them.
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  • We all remember the Jedi buried at the memorial site.  Gantoris died in Dark Apprentice, Cray Mingla and Nichos Marr in Children of the Jedi, Dorsk 81 in Darksaber
  • Streen, of course, has been around here and there since his first appearance in Jedi Search.
  • Kam and Tionne are married?  None of the Junior Jedi Knights or Young Jedi Knights books mentioned that and Tionne figured prominently as one of the few adult Jedi appearing in those books.
  • This chapter confirms that Kyp was 16 in Dark Apprentice and is now 32.
  • The last time we saw Corran Horn it was in Spectre of the Past.  That was 6 years ago.  His son, Valin, was a small child of 6. He should now be about 12.  His sister, Jysella, has never been mentioned, though.  She wasn’t in Spectre of the Past, so when was she born?


#5
Jedi Cool

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chapter 4:
 
Elegos A’Kla enters Leia’s suite and waits for her to pack.  The Senate tried to crowd him with work; his daughter, Releqy, will be handling most of it for him. 
 
Leia notices the senator stop and turns to see Han hanging at the doorway.  It’s obvious he’s had too much to drink.  He recognizes Elegos and asks about the strong Caamasi memories.  Elegos confirms that they can share memories with others of significant life events.
 
Han asks how to get rid of memories.  Elegos sadly tells him that he cannot get rid of them.  Han rambles on about the last moments of Chewbacca’s life, what he saw and how it happened, how he’s sure Chewie hated him for letting him down and letting him die.
 
Elegos may not have known Chewbacca personally, but he knows of him. He has also been in similar situations, so he knows how the mind imagines things that didn’t really happen.  His friend didn’t see his death as a failure on Han’s part.  Chewbacca saved his son and his son saved him by flying the ship away.  Chewie died knowing that his friend was still alive.  In time, Han will see the truth of it.
 
Han doesn’t believe he will and is about to storm off when Leia urges him to stay.  She’s about to leave again.  He knows this.  She always does; off to save the galaxy again, while he could not even save one being.
 
C 3PO asks what he should do.  Leia tells him to give Han the list and get one of the old Rogues to keep an eye on him.  Elegos reminds Leia that she can stay here.  She wants to desperately.  But someone has to go and Han will just have to take care of himself.
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#6
Jedi Cool

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chapter 5:
 
Corran brings in Jacen and Anakin for their assignments.  They don’t deem Jaina’s – working with Danni Quee on her Force skills before joining her mother and Senator A’Kla – to be all that great.  They know their own assignments will be much better.  For one, they know Luke won’t want to play favorites; for two, they are young.
 
Anakin is immediately disappointed when Luke wants him to join Mara on Dantooine.  He just knows this is a sign of distrust over his getting Chewbacca killed.  Luke reminds Anakin that it was the Vong who brought about Chewie’s death.  Taking responsibility for that absolves the real culprits.  He also cautions Anakin about assuming that his father blames him.  As for trust, Luke is assigning Anakin to the most important person in his life.  And Mara would hardly accept a job of babysitting an apprentice.  
 
Dantooine is full of life.  Luke hopes that resting there will give Mara a chance to recover.  He would be grateful if Anakin would help her.
 
On the other hand, Jacen doesn’t want an assignment at all.  He accepts that Luke’s teacher shaped him into a weapon for a purpose, but he’s not sure that hasn’t affected Luke’s teaching.  Meditating on the Force is important.  Perhaps, each Jedi needs to strengthen himself from within first.  Luke understands this.  But he needs Jacen.  They are going to Belkadan to find out what the Vong agent was up to there.
 
As for Corran, he’s got the second most dangerous assignment.  The system MZX33291 was mapped by Imperial surveyers who may have had a research team on the fifth planet, called Bimmiel.  The University of Agamar sent their own team out several months before and they haven’t been heard from since.  They would like the Jedi to investigate.
 
Since it is a Rim world, it’s possible the Vong are there.  The Imperials made the planet off-limits to everyone with no real reason why.   Corran will be taking Ganner Rhysode with him.  Ganner isn’t excited about the assignment either.  He could probably evacuate the team himself, but, if the Vong are there, he’s likely to launch a preemptive strike which would endanger the others.  Corran will be in charge.  Besides having a Jedi along who can do telekinesis, perhaps Corran’s way of doing things will provide an alternative example to Ganner.
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  • In “I, Jedi” chapter 26, Corran told Luke that he felt Kenobi and Yoda had trained him as a weapon, as well.

 


#7
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chapter 6:
 
Corran is proud of his son, but sad at how the boy struggles to move objects.  At 11, Valin is clearly going to favor his grandfather in terms of height, though.  He watches the boy concentrate hard on moving a rock.  When the rock falls over, Corran exclaims how proud he is.
 
Valin tells him he didn’t really move the rock. He convinced the small garnants that the rock was food, so they moved it over for him.  Corran still thinks it was a creative way to do it.  Valin doubts he will be a powerful Jedi if he can’t even move a rock.  His father cautions him that some Jedi move rocks just because they can.  
 
Ganner Rhysode appears and tells Valin that his father is just trying to tell him to get used to being weak.
 
Valin gathers the Force until his father cautions him to stop.  Ganner doubts Valin could do much to hurt him anyway.  Corran sends him off to meet his mother and sister for now, then asks Ganner why he wants to speak privately.  Ganner acknowledges that Corran is officially in charge, but he’s not going to tolerate interference.
 
Corran iterates that he is in charge.  Ganner’s attitude seems to be that his – and Kyp’s  - philosophy is more important than the mission.  Corran doesn’t always disagree with the stands they take, but he doesn’t like the viewpoint behind them: that the Jedi deserve the respect of the galaxy, rather than earning it.
 
Ganner points out that the Jedi defeated the Empire.  Clarifying that only one Jedi did that, Corran reminds him that Luke has earned the respect he has.  That respect doesn’t automatically extend to every Jedi.   In CorSec, people who thought they were the ones who had to decide what was right and what was wrong ended up causing resentment.  A Jedi will do the same.
 
Ganner reminds him of how he used his powers on Courkrus to terrorize people.  The methods are the same.   Corran argues that Courkrus was a planet ruled by outlaws and pirates.  He used their fear against them to break up their governance.  He caused them to fear the arrival of justice.  All Ganner’s friends do is stand around judging people.
 
Ganner slaps at a garnantt and points out they keep people from falling to the Dark Side that way.  Corran tells him fear is a path to the Dark Side.  If Ganner doesn’t want interference, he shouldn’t interfere with Corran.  Their mission is to find some researchers and bring them home.  Ganner doubts that will be so simple.  He thinks the Vong are a storm that will eventually flare up.  He thinks they will be on that world and many others.  He plans to be ready.
 
Slapping at another insect, Ganner thinks Corran doesn’t get that the Vong are invaders and need to be driven out.
 
Corran reminds him they are only to save the academics.  Missing little things seems to be Ganner’s problem as the other man continues to be annoyed by insects.  Ganner accuses him of siccing the bugs on him.   Corran didn’t, but knows who did.  Valin needs to be reminded not to use the Force to play pranks.  He has a mental image of Ganner being swarmed by Vong, not garnants.  Storming off to clean up, Ganner tells him not to get in his way.  Corran doesn’t have any intention of doing that unless Ganner forces him to.  Then they’ll see who the stronger Jedi is.
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  • We first met Valin Horn in Spectre of the Past
  • Corran was on Courkrus in I, Jedi
  • And I’m very concerned that Luke has a Jedi who would mock an 11-year old boy for his weaknesses in the Force.


#8
Jedi Cool

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chapter 7:
 
Luke finds Mara resting. She had been expecting Anakin.  She offers to go alone if Luke can’t spare him.  They discuss how beneficial this trip will be for both of them.  She understands what it’s like to feel responsible for the death of a significant person in her life.  But she doubts he wants to be stuck with a sick old lady.
 
Luke admits that Anakin accepts the assignment, regardless of his feelings about it.  However, he’s also worried about how close to the Rim Dantooine is.  Mara points out that Dantooine has never been a military target.  Luke isn’t sure the Vong prioritize the same way.  If that’s the case, they will need someone scouting out the place anyway.
 
Besides, Mara is only going where the Vong might show up; Luke is going someplace where they have.  He may or may not find a cure for her illness, but the most important thing is to find out of it’s connected to them somehow.
 
They will miss each other.  But this was the life they signed up for.
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  • Dantooine may not have been a military target, but it’s hardly been ignored in the past.

 


#9
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chapter 8:
 
Gavin Darklighter clears the launch bay of the Bothan Assault Cruiser Ralroost and watches the rest of the squadron emerge. There’d been discussions about how foolish building the ships had been since peace had been made with the Imperial Remnant, however, Gavin is glad they were built.
 
He forms up the wings, assigning the others to Major Inyri Forge and Major Alinn Varth.  It’s strange calling women Rogues 5 and 9, when most of his flying career has been spent addressing Corran, Hobbie, Janson or Tycho.  Of course, lead was always Wedge.  Now it’s Gavin.
 
The star system doesn’t have a name because there’s really nothing here.  That changed when a freighter scouting asteroids for salvage was attacked by fighters of unknown origin.  The Ralroost has been sent and Rogue Squadron temporarily stops pretending to be pirates and is now searching for them.
 
They encounter a group of Uglies, ships cobbled together from a variety of other kinds of ships, and are surprised to find their shields are down and they don’t seem to have working sensors.
 
Gavin comms the freighter accompanying them and finds he’s dealing with Captain Urias Xhaxin of the Free Lance.  He tells the captain to order his forces to stand down.  In their condition, they don’t stand a chance of winning a fight.
 
The pirates are taken to the Ralroost where Gavin meets with Admiral Kre’fey.  The admiral tells him Xhaxin used to raid Imperial shipping and prey on Imperials during the warlord period.  Since then, his activities have made him a low priority for the New Republic 
 
Xhaxin tells them that his operation was to lure in people wanting to travel by convoy from Garqi to the Remnant.  Then he would attack the convoy and capture them all.  This time, he arrived at the convoy to find they’d already been attacked.  The ships involved were not like anything he’d ever seen. 
 
They had to plot a blind jump out of the system which blew their hyperdrive motivators.  He doesn’t think the old Imperial bounty on him is still valid, but there are still plenty of people out there who will pay for his capture. 
 
Kre’fey assures him that any information he has on these attackers is worth far more than any old bounty on him.  He wants to know everything the captain learned about these attackers.
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  • First appearance of Alinn Varth
  • Inyri Forge has been with Rogue Squadron for years.  She first appeared in Wedge’s Gamble.


#10
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chapter 9:
 
Danni and Jaina are greeted by Leia in the office given to her by the Agamarian Council.  She looks over their outfits and asks if Elegos thinks this will work.  He points out that she’s read the respect for tradition and family accurately, but not all people are alike.
 
After reminding Danni that she only needs to tell the council what happened, Elegos leads her first.  Jaina tells Leia that she really feels underused here.  She doesn’t mind teaching Danni a few things, but she’s not a diplomat.
 
Leia asks what’s really bothering her.  Jaina admits that she feels strange when her mother uses the Force.  She’s a good diplomat, but she would be much better if she were really a Jedi.  She doesn’t even wear her lightsaber.
 
Leia tells her that the choices she made were the ones she felt was best at the time.  She made them to help others like her children and their father and the New Republic.  She may not use the Force as well as Jaina does, but she uses it to get done the things that need to get done.
 
They are ushered into the Council chambers, too. Leia introduces those she’s brought with her.  Danni speaks first, telling them how theories of extragalactic travel are wrong and that she’s seen evidence of that.  She tells them about the Yuuzhan Vong which are able to mimic humans well, who use organic technology and whose motives are unknown. 
 
Leia picks up and tells them she is not an official envoy for the New Republic and they will doubtless receive messages from the government reminding them of that.  She went to Coruscant to ask for help, but was dismissed.  It is up to the Rim worlds to protect themselves from this onslaught.  She tells them that she knows Agamar will step up like it has in the past. 
 
They applaud her.  The council speaker tells her they appreciate her honesty and will give her more consideration than Coruscant did. There are people here who prefer to rebuild Agamar, so she cannot say what the decision will ultimately be.  However, she does promise Leia that any refugees will be welcome here.
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  • There are references to Keyan Farlander, a rebel pilot retconned into the OT, who was from Agamar.

  • Both Jaina and Leia claim that Leia’s Jedi training is incomplete.  Not according to Luke in our previous books.  He even gave her an extra lightsaber to mark the occasion.  Regardless of how much we think of Leia’s skills with the Force, and they are a mixed bag, why are they saying her training wasn’t completed?

 


#11
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chapter 10:
 
Corran and Ganner arrive at Bimmiel to find the communications satellite damaged.  There are no indications as to what damaged it, the atmosphere seems normal for the planet and there is life down there. 
 
They land near the camp where the sand settles around the bottom of the ship. They exit via the topside hatch.  The sandy wind gusts around them as they walk toward the encampment.
 
Along the way, they are attacked by several predators, one of which leaves a gash across Corran’s thigh.  By the time they are finished warding them off, an old woman comes out of a nearby cave and identifies them as Jedi.  Only fools or Jedi would cross the killing field of the slashrats.  Since they have lightsabers, they must be Jedi, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fools.
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#12
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chapter 11:
 
Jacen is impatient for them to get the mission started as they grow closer to Belkadan.  It’s not unusual for beings to change a planet’s ecology to suit them, but it’s remarkable that the Vong did this so quickly.  There is life here, too, but nothing malignant.
 
He’s bothered by this because Danni’s stories leave him no doubt the Vong are evil.  It also bothers him that they cannot register through the Force.  This leads him to question whether Luke developed the Jedi correctly.  They are now faced with a threat that leaves the Jedi at a disadvantage.
 
They must be part of the Force in some way.  Maybe contemplating the Force more would give him the ability to understand them, but doing so would make him feel guilty.  His parents had set an example of helping others.  For him to take time for himself when others need help would be selfish.  At the same time, he’s watched them and Luke give up normal lives to devote themselves to others.
 
They’d made up for it by being nurturing parents who spent time with the children whenever they could.  Their relationships with Jacen mean so much to him which is why he feels so wrong questioning their view of the Force.  He understands it in a way Luke never can because he grew up being aware of the Force. 
 
There is life on this world, but it seems off somehow, as if it was worn away or diseased.  They weren’t here weeks ago when Luke and Mara came.  Jacen wonders if Mara feels that way to Luke.  Luke thinks this is different, but it could be indicative of the last stages of the disease.
 
There is less sulfur in the air now and the creeping green ground cover that is spreading over the station wasn’t there now.  Luke gives Jacen goggles and cautions him to use his eyes as his best defense against a Vong warrior.
 
Inside, they find a decapitated R5 unit.  They can only take it as a warning.
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#13
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chapter 12:
 
At the camp site on Dantooine, Anakin brings all the equipment out and sets up their tents, builds a fire pit and thinks about food.
 
The native Dantari roam along the coasts as simple people.  They probably never knew Admiral Daala had destroyed a colony here when Anakin was a year old.  The prevalence of nature over technology is what they hope will help Mara recuperate.
 
Seeing a crate slipped out of alignment, he reaches out with the Force.  Mara tells him not to do that.  He tells her she should have let him help her.  She tells him she’ll ask for help when she wants it.  He remembers that from when they were landing the Jade Sabre.
 
Mara understands what he’s saying.  She tells him that she landed the ship because she wanted to, not because she doesn’t trust him.  The Jade Sabre means a lot to her, not just because it’s the only way off the planet, but because of how Luke gave it to her to thank her for sacrificing her old ship. 
 
She apologizes for him having to be here when he would rather be out saving the galaxy.  She also tells him to stop trivializing the Force. He uses it for everything, including moving the supplies from the ship.  He reminds her that size matters not.
 
Mara points out that Yoda used those words to confront Luke with his self-doubt, to show how powerful the Force can be when mastered, not as an excuse.
 
Anakin thinks he has mastered it.  He’s been trained to use it after all.  Mara tells him that knowing how to use it is different from knowing when.  The way Anakin uses the Force is like always shouting and not being able to hear a whisper.  Luke used to do that, too, until the war ended and he realized he was missing the more subtle aspects of the Force.
 
She points out that he doesn’t know if he could have set up this camp himself.  Her early training consisted of more than just using the Force.  She learned how to fight, climb, swim and other activities that would have been easier using the Force, but she didn’t because she learned to rely on herself.
 
It helped her to know her limits and to gain an appreciation for what others, who don’t have the Force, can do.  That’s why Kyp and his friends come across so cold.  They come in and impose a solution, but it might not be the right one.   If you do everything for someone, you leave them dependent on you to come in and rescue them again and again. He also cannot protect people from the consequences of their own decisions.  If he does, he sets himself as knowing what is better for them than they do. 
 
She offers to help him carry some firewood.  They’ll both learn their limits today.
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  • I’m not sure how Mara could learn to do those things without the Force. It’s not like a Jedi can turn the Force off, right?

 
 
 


#14
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chapter 13:
 
Corran introduces himself and Ganner and starts to tell the woman why they are here, but she and her two male companions pull their blasters up. She says she knows why they’re here and they won’t get away with it.
 
Ganner uses the Force to flip the weapons up and raise the young men holding them into the air. Corran orders him to put them down and asks the woman why she thinks they’re here.
 
Her name is Anki Pace and she is running this archeological survey for the University of Agamar.  She recognizes Corran’s name and remembers he was a Rogue.  She knew Koyi Komad, whom Corran also knew.  He mentions Koyi got married 15 years ago to a Quarren who was also in the squadron.  Anki was at the wedding.
 
She tells him that various significant archeological sites have suffered thefts recently of items that are believed to be related to the Old Republic Jedi Knights.  These are valuable because of the rarity of them due to the Emperor’s purges.  On one dig, a student was left to watch over a dig at night.  When she was found the next morning, the artifacts were gone and she couldn’t remember anything from the last two years of her life.
 
Corran remembers how Kyp erased Qwi Xux’s memories and it had taken her years to get back to normal.  He turns to Ganner and questions him.  Ganner denies knowing anything about thefts and would never stoop to it himself.
 
Corran notes that some artifacts have shown up on Yavin IV for study.  His wife brokered deals for some of them so he would have known if there were questions about their origins.
 
Pace thinks he’s just trying to make her think that.  When Ganner is outraged at being called a thief, one of the young men points out his parents came from Carida so there are worse things to call a Jedi.
 
Corran asks if they’ve sent out any messages about their findings.  She admits they haven’t because the satellite isn’t working.  One of her companions mention that the Jedi have visions of the future that could have led them here.  Ganner assures them the ability is rare and not easily controlled.  Besides, if they could see the future so well, they would have come here before the researchers did and removed the objects then.
 
Corran explains that there have been reports of raiding out there and the university asked them to go check in on the team because they’d not been heard from.  She asks if they are human raiders.  Ganner tells her that they believe non-human.  Anki ushers them into her cave where a horrid smell is emitting.
 
She has one of her team members, Trista Orlanis, explain what it is.  She tells them that the original Imperial survey team never found the slashrats when they came here.  The smell is rendered slashrats several days old.  They find that the death scent keeps the living ones away. 
 
As for the raiders, she shows Corran a chamber they found after taking refuge in the cave.  Inside they found bones of a non-human being. They think it’s been here for about 40-50 years.  It killed at least two slashrats.  There are some weapons here, too.
 
Corran remembers the images of the Yuuzhan Vong corpses.  He tells Dr. Pace that this is probably one of the raiders and, if they’ve been here once, they may be back.
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  • 40-50 years would be about right if the Yuuzhan Vong are also related to the dangerous threat discovered by Sidious & Thrawn.
  • Koyi Komad was introduced in the Rogue Squadron comic books and appeared in a couple of the X-Wing books.  She married fellow pilot Nrin Vakil.


#15
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chapter 14:
 
They find destroyed technology everywhere in the station.  There seems to be some spiritual aspect to this rejection of machinery.  The greenery growing outside hasn’t made it in here yet.  Luke thinks they should check the tower to see if it can still send signals.  They are here to find out information, but they won’t take foolish chances.
 
After setting up a communications relay with R2, they wander throught the jungle, examining the changed plant life and other life forms. Near the village, they spot several aliens and a few humans stumbling along barefooted.  There are growths on their bodies and their life energies are off. 
 
Luke and Jacen speculate that the Vong are capturing some beings to use as slaves.  They watch the work and realize that the plants growing here are solar collectors that are channeling energy into the valley.  They’re growing coralskippers.
 
They move to another area that is completely overgrown, but has a huge object that looks like a sealed coralskipper.  It might be defective in some way.  The soil around it is sterile, too. Certain types of crops can do that to soil.  They take a sample for analyization later.  A small lake of water appears to be growing different sizes of villips.
 
They witness a group of slaves toiling near the lake and a Yuuzhan Vong warrior kill one that slips into the water by accident.  Jacen argues that they need to free these suffering people.  Luke wants to, as well, but it’s not practical and isn’t part of their mission.
 
Jacen wonders whether it will be detrimental to the New Republic or just make it harder for Luke to save Mara.  Luke asks if that why he thinks they are here.  Jacen admits that he believes his uncle would do anything to save his wife.  He is sorry he said it, though.
 
Luke knows this, but Jacen must agree that they can do nothing for the slaves now.  After all, aren’t these types of missions the kind Jacen has been arguing against?  As smart as he is, as much training as he’s had, he’s only had 16 years of experience.  Having more doesn’t make hard decisions easier, but it does mean one knows they have to be made.
 
Jacen is obviously dissatisfied with this.  When Luke suggests they go back to the station before nightful, Jacen shrugs it off as as least being a plan.  Luke gets a ripple at the tone but no vision of what might happen on this world.  He reminds Jacen that some problems have no easy solution.
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#16
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chapter 15:
 
After peace had been made with the Imperial Remnant, Wedge Antilles and Tycho Celchu had retired and presented Gavin with a ring signifying him as the new leader of Rogue Squadron.  Corran, Wes and Hobbie all followed with their own retirement.
 
Supported by a good staff, Gavin was faced with rebuilding the squadron. 
 
Now, they are out reconnoitering the area where the Free Lance was attacked to get more data.  They find plenty of wreckage and get sensor blips with nothing the targeting computer recognizes as a ship. 
 
Half-a-dozen targets come out that look like nothing they’ve seen.  The targeting computers will have a hard time believing those are ships. Gavin has his wingman, Karal Nevil, come up his port.  They cruise in, but the computer refuses to give either a lock until they are one kilometer away.  Confirming that the torpedo seems to be absorbed as if it were entering a black hole, Gavin has his pilot switch to new combat programming.
 
Gavin rolls out and comes in for another run.  He changes his weapons to laser fire and quads them so all four will fire at once, hits the trigger and causes another burst of energy to be sent out.  The black hole swallows it. 
 
Gaving hits the auxiliary trigger button and the laserse begins cycling faster than they would in shingle-fire mode.  The bolts are shorter and less powerful; they are also producing a cloud of shots that don’t do much damage, but they cannot be distinguished from the heavier bolts.
 
The skip positions a black hole to pick up the scattered shots and another to absorb damage Nevil is sending.  It evades, but doesn’t fly gracefully.  Another hole goes up at the tail, but it’s closer to the ship.  Some of his shots strike the nose.
 
The ship shifts as more shots hit it, then Gavin sends a full-powered volley of quads against it.  Three of the bolts superheat the mineral flesh, produce rock vapor and propels the now-dead fighter into space. 
 
Two gravitic anomalies hit his ship and he knows this is how shields are stripped.  He punches the life-maintenance system controls and boosts it to 100%.  He has his astromech expands the field to 13 meters, beyond the shield area.  This inertial compensator treats the gravity beams like any other stress on the ship.  He pushes the throttle forward and the skip disappears from his rear screen.
 
Nevil gets it with a proton torpedo.
 
They fly back around another coralskipper flies directly toward Gavin’s fighter.  He doesn’t understand what it’s trying to do.  He sends more laser bursts out which are absorbed by another void far sooner than normal.  In fact, the void is so poiwerful that it starts sucking Gavin in.
 
He reverses thrust and start sending proton torpedoes out which are contained by the black hole.  His rate of descent slows down, so he flicks his thrust and picks up speed.  His shields collapse, his sensor screens blink and the skip is gone.  Nevil and Rogue 7, Ligg Panat, took care of it.
 
Rogue 8 has lost an engine, both Rogues 11 and 12 are dead.  Gavin sends his team back, telling them to be careful.  They did alright against a mere 6 coralskippers, but there may be more hiding and he doesn’t want to be surprised.
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  • First appearance of Karal Nevil and Ligg Panat.

 


#17
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chapter 16:
 
Bolpuhr beats Leia to the ramp of the Fond Memory which it lands on Dubrillion.  She hugs Lando, glad he’s alright.  He tells her his world is not.  The pristine cityscape now reminds her Corsucant after it was bombarded by the Emperor or Thrawn.
 
He tells her that it’s all over.  The Vong returned a week and a half after the New Republic forces left.  They send a few coralskippers at a time.  Dubrillion fights back but gets less and less of their forces each time.  It’s as if they are culling the weak from their ranks.
 
He supposes she is bringing nothing from the New Republic.  She introduces him to Senator A’Kla of the fact-finding mission. Lando urges him to find facts fast before they’re blasted away.  Leia’s never seen him so frustrated.   Dubrillion’s defenses are mobile and being hidden.  When the Vong show up, they are harassed with fighters that steer them to the areas where the guns can engage them.  They’re learning, though.
 
He’s seen their command ship lurking near the asteroid belt. He can even show a holo of it. 
 
Jaina offers to take Danni on a tour of the planet, even though Dubrillion is rather miserable right now.  Danni asks if she wouldn’t rather spend time with her mother.  Jaina has had enough of being cooped up with the princess who saved the galaxy.
 
Danni is surprised at this attitude.  Jaina asks if she never wanted to escape from her mother’s shadow.  Danni tells her about the mother who encouraged her to look at the stars.  She thinks she’s done well, following her mother’s field. 
 
Jaina explains that she had a choice between being a smuggler who saved the galaxy or a diplomat who saved the galaxy.  The choice to be a Jedi was made for her because she was born strong in the Force, but, as least, it’s something neither of her parents became.  Of course, she’s a twin so everyone assumes she and her brother are exactly alike.
 
Dannie asks who Jaina Solo is.
 
Jaina isn’t sure.  She’s a good pilot, not a bad Jedi, but tired of being her mother’s daughter and her father’s daughter.  There are people who treat her as a savior because she’s a Jedi and people who think they’re doomed for the same reason.
 
Danni may only be 21, but she remembers being 16 and not wanting advice.  However, people have a choice when they start to look at who they are.  Some people use others as an example of how to be.  Others try to be the opposite of someone.  That strategy is unwise because it causes one to push away part of who they are.  She thinks that Jaina can be her own person even if she embraces some of her mother’s qualities.
 
The landing bay is packed with people who desperately want food and supplies.  The suffering is overwhelming to Danni.  Jaina offers to teach her how to block out the negative emotions that are detrimental to her well-being.
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#18
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chapter 17:
 
On Bimmiel, the students have adapted to some of the conditions here.  Corran hopes to diffuse some of the tension they feel toward the Jedi.  At least, Ganner has picked up improving relations with the students by spending a lot of time alone with Trista.  It at least makes him seem human.
 
Corran takes the time to examine the Vong corpse.  He believes that, if they choose to return here, they will know what to expect.  This one might have been a scout and martial people might come back to retrieve the body.  If this is true, the whole team is in danger.
 
He and Ganner do a recon one evening and find a village along a lake bed.  Small round building, looking like mollusk shells, are scattered around.  He wonders if the Vong grew houses for themselves.  They get the sense of something strange about the lifeforms here.
 
Ganner wants to go and have a look.  They argue about the sense of this before slipping down.  Jagged breaks in the Force are felt from inside the shells.  Deeper in the village, Corran takes a sample of the sand and notices a beetle climbing in it.
 
He digs again and finds another one.  It’s different from the first one.  Then he finds another one.  He turns to see Ganner walking around, fingering his lightsaber.  Something shrieks from inside one of the shells and a creature crawls out.  It screams in pain and runs past Ganner before falling into the sand and struggling to get up. 
 
The sand begins to vibrate and Corran realizes one of the beetles he’d captured is beating its wings.  Two Yuuzhan Vong warriors come from the first two medium-size shells. They approach the creature, which might be a slave, and taunt him.
 
Corran can feel its fear, then anger as it charges at one of the warriors.  They beat the creature as Ganner watches in fury.  Knowing what the young man wants to do, Corran pushes through Ganner’s mind and sends an overpowering smell that doubles him over, retching.
 
Then he projects an image of the hills and starts going down them.  Ganner follows.  As they approach the cave, Ganner tells him he’ll kill Corran if he ever does that again.  Corran tells him that his death would be delayed instead of immediate then.  He explains that they only saw two Vong, but there could have been more.  Attacking the warriors would doom Dr. Pace and everyone else here.
 
Their job is to collect data.  He has no doubt that they will have to kill Vong before this is over, but he wants to put off that confrontation as long as he can.
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  • Ganner threatens to kill Corran.  Really?  Is that the kind of attitude Luke allowed to develop?

 


#19
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chapter 18:
 
Jacen wakes up on Balkadan inside the station.  He’d dreamed he’d gone to the slave village and left the Yuuzhan Vong warrior sinking in the mire.
 
It felt so real, his hands still tingle with the sense of holding his lightsaber.  It’s been a week since they’d seen the slave murdered.  Since that time, they’ve done some scouting.  This section of Belkadan has been turned into a shipyard.  The work is being done by slaves, but there are some aides who appear to be collaborating.
 
He wants to believe it was just a dream, but the intensity hasn’t diminished since that first night.  The reality of it is also different. 
 
He gets out of bed and finds his uncle sitting on the floor in a Jedi trance.  He envies that imtimacy with the Force, but he knows the price that was paid to earn it. 
 
He feels an urge to go.  Putting on his combat suit, taking a comlink, he slips out into the night.  His vision comes truer with every step he takes outside.  He finds himself taking the same steps to the slave village and the villip pond. 
 
Jacen stops, throws off his hood and calls to the slaves to come to him.  They look at him and start to move, but away from him.  Some of them even run.  They part to allow a Yuuzhan Vong warrior through.  Jacen produces his lightsaber and slashes through a few villips.
 
The warrior runs to him and Jacen lunges whith his weapon just as he did in his vision.  A vision the warrior must not have had because he twists, avoids the blade and brings his amphistaff down on Jacen’s back. 
 
It’s a harder battle as the blows Jacen gets are largely ineffective.  He realizes their armor is also living.  When the warrior pounces on him, Jacen tries to use the Force to lift him off the same as he’d done many times at the academy. 
 
Since he cannot sense the creature through the Force, he can’t affect it.  As the life is choked out of him, he wonders if this is actually a nightmare.
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#20
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chapter 19:
 
As Anakin had expected, the Dantari nomads who had seen the Imperial attack years ago have attributed god-like status to the attackers. They have weapons carved from equipment left behind and tattoo themselves with Imperial crests. 
 
Mara coughs, however, and that alerts the natives to the humans spying on them.  They come over and Anakin hands over a button with a New Republic crest on it.  They are soon bartering back and forth, learning what is of value to the nomads.
 
Mara is very proud of him for accomplishing all of that without using the Force.  His mother would be proud of him.  Anakin quips that his mother would have already have negotiated an agreement for them to join the New Republic.
 
He tells Mara how it impresses him the way she fights the hardship she is facing.  Privately, he wishes his father would be the same way. Mara understands and tells him some people don’t always know what their enemy is.  It’s harder for them to fight what they cannot identify.
 
That evening, they barter again with the Dantari, glad to have made friends here.
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