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Dark Tide II: "Ruin"

chapter discussion thread

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#26
Jedi Cool

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chapter 26:
 
Shedaeo Shai releases himself from the Embrace of Pain and confronts Deign Lian who has come to him with information.  Lian explains they have analyzed the burned area on Garqi and determined it to be the same area that their probes had difficulty with.  The probes are of a species related to vonduun crabs which are used in their armor.  They sent searchers out who had allergic reactions to the pollen which caused death, especially those wearing the armor.
 
Shai is bothered, not only by the idea that the enemy will have something to use against them, but that a botanical element in opposition to the invasion exists.  Living things opposing them is a nasty development.  The priests could use this to strengthen their influence. 
 
The plantlife causing this is native to a world called Ithor which is along their invasion route.  They are going to assault the planet with a seed.  Shai decides they will do things his way.  They will show the fortified planet that the Vong are invincible.
 
Lian suggests again that his contact with Elegos A’Kla has led him to be too concerned with how their enemy thinks.  Shai points out that he has not used a machine or questioned their leaders or gods.  There is much Elegos could teach Lian in the few days left they have with him.  Besides, destroying a life-bearing planet like Ithor would be blasphemous.
 
He wants Lian to plan an assault at Ithor for one month from now and a feint for Agamar.  If Agamar falls, they’ll just retake it.
 
Lian returns to his quarters and reports that Shai has planned a conventional assault on Ithor instead of Lian’s plan.  He believes Shai is more concerned with how they are viewed by the infidels because of his obsession with the one here. 
 
The superior tells him to plan the assault well and calculate how many ships will be needed.  He will suggest to Shai to bring in a few more ships and Shai will cut the estimates to the point where he will look like a fool.
 
Lian looks forward to attaining the position that should have been his.  He has a month before he can assume Shai’s office.
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#27
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 27:
 
Luke meets Mara on the Tafanda Bay where she tells him Tawron came by to perform the ritual with her, too.  Ithor is teeming with life but Mara works best when there’s strife.
 
Tawron was good for her, reminding her that the jungle can be a hostile place.  She can’t sit back and let things happen.  There are so many things she wants and, right now, is fretting that they may never be able to have children.
 
Luke agrees that he would like that, too, but they both know there isn’t the time now.
 
Corran helps Chalco load Ithorian plants onto the Pulsar Skate which Mirax is taking to Borleias.  She’ll drop Chalco back on Coruscant and come back here.  Corran urges her not to. She reminds him what happened the last time he faced a Yuuzhan Vong warrior.  Corran doesn’t think her being here will keep him safe.  The fighting willl be nasty here and he doesn’t want their children to lose one parent, much less both.
 
She reminds him Booster will take care of them.
 
When Anakin says good-bye to Chalco, Wedge comms in and tells him to tell Corran that a Vong cruiser showed up and dumped the shuttle Elegos used to go meet them.  They’re getting a recorded message from Elegos to Corran conveying the compliments of the Vong commander.
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#28
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chapter 28:
 
Jaina and Anni scrambled to recon the shuttle when the it was tractored into the Chimaera instead.
 
Once the techs scan for contaminants, she is told to go find something to do, but Jaina prefers to stay and watch, remembering Elegos from her earlier trip.
 
She’d heard the message and it is Elegos’s voice, but there’s something wrong with it.   She could get no sense of him aboard the shuttle.
 
Jagged Fel catches her waiting and they talk about the difference between Chiss and Human societies.  He was raised as the Chiss were and the Chiss are grim people.  His uncle, having not met him before, embraced him publicly at the reception, despite the current military situation and the fact that he’s not seen his sister for years.
 
That is not how the Chiss live.
 
Jaina tells him that life is too harsh not to take pleasure when it can be found.  He assures her that the Chiss are a thoughtful people, regardless of their deliberate demeanor. 
 
In an environmental suit, Corran waits with Wedge, telling his friend he doesn’t need to be here.  Iella and the children would never forgive him if anything happened to Wedge.
They agree to be wingmen on this and head to the shuttle.  There are growths all over it.  Corran believes they’ve probably keyed it to open with his blood which they’ve probably found on Bimmiel.
 
It opens up after he pricks himself and they note the plasma-type formations scan them and then die so they cannot be analyzed.  Inside, a strange villip opens up and shows them Elegos’s face.  He tells them that he has a lot to tell them, but hasn’t much time. 
 
The Vong are a complex species with a completely different philosophy from theirs.  He does not know why they hate machines, but he does believe there is room for compromise.  He hopes for continued progress.
 
The commander, Shedao Shai, is intrigued with the way Grand Admiral Thrawn studied the art of a species.  He has great respect for Corran, whom he knows was at Bimmiel and Garqi.  Shai lost relatives on Bimmiel to Corran.  He has prepared something so that Corran will understand him the way Shai understands Corran.
 
Elegos hopes to be with them soon and asks to give his love to his daughter and friends. 
 
When Corran opens the container, he finds Elegos’s skeleton, painted gold and embedded with jewels to resemble the Caamasi.  A villip is there, too, containing a message from Shedao Shai.  He explains he has presented bones to Corran to show him how Yuuzhan Vong bodies should be treated.  He wants the bones of his ancestor that was taken from Bimmiel.
 
If Corran has any honor, he will meet Shai at Ithor and return the bones.  If he doesn’t, then Elegos’s death is in vain.
 
Corran doesn’t understand why Shai will kill such a peaceful person just to send a message.  Wedge thinks that Shai thought this was the only message he’d understand.  Corran has picked it up loud and clear.  He vows to return the bones in a big box in which he’ll also stuff Shai’s.
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#29
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chapter 29:
 
Admiral Kre’fey explains that the evacuation is going well.  The cityships cannot make the jump to hyperspace so they’ll be screened by New Republic forces.
 
The price of passage off of nearby worlds is spiking.  Borsk Fey’lya’s advisors have already left, but he’s still here.  They don’t care so long as he doesn’t cause problems.
 
Pellaeon’s engineers have finished the ground stations and put defenders in position there.  Luke says the Jedi are close to finishing work on the Tafanda Bay .  Kre’fey shows them the Vong fleet moving like asteroids toward Ithor.
 
The simulations don’t bode well and Pellaeon is bothered by the fact that the Vong can send their ships after the city-ships, too.  Protecting those will leave Ithor open.
 
Corran suggests they really need a truce.  He has already sent for the bones Shedao Shai wants.  He doesn’t know why, but he knows he has to have them here.  Maybe he can shoot them into the sun and hopes Shai goes after them.
 
It won’t work because Shai wants to kill him for killing his relatives on Bimmiel.  He suggests that he challenge Shai to a duel in exchange for a truce.  If Shai wins, he gets the bones.  If Corran wins, Ithor is spared. 
 
Luke opposes this because Fey’lya would never allow it and it would make Corran the aggressor.  Kre’fey tells him what Fey’lya doesn’t know won’t hurt him.  Corran explains that he has to do what he can to stop this invasion even for a day so they can get more people out.
 
Luke turns to the officers for their advice. Pellaeon would never condone it because it puts the man himself at risk and would encourage others to take vigilante action because they felt it was right.  However, Corran is not under his command and the situation is desperate. Kre’fey agrees.  If there’s a chance to safeguard the planet, he’ll go along with it.
 
Kre’fey wants Luke to know he appreciates the sacrifice the Jedi are making here.
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#30
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chapter 30:
 
Corran is reminded that Dr. Pace is going to protest the appropriation of the artifacts.  Corran tells the freighter captain he’ll note it. 
 
He knows Jacen doesn’t approve of this plan and hasn’t changed his mind about it.  Jacen points out that Corran is going off on his own because he wants revenge for the death of his friend.  If it were Jacen, Corran would be reminding him to subordinate his feelings to what was best for everyone.
 
Corran tells him that they are on a world that is empty because it’s target due to what he did on Bimmiel and Garqi.  Shedao Shai is looking for Corran and for the bones which means he’s going to be distracted.  Distracted leaders fail eventually.
 
This isn’t about revenge for Elegos.  The last thing the Caamasi would want is for someone to be killed in his name.  If he has to kill Shai, he will; otherwise someone else will have to deal with him.  He can buy the time they need to get more people off Ithor and maybe show the Yuuzhan Vong that it won’t be so easy to push into this galaxy.
 
Kre’fey admits he’s surprised that his cousin, Chief of State Fey’lya, has not fled with his cabinet.  Fey’lya admits he has reasons for staying.  He orders a transmission put through to Admiral Pellaeon so he can demand that Admiral Kre’fey be put in command of the operation.
 
Kre’fey contacts Pellaeon, tells him what Fey’lya wants and asks him to convey the Remnant’s orders.  Pellaeon answers that his directives require him to remove all Imperial ships and personnel to Bastion if he is replaced.
 
Kre’fey thanks him and apologizes for wasting his time.
 
Fey’lya is outraged.  Kre’fey points out that he agreed to leave the military to its own authority.  He was warned Kre’fey would take his forces to the Unknown Regions if he tried to interfere.  He’s still willing to do that, even if it means leaving soldiers and Jedi behind.
 
Fey’lya is ready to have him arrested when Pellaeon cuts in to tell them that the Vong are within attack range.  Kre’fey turns to his cousin and tells him he would have had the chance to flee but that is gone now.  He can either remain on the bridge or slink to his cabin and hope the Vong can’t get to him there.
 
Fey’lya warns him that he fought the Empire.  Kre’fey is glad to know it because the Vong are much worse. 
 
Rogue Squadron launches and prepares to go after the Vong troop carriers.
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#31
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chapter 31:
 
The Chimaera is surrounded by four Star Destroyers, then nine more, three Bothan Assault Cruisers and a Mon Calamari star cruiser.  Other smaller ships are around them.  The larger ships have stronger shielding so the snubfighters aren’t much use against them. Pellaeon wonders, however, if the Vong just learned how fighting is done here.
 
Jaina’s wingmate, Anni, is hit and her fighter destroyed.
 
Jacen feels the pain in his sister and knows she lost a friend.  Ganner tells him that he has to assume she’s going to be fine because he can’t do anything down here for her.
 
Lian is pleased at the attack until he realizes that Shai is responsible for it.  He’d analyzed the small-fighter tactics and determined the larger ships would copy them.  Still, Shai will be blinded by this victory.
 
Kral Nevil comes up on Gavin and laments that only eight Rogues are left.  His anger pushes him to go after the troop carriers with Gavin. They use a proton torpedo to create a whirlwind through the shock wave resulting from the explosion and the positioning of the black hole void.  It pushes the ships out of the sky and onto the planet.  The Rogues can’t do anything to them at that point.
----------------------------------------------------------------
 
 


#32
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chapter 32:
 
The second troop carrier down blasts at the Tafanda Bay herd ship, then uses a void to pull in atmosphere before landing.  The warriors emerge into the bay with their weapons at hand and moving uneasily because of the dead crab armor they’re wearing.
 
Anakin and Daeshara’cor watch from a datapad and then move into position in a corridor that runs along the plazas in the herd ship.  She tells him thanks for helping her find herself again.
 
A few reptoids chase a Mouse Droid down the corridor and Anakin uses the distraction to hurl one through the air with the Force.  He and Daeshara’cor battle a Yuuzhan Vong warrior together until she is hit with his amphistaff and takes in venom.
 
Anakin feels the Force surge within him and knows he could collapse the walkway beneath the warrior or send tiles into his flesh.  He can avenge her and his friends.
 
But he knows he cannot be concerned with what he can do to his enemy.  He deflects the warrior’s blow with a lightsaber and then kills him before reporting one member of his team down.  He carries Deschara’cor into the Ithorian forest.
 
The Ralroost’s shields are almost down when Kre’fey realizes what to do.  He orderes the strength of their shots increased.  The Vong are using weak voids for weak shots. 
 
When the comm. officer is killed, Fey’lya takes it and patches through a transmission to Pellaeon on Kre’fey’s orders.  He notes he’d rather die up here than be found by the Yuuzhan Vong below.
 
Shedao Shai moves through the forest.  He senses a great deal of hostility from it.  His warriors report that the facility is defended by automatons.  Furious that the infidels show no respect by dishonoring them in this way, Shai orders the toys to be broken.
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#33
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chapter 33:
 
The Jedi are clad in black suits and head through the jungle.  Through the Force, they avoid trees that are masked by the blank Vong presences. 
 
Meanwhile, Shai and his warriors take down the droids and see how they do not fight on the way living creatures would.  They toss explosive bugs on the tower and the building shudders immensely.  This doesn’t seem right to Shai who realizes that the building is not a permanent structure.
 
His Chazrach and warriors are beating consoles and ripping boards.  Shai knows that the infidels knew they would react this way.  He calls his people back.  Some of the Chazrach follow, but the warriors will not be dissuaded.
 
He races out of the building to get to the command center and order his men to get out via a villip, but it’s too late.
 
The fake building is covering a hole with explosives that would be detonated once one of the computers inside shut down.  This occurs when an amphistaff goes through it.  The building collapses and takes everyone down with it.
 
Shai never realized through his conversations with Elegos how cunning these beings are.  He vows to conquer them.
 
Mara heads toward Anakin and Daeshara’cor when she encounters Kyp and Wurth face four warriors.  She helps them there and has Kyp tend to the injured Wurth before racing up to help Anakin.
 
He’s finished by the time she gets there, but not because of what he did, but because Luke is standing there.  Luke explains he just swapped images of Anakin the other reptoids in the creature’s mind.
 
Deign Lian cannot figure out what is going on in space.  The enemy ships are sending heavier shots which punch past defenses.  He thinks Shai knew this would happen and did it on purpose to shame him.  That’s why Shai is on the planet.  Though the commander is asking for reinforcements, Lian determines he’ll get none from him.
 
Jacen and Corran overrun the command center and Corran uses a villip to tell Shedao Shai that they’re there.  He threatens to send the bones into the sun unless Shai agrees to a truce and then a duel between them.  If Corran wins, he gets the planet.  If Shai wins, he gets the bones.
 
They bargain down the date to seven days from now. 
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#34
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chapter 34:
 
A week is longer than expected.  Both Pellaeon and Kre’fey are putting the time to good use in modifying their weapons and ships. Pellaeon asks if Kre’fey expects the Vong not to live up to the agreement.
 
Kre’Fey notes that Fey’lya will probably urge a strike if Horn dies.  The agreement isn’t popular, but they know they’ll have to face the Vong again anyway. 
 
Corran is having to deal with the Chief of State’s disapproval.  Fey’lya explains that he had no authority to usurp the New Republic by making this arrangement.  Corran threatens to resign from the military.  Fey’lya insists that Luke to order Corran not to do this.  Luke refuses and tells Fey’lya that he’s Corran’s second in the duel.
 
Fey’lya accuses him of letting the Jedi decide Ithor’s fate.  Seeing that trap, Corran tells Luke he resigns from the Jedi Order, too, and makes up excuses about not liking the Code or the chafing robes.
 
Luke tells Feyl’lya that Corran is acting to preserve life.  If he dies, one life is lost, not many.  When he wins, Ithor will be safe and the Vong will realize the cost of this invasion.
 
Fey’lya believes that Corran will be remembered like Thrawn or Vader if he cannot pull this off.  Corran points out that no one will remember him in the carnage that will follow should that happen.
 
Anakin brushes off his mother’s help and goes to see Daeshara’cor himself.  She tells him the venom is taking effect.  He reminds her that Corran survived a strike with venom.  The Twi’lek chemistry, however, is different.
 
He is angry because he made a mistake and Chewbacca died.  Now she is dying, too.  Daeshara’cor tells him that she would not change anything and neither would Chewie.  They died in service to life.  Anakin will be there someday and will be greater than they. 
 
She fades and dies, the body disappearing from under the sheet.
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  • I don’t know why Luke is saying that only one life will be lost if Corran dies.  If he dies, the bet is lost and Ithor is not spared.  I’m also surprised that Luke assumes the Vong will keep their promise if Corran wins.  The military certainly isn’t making that assumption!
  • Daeshara’cor disappears, despite there being no indication that Luke or anyone else has learned the secret that Qui-Gon passed down to Obi-Wan.  Remember that Dorsk 81 was buried when he died.  There is no indication that the other dead Jedi Luke lost over the years disappeared either.


#35
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chapter 35:
 
Luke waits on the mountin clearing while Corran meditates.  Shedao Shai appears with his second Deign Lian.  Corran has the bones and indicates Luke is his second. 
 
They trade barbs and begin the fight.  They are evenly matched as Corran lunges with his lightsaber and get a plunge into his flank with an amphistaff instead.  His lightsaber hits the ground. 
 
Luke wants to help him, but holds back.  Corran could survive this.  He eggs on Shai who forces him back, causes him to fall on his knees and, as Shai moves to plunge his staff down, Corran extinguishes his lightsaber.
 
Shai stumbles, falls forward and the extinguished lightsaber reignites, impaling the warrior.
 
Lian refuses to take the body and leaves.  Corran takes Shai’s mask so that Elegos will be able to see that the Vong are not invincible.
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#36
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chapter 36:
 
Deign Lian returns to the Legacy of Torment, appropriates Shedao Shai’s quarters and authorizes the plan that Shai had rejected but that Lian’s master has approved.
 
A dozen pod-like ships descend to Ithor.  Kre’fey turns to ask Luke what he thinks of this and sees the Jedi Master wince in pain.
 
The ships drop a bacteria on Ithor that devours all life down the microbial forms.
 
When the Vong fleet plots an outbound vector, Pellaeon orders a pursuit.
 
Deign Lian reports to his master, Warmaster Tsavong Lah, that Ithor’s threat is gone.  Lah gives him the Legacy of Torment and orders him back to Dubrillion.  A jolt shakes Lian to his knees and, ignoring the demands coming from the villip, races out of the cabin.
 
In the week Corran had bought for Ithor, Kre’fey and Pellaeon had studied the Yuuzhan Vong ships and realized that the dovin basals make maneuverability difficult for them.  They secretly brought in the Interdictor crusier Corusca Rainbow and had it hide behind one of Ithor’s small moons.  When the Vong fleet began to move out, the Rainbow projected its powerful gravity well generators toward Ithor, doubling its mass and sucking the Legacy of Torment back down. 
 
Meanwhile, they’d also configured firing solutions and fed them into every ship and starfighter which hit the Torment repeatedly until it breaks apart and falls into the burning atmosphere of the planet it destroyed.
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#37
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chapter 37:
 
The loss of Ithor has panicked the Imperial Remnant which recalls Pellaeon and his forces.  The admiral meets with Kre’fey aboard the Ralroost and both officers lament the state of affairs in which they find themselves.  While the Imperial population is understandably alarmed, the New Republic is now dealing with myriad worlds trying to defend themselves or looking to cut deals with the Vong.
 
Worst of all, the half-hour of victory Corran Horn gave them is superceded now by him being blamed for the destruction of Ithor.  Borsk Fey’lya is enjoying huge popularity by virtue of him taking the comm. on the Ralroost during the fight.  This, combined with Horn’s failure, gives him the political momentum to require senatorial oversight of the military.
 
Kre’fey notes that he’s enjoyed working with Pellaeon and that, despite the rumors, the man has no antialien bias.  He wonders if there’s room for him in the Empire. Pellaeon laughs and admits he was about to ask if there’s a place for him in the one Kre’fey threatened to carve out in the Unknown Regions.
 
Colonel Fel is sending a squadron back to report to his father, while he is staying here to liase with the New Republic forces.  Pellaeon tells them that he will be back when his people are more afraid of not helping the New Republic than of helping it.
 
Jaina realizes how much she didn’t know about Anni until she receives a reply to her message to Anni’s mother, telling her how much Anni liked being Jaina’s wingmate.  Jaina knows she couldn’t have saved Anni, but cannot help but understand how Anakin feels.
 
Anakin appears, having let his mother suggest that he come see Jaina.  He tells her that Daeshara’cor died not hating him and that’s made him think quite a bit.  He wants Jaina to know that Anni didn’t hate her when she died either.  It’s hard to move past that feeling, but he’s willing to be there for her until she does.
 
Corran had been in a bacta tank when the bacteria was deployed and had come out of it as the atmosphere burned.  He’d felt the shock of the crew, the anguish of the Ithorian refugees and the shock of the death of life on the planet. 
 
He tells Elegos’s skeleton that his murderer is dead.  Corran had told everyone that he wasn’t out for revenge, that he only wanted to save Ithor, but he was lying.  He thinks Master Skywalker knew that, too.  He wanted Shedao Shai to die and wanted him to know he was dead when the warrior had stumbled.
 
Corran knows he’s dishonored Elegos’s sacrifice and the Jedi.  Without his friend, he doesn’t know how he can walk away from the Dark Side calling him.
 
The rumor mills are circulating and the Jedi are being blamed for Ithor.  Corran tells them that the only way they can function effectively during this war is not to have to fight public opinion, too.  They will have to disassociate themselves from him.
 
He will return to Corellia with Mirax where his grandfather has enough pull to get him asylum.  They will find a way to help refugees or Booster with the Errant Venture
 
He may be able to come back some day, but he knows that things will be out of control if anyone ever looks forward to the return of the man who killed Ithor.
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  • Well, Pellaeon seemed to have some anti-alien bias in the Thrawn trilogy, particularly when it came to the Noghri.
End of Book 3 (or, if you will, book 2 of book 2)




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