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Agents of Chaos II: "Jedi Eclipse": Book 5 in The New Jedi Order

chapter discussion thread

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#1
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 1:
 
In Gyndine’s capital city, morning brings only the sights and sounds of battle.  Only the New Republic embassy is protected by a strong-enough shield and that is where thousands are gathered, hoping to get in.
 
As a representative of the Senate Select Committee for Refugees, Leia Organa Solo is everyone’s best hope for help, but she cannot go no near the fence or make eye contact with anyone.  She spends most of her time pacing and hoping that another evacuation ship has landed.
 
Her bodyguard, Olmahk moves with her while C 3PO looks as unnerved as a droid can be, particularly as he knows the threat the Yuuzhan Vong pose to machines.
 
A soldier reports to her that one ship is away and two more are landing.  She has the next group admitted.  The Vong had arrived two days earlier from their positions in Hutt space.  There’s really no reason for the attack except to sow confusion.
 
This world is a transit point for refugees.  It’s becoming clear that the Vong like following displaced populations.  She is told that a probe droid on the field is showing fire breathers.  Creatures with six legs and breathe fire.  There are rumors the Vong stopped off at Mimban so they could fill up on swamp gas.
 
Nothing less than a turbolaser can bring them down.  Leia demands to know why New Republic troops are withdrawing, then regrets saying so.  They really don’t have a choice. 
 
C 3PO alerts her that the evacuees are complaining that she is discriminating against former Imperials.  That’s when the shield generator gets hit.
 
She comms the commander and asks for every available ship.  She is told that they’ve got nothing else to spare.  She has to get on the last ship there and go.  Leia knows she cannot choose.
 
Soldiers drag in an agitator telling everyone that only New Republic loyalists are being extracted.  Leia has them hold him and looks into his eyes.  Then she pushes her finger at his face and the ooglith masquer opens up.
 
Soldiers and evacuees alike are hit by thud bugs until Olmahk jumps the warrior and tears his throat out with his teeth.
 
An AT-ST shows up bearing Wurth Skidder who wanted to be the first to know that their defenses have been overrun.  A flight officer warns her she needs to be on board the ship now.  They have room for her, the droid and the bodyguard but not much more.  Leia gets him to allow four more and then spots a group of Ryn nearby.
 
She chooses four of them and hears the ones staying behind telling the others to let Droma know they are here.  She looks around for Skidder, only to see him dragging a woman and carrying a baby in his arms.
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#2
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 2:
 
The shuttle is pursued all the way through space, escorted by X-Wing which lose five of their number to get the evacuees to safety.
 
It’s pulled into the docking bay of the ship which then is crashed into by a couple of coralskippers on a suicide run.
 
It’s been 57 hours since she’s slept and she really hasn’t done that well since Han left Coruscant a month ago.  He hasn’t contacted her in that time, though she hears reports of the Falcon being spotted in various systems.
 
Han’s stages of grief are jumbled together and now another adventurer has entered Han’s life.  Leia has been worried about Droma, but spending time with the Ryn has given her hope that Han can forge a new relationship.
 
The New Republic envoy laments that he could not get everyone off the planet.  She reminds him of his past accomplishments and how he did more than anyone else could have.
 
Approaching the the Ryn, she explains that she heard someone mention the name Droma.  A male tells her that Droma is his nephew.  His sister was one of those left behind on Gyndine, but the child they have with them is hers.
 
Leia tells them she knows Droma and that he’s with her husband.  They are searching for the family now.  When they reach Ralltiir, she’ll try to contact them.
 
She finds the evacuation officer and asks about Wurth Skidder.  She’s told he didn’t seem interested in coming aboard.  As the ship jumps to hyperspace, Gyndine’s orbital shipyard disintegrates.
 
On the planet, Wurth Skidder watches the troop carriers raise up.  There is still fighting in the city, but most of the ground troops have stripped off their uniforms in the hopes that the Vong will treat noncombatants easier.
 
The fire breathers were followed by Chazrack warriors.  A large ship drops several bundles to the ground that turns out to be living creatures that create a perimeter around the embassy grounds and move inward.
 
He would run into the wilderness and live off the land as many have done, but he’s not a deserter.  Wurth has heard even on Yavin IV that sometimes darkness has to be fought with darkness.  And the Vong are certainly a black evil.
 
He jumps into a group of Ryn and tells them that help has arrived.
 
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#3
Jedi Cool

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chapter 3:
 
After painting the Falcon a matte black, Han takes off and heads for Sriluur where he’s certain the Weequay will be able to tell them what where to start looking for Roa and Droma’s family.
 
Droma tells him that they can work on Han’s family after that.  Han tells him that there’s nothing wrong with his family.  He has issues with the galaxy.  Droma tells him that friends can’t be protected from fate.  He himself has lost loved ones and tried to deal with it the way Han has.
 
He burys his heartache with anger and doesn’t notice that he’s tossing love into the grave, too.  Living beings live for love.  Han tells him he got along fine without it for years. 
 
Droma asks if he thinks it was a mistake to befriend Chewbacca.  He wouldn’t be grieving now if he did.  Han doesn’t think that.  Droma suggests that maybe he shouldn’t have gotten as close to him then.  He points out that Han is angry that he didn’t see that loss coming and thinks he should have been able to prevent it.  He wonders if Han is angry at himself for what he didn’t do or fate for having snuck up on him.
 
Admiral Sien Sovv reports that Gyndine is lost.  General A’baht admits that he was among those who decided not to send a sizeable force to protect the world.  Yet, he reminds them that they reinforce the belief that the New Republic will only protect the Core.
 
As it is, threatened worlds are surrendering without a fight.  Their allies won’t allow them to use worlds as staging area without fear of reprisals.  No one can help but notice that worlds that resist are devastated while the Hutts cut a deal and escaped bloodshed.
 
Populations are losing faith in the New Republic ’s ability to protect them.  As it is, this meeting is taking place in Dometown where no one can see them.  The place had been financed by Lando Calrissian who had thought people would come down here to live but it never caught on.  Bankrupt, it was repossessed by banks and fell into the hands of the military.
 
The lower levels of Coruscant are seeing hotels and restaurants being opened up in anticipation that those living in the skies will have to come down if the Vong attack.  He has no doubt that it won’t matter anyway because Coruscant will be remade.
 
There are plans to move key government personnel elsewhere should the worst happen.  In the meantime, the attack on Gyndine shows they are probing for weaknesses while, at the same time, the Vong are mining certain hyperspace routes which serves to contain the New Republic.
 
Right now, the Vong fleet is concentrated between Ord Mantell and Obroa-skai and between Hutt space and Gyndine.  They could threaten worlds such as Bilbringi and Borleias.  Commenor, Kuat and Corellia are vulnerable from Gyndine. 
 
A’baht interrupts that the Vong are waging a psychological war, not a strategic one.  They are destroying natural beauty and places of learning.  They are hounding refugees.  They are, in essence, saying that the civilization here means nothing to them.
 
He believes their next targets will be Bothawui and Kothlis.  The New Republic must draw the line there and launch a counteroffensive. An argument erupts over which planets are valued over others before Admiral Sovv points out that they have two plans already.
 
Commodore Brand explains that they are hoping to persuade the Hapans to join the fight.  Besides being an ally of the New Republic in the past, the Queen Mother’s homeworld of Dathomir is threatened now.  Besides the Jedi recently helped foil a coup there so the Hapans owe a favor.  They are hoping that Ambassador Organa Solo can persuade them.
 
In exchange for her agreeing to approach the Hapes Consortium, they had to promise addiction fund for refugee relief.  The second plan is to lure the Vong into a trap at Corellia.  They have several hundred scientists trying to reactivate Centerpoint Station with the idea of using an inderdiction field to prevent their ships from leaving the system during an attack.
 
The Corellians won’t like being used as bait, especially since the New Republic interfered with their plans for self-governance a few years ago.  That was what induced Leia to resign as Chief of State.
 
Governor-General Marcha of the Corellian System is a New Republic appointee and has given her conditional approval.  Besides, the Corellians don’t really know the full extent of the plan.  They think Centerpoint is being prepared as a defensive weapon. 
 
Fey’lya and the Advisory Council only know that, too.  The Chief of State would never let the station be rearmed.  They must also be wary of any security leaks.  When it’s pointed out that Fey’lya can be overridden by a majority vote on the Council, it’s noted that three would support Fey’lya, while four would support the military.  The swing vote would be Viqi Shesh, the newest member.  They will have to curry her favor soon.
 
Intel in Hutt space indicates that the Hutts are trying to serve as conduits of information for the New Republic.  Their history shows that they would never fail to have a contingency plan in place.  It may be wishful thinking, but the Vong could be defeated and the Hutts would want to be on the right side when it happens.
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  • Dometown was visited by Luke and Lando in the Corellian trilogy.

  • I’m sure we remember Aunt Marcha from the same series, being appointed Governor-General at the end of Showdown at Centerpoint.

  • And Leia resigned as a result of the incident with the Corellians?  I’m thinking not.  She was Chief of State as late as the last YJK book which took place about a year ago.  The Corellian trilogy took place about 7 to 8 years ago.

  • The coup the Jedi helped stop on Hapes occurred in the YJK books.

  • Of course, the current queen mother of Hapes is Teneniel Djo, Tenel Ka’s mother.

 


#4
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 4:
 
On Nal Hutta, Nom Anor listens as Malik Carr sees no potential for this world.  Anor reminds him he’s been here for some time and has learned to look beyond appearances.  He is wearing an ooglith masquer to hide his identity.
 
He warns Carr that Borga is currently a she as she is in the process of bearing young.  He also mentions Carr might want to take a deep breath as the odor is overpowering.
 
When they are given audience with Borga, Anor uses his guise as Pedric Cuf, an intercessor between the Vong and the Hutts to present gifts that she finds quite appetizing. The food was engineered by Yuuzhan Vong shapers. 
 
It seems that Borga is currently the ruler of the Besadii clan and the cousin of Durga.  The Besadii is the ruling clan.  Carr has difficulty reconciling the Hutt lifestyle with that of the Vong.
 
Borga explains that they are willing to cede certain worlds to the Vong in exchange for the other keeping clear of Rimward Hutt space, including Ryloth, Rodia, Tattoine and Kessel.  The Hutts have resources and weapons to use that would only serve as a distraction to the Vong in their war against the New Republic.
 
The two Vong think nothing of conversing in their language in front of her, knowing that she barely understands them.
 
Carr advises her that the ultimate decision will be made by Overlord Shimrra and any discussion of which worlds each side has rights to will need to be determined in consultation with Supreme Commander Nas Choka.
 
Borga will gladly meet with Choka and offers to help the Vong with the transportation of captives, laborers and sacrifice fodder.  She asks that they not interfere with the spice trade.
 
She also wants to make sure that Hutt ships do not inadvertently disrupt operations and asks if she can be apprised of any place where the Vong will be heading soon.  They knew she would ask for this, but do advise that she suspend operations in the Tynnani, Bothan and Corellian systems.
 
After they leave, the other Hutts are quick to offer Borga advice.  Pazda Desilijic Tiure, the uncle of Jabba the Hutt, thinks it’s outrageous that the Vong would make demands.  Jabba would have fed both of them to the rancor.
 
Randa Besadii Diori points that Jabba didn’t do so well with the Jedi.  Gardulla the Younger thinks it’s better to pretend fear of an enemy so that they will be overconfident.
 
The only decision to make now is whether or not to tell the New Republic where the Vong will hit next.  Borga thinks they will wait until the NRI comes to them for help.  She reminds her advisors how the Hutts have worked together in the past to defend themselves against Xim the Despot and Moff Sarn Shild.
 
Pazda quips that they won’t need a badly-built Death Star laser to do it. 
 
For now.they will avoid the systems indicated by Carr.  Boss Bunji oversees shipping to Corellia, while Bombaasa handles Tynna and Bothawui. 
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  • Cousin of Durga, huh?  We all remember Durga of the Han Solo trilogy and the ill-fated Darksaber project? The badly-built Death Star laser figured there.

  • And Moff Sarn Shild of The Hutt Gambit!

  • Xim the Despot was mentioned in Han Solo and the Lost Legacy.

  • Bombassa appeared in Vision of the Future.

 
 


#5
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 5:
 
Leia confronts the Ralltiiri minister about why they have not been allowed to land.  The Minister explains that the Secretariat has vetoed the proposal to accept refugees.  It seems that there are rumors that the New Republic will not come through with the funds promised them for this purpose and that shook up several offworld investors.
 
She reminds him what happened when the Ralltiir sided with the Rebel Alliance against the Empire as an example of what the Vong can do to them.  Then she receives word from the world of Rhinnal that they are overburdened with refugees now and have had to divert some to Ruan which is actively soliciting for them.
 
A transmission comes in from the Millennium Falcon.  Leia and Han banter about him flying around from system to system causing trouble before she tells him that she saw Droma’s sister on Gyndine.  She was one of the ones left behind.
 
Leia is frustrated when he indicates he might still be able to get there in spite of the occupation.  She tells him she’s going on to Ruan, then to Hapes to try to recruit more allies.  In the meantime, Admiral Sovv has asked Anakin to go to Corellia to help them reactivate Centerpoint.
 
She wants Han to come with her to Hapes, but he makes a remark about ruining her fun when she reunites with Prince Isolder. 
 
On board the Vong vessel Creche, Wurth Skidder is among several survivors of Gyndine taken aboard as captives.  The commander of the vessel urges them to think of the crew as parents and teachers.  They are going to be afforded with a truth that they missed as their civilizations developed.  The Vong are here only to help them with that. 
 
On this ship, they will be individuals with a hand in determining their destiny. 
 
Skidder turns to the older man on his right and asks how long he’s been here.  The man tells him that he thinks it’s a couple of months since he and a friend were sucked out of the Jubilee Wheel at Ord Mantell by a huge space worm. 
 
He tags Skidder as a military man.  He himself is Roa and his friend is Fasgo.  Skidder doesn’t admit he’s a Jedi and tells Roa his name is Keyn.  They don’t know where they are going, but Roa already knows what they’ll be doing.
 
The commander shows them the yammosk they will help grow.
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  • If Roa really was captured two months ago, then it’s been about 8 mos since Vector PrimeHero’s Trial took about 2 mos. 

 


#6
Jedi Cool

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chapter 6:
 
On Yavin IV, Luke contemplates the Force and how it applies to this situation.  The Yuzzhan Vong are not emissaries of the Dark Side. They live their lives in service to their gods and all their acts are seen as acts of devotion to those gods.  They are voids in the Force.  If it doesn’t flow through them, he wonders if the Force doesn’t exist in their galaxy. 
 
He turns to Talon Karrde who has often wondered what the galaxy looks like through the eyes of a Jedi.  He wishes he’d known Luke before he turned into a deep thinker.  Mara is on Coruscant where she is recovering, but refuses to be scanned or evaluated by anyone. These tears of Vergere may or may not be a cure.  It’s hard to determine whether or not she is serving the Vong interests or her own.
 
 They stop to watch Kam and Tionne demonstrate a Force technique to a group of children age 4-12, including Anakin’s friend, Tahiri. Luke admits that Yavin IV has been left alone, but it might be necessary to relocate everyone.  The Jedi are projecting an illusion for now; something he learned from the Fallanassi.  However, the more Jedi leaving the moon, the less the illusion can be projected.  The children will eventually have to be moved.
 
Karrde offers help when that happens and asks if a Jedi died on Gyndine.  Luke doesn’t know what happened to Wurth Skidder, only that Leia knows he stayed behind deliberately. 
 
They come across an argument between Jacen and Anakin over the invitation to Centerpoint Station.  They both agree the station should be used defensively, but Jacen believes Anakin should not even go to Corellia.  Anakin couldn’t help what happened last time, but he knows better now.
 
Anakin points out that Jacen is forgetting that his ignorant actions prevented the Triad from blowing up another star or the Bakuran fleet. He asks his brother if he opposes Jaina flying with Rogue Squadron or their mother going to Hapes with Tenel Ka.  He doesn’t think what he’s being asked to do is any different. 
 
Jacen asks what Luke thinks about this. Luke is opposed to reenabling the station because the power is too unmanageable.  However, if it can be used to defend Corellia and spare ships for service elsewhere, he thinks they should help make it operational.
 
Jacen decides he’s going with Anakin.
 
Talon Karrde advises the Jedi that the agreement with the Hutts bothered him because the Hutts would never roll over for an enemy.  This means they’ve gotten something in return for bargaining with the Vong.  Karrde has learned over the years that, to find out what the Hutts are up to, one must follow the spice.
 
In fact, Hutt spice flow has gone unabated in all but three systems:  Tynna, Bothawui and Corellia. The fact that no one has supplanted them in those systems means that the Hutts have gotten intel regarding Vong plans for those areas.  But, there’s a difference between speculation and proof positive that the New Republic government will accept.  Someone will have to find out for certain.
 
Former military man Kenth Hamner suggests just asking the Hutts. 
 
Karrde admits the New Republic military is trying, but corroborating evidence will help the Defense Force plan a surprise for the Vong. He has come to the Jedi because he doesn’t whom he can trust.  The NRI may have been infiltrated by agents judging by how the deserter situation was botched.  The Advisory Council could have a leak, too.  The Defense Force can’t act without the approval of the Senate and no one will back Sovv on just Kardde’s word.
 
The Bith Jedi, Ulaha, reminds him that the Jedi are hardly respected themselves after Ithor.  Karrde thinks they need to get the government listening to them again.  The Jedi are too trusting.  Sentiment against them is spreading because some people think they aren’t doing enough while others think they are powerless.  Some want Palpatine back because he would have handled the Vong by now.  The best way the Jedi can improve their image is to provide intel that leads to a major victory.
 
He can arrange a meeting with a Hutt spice smuggler.  They can find out why no one is delivering spice to Tynna and the rest.  Jacen argues that this just demeans the Jedi.  Anakin points out that they can help others without having to raise a weapon.
 
Luke knows they are looking to him for answers.  He tells them he doesn’t care about their image, but they should choose the right course of action.  If they can help prevent the fall of another world, there is no choice.
 
Jaina offers to go with Karrde, but Kyp doesn’t think she’ll be believeable.  He and Ganner will go instead. 
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  • Tahiri is included with a group of students no older than 12.  Tahiri is two years younger than Anakin, so she should be 13

  • Especially since Kyp notes that Jaina is 17.  That means the twins are both 17 and the time is about 26 years ABY.

  • First appearance of Kenth Hamner

  • Anakin’s adventures with Centerpoint Station occurred in Showdown at Centerpoint.

  • Luke learned the art of illusions from the Fallannassi in The Black Fleet Crisis.

 
 


#7
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 7:
 
At the Ruan Refugee Facility, thousands disembark.  The Ryn Melisma and Gaph try to take heart at the opportunities here for them.  The world is better than the cramped transport but their stay here is supposed to be temporary.
 
The Ryn are put back behind the communal refreshers where they find any number of species glowering at each other.
 
Species have been put here together without regard for differences and past hostilities.  They all look at the Ryn with suspicion which is something they are used to.  For extra sums, refugees can get better housing but that isn’t always possible.
 
The deep part of the camp is worse.  In the Ryn section, they are given food and a place to sleep before learning more.  They are told that water isn’t a problem, but food shortages are and so is disease.  The corporation that runs the planet could solve those problems but it’s to their advantage to keep everyone miserable.
 
The New Republic wants to relocate people to populous worlds but they can’t do it quickly, which leaves the refugees to try to find a way off themselves.  They can do that by working in the fields.  Unfortunately, the pay isn’t great and many refugees find themselves in a kind of indentured servitude.
 
A Ryn named Sapha asks Wurth if he wasn’t the one who promised help had arrived.  He admits it was the heat of the moment.
 
Skidder, the Ryn and Roa are standing to the waits in the nutrient that the yammosk marinates in, caressing its tentacles.
 
The commander had told them that the yammosk sees its dovin basals as children and responds when they are threatened.  This one has a telepathic empathy to the drive of the ship.  The kinder they are to it, the better it works.
 
He can tell by the color of the tentacles that they are doing well, but could do better.  He has them increase the pace of their strokes.  This is exhausting work.  Wurth suspects the yammosk is feeding off of their energy.
 
The commander tells them that the yammosk is conditioned to establish a report with the commander in charge.  He and the yammosk are familiar now, but he wishes the yammosk to become familiar with all of them.
 
This is what Roa knew about.  The yammosk will get used to them and want to touch them.  They must allow it to do so.  Some it will ignore; others it will bond with.  He urges them not to resist telephathic probes lest it drive them mad.
 
Roa urges Sapha and Skidder to keep their minds blank or it will view their thoughts.  This is an unnerving thought for Skidder who has been trying to hide his role as a Jedi.  When the yammosk wraps a tentacle around Wurth’s shoulder, Roa tells him it looks like he’s made a new friend.
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#8
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 8:
 
On Hapes, Leia addresses the representatives, reminding them how she’d come 18 years ago to get financial support for the new government of the Republic.
 
Prince Isolder, his wife, Queen Mother Teneniel Djo, and her mother-in-law Ta’a Chume sit with the various dignitaires. The New Republic ambassador is there with Teneniel’s daughter, Tenel Ka. 
 
Leia tells them she does not come bearing gifts, but a warning.  She respects their isolation, but finds it unlikely that they will avoid being thrown into the same darkness as the rest of the galaxy. 
 
The Yuuzhan Vong appear to have come from outside of the galaxy.  They are bent on conquering it, though, and remaking it in their own image. They would have all the peoples of the galaxy swear allegiance to the gods in whose name they conquer.
 
Some worlds have already surrendered to be spared the fate of those that resist.  The New Republic will not bargain or surrender. Negotiation has been tried and resulted in the murder of Senator Elegos A’Kla.  The Hutts have struck a deal to allow the Vong to occupy and use Hutt worlds for resources to fuel the invasion.
 
The Hapes Consortium must decide now.  She is not asking them this lightly because she knows there’s a chance they will be left alone. However, the New Republic will be strengthened by this support.  She can give them nothing in return but to ask them to think about who they want as their neighbor.
 
Afterwards, Ta’a Chume introduces her to Lol Miilarta of Terephon who assures her that her world will render aid.  C 3PO adds that the number of worlds thus far will be 31. 
 
Ta’a Chume asks if Leia is weary of all of this courtly pomp, but Leia admits it brings back fond memories of Alderaan.  She is reminded that this could have been her heritage had she chosen Isolder over Han Solo.
 
Leia knows that all too well and is still glad she is not stuck in Teneniel Djo’s position right now.  Still, she hates having to worry about Han and the formless future facing her.  She gets a less welcome reception from Beed Thane of Vergill who is clearly not an admirer of the Jedi.
 
He disregards Ta’a Chume’s warning and continues, despite Tenel Ka’s appearance at Leia’s side and Prince Isolder heading their way. Thane tells everyone that they have only Leia’s word that the Yuuzhan Vong cannot be negotiated with.  It is quite unfair to expect the Hapans to unite with the New Republic when that government isn’t even united within itself.  He will remain neutral until he knows what the invaders have planned for the Consortium.
 
When Isolder arrives, Thane snaps that he prefers the company of a daughter who does not act like a Hapan and a speaker of half-lies like the ambassador.  Isolder backhands him which brings Captain Astarta to her prince’s side.  Thane assures him his seconds will call on him in the morning.
 
Ta’a Chume laments that the division is beginning here, too.
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  • Thane played a dangerous game there.  I’m surprised a man is leader of one of the Hapan worlds, much less ignored Ta’a Chume. She is not one to broker disrespect.

  • Captain Astarta was Isolder’s bodyguard in The Courtship of Princess Leia.

 
 


#9
Jedi Cool

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chapter 9:
 
Han yells to Droma to punch the sublight drives.  Droma reminds him how he’d been promised that nothing would happen in Hutt space. Yet here they are fleeing Yuuzhan Vong coralskippers.
 
They take the ship back to Sriluur and try to lose the skips in a sandstorm.  After evading their pursuers, they head back into space.  The hyperdrive is erratic so it’s hard to tell if they will reach Nar Shaddaa.
 
Droma suggest Kashyyyk, but Han doesn’t want to face Chewie’s family again.  He has someplace else in mind.
 
On Coruscant, Senator Viqi Shesh is working with droids who are arranging her office.  She hasn’t done badly for someone who went into politics only six years ago.  However, she’d expects more to come.
 
Several people think Fey’lya is trying to win the support of Kuat by appointing her to the Advisory Council.  Already, some of her supporters are accusing her of turning her back on the issues she’d championed while rising. 
 
To her, it only shows how good she’d been at fostering illusions. 
 
Commodore Brand arrives, telling her he’s here about Corellia.  She assures him she is in support of reenabling Centerpoint Station and has no fears about Corellia causing problems as a result.  Brand tells her there is some consideration being given to baiting the Vong into attacking Corellia.
 
He explains that to do so, they would need to pull ships from Bothawui and other places to amass an armada.  She realizes that the Advisory Council might not approve any action that would leave Bothawui and other worlds undefended. 
 
Shesh does suggest that it might be better to let the Vong find out about the work at Centerpoint.  That would certainly be an alluring target.  They can leak this to the Hutts who would surely tell the Vong.
 
Since the Hutt consul is still on Coruscant, she thinks he should be paid a visit and overhear a few things.  She offers to do this on the condition that, if it’s ever discovered, the Defense Force would be willing to admit they asked her to.
 
He tells her she should have been in the military.  Shesh asks him why she would want to be the one firing the weapon when she can be the one who decides at whom it is fired.
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#10
Jedi Cool

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chapter 10:
 
Above Ryloth, the freighter Starmaster, two Rodians watch a small ship belonging to Talon Karrde.
 
They go to their boss and tell him Karrde is arriving with two unarmed men and his bodyguard, Shada D’ukal.  The Twi’lek boss, Rol’Waran, meets with Karrde and mentions he’s heard the man wants to get some product.  He’d be interested in knowing why.
 
Karrde mentions that the invasion has rendered his job exchanging information between Bastion and Coruscant moot.  He asks about taking shipments to Tynna, Kothlis, Bothawui or Corellia, but is told those areas are problems.
 
Crev Bombassa shows up and sends his cronies off.  He explains he’s already paid off the debt he owed them by giving Karrde and Shada safe passage to visit Jorj Car’das.  He is not going to be doing them any favors right now.
 
As it happens, he recognizes Kyp Durron, so knows Karrde isn’t here about spice.  Karrde admits they’ve noticed the operations are not heading to certain systems.  He surmises that this came down from the Hutts.  Crev plays it close, but he wants Karrde to let his friends in high places know where the information came from so they know whose side he’s on.
 
The Creche is above the world of Ando where the commander and a priest welcome Randa Besadii Diori aboard.  He expresses his desire to help the Vong process and transport their captives.  
 
Randa is escorted to the yammosk nutrition room where several captives are tending to the creature.  One of them is entirely entwined by two tentacles.  He notes that the Vong have captured a couple of Ryn who are prized by the Hutts for their artistic skills, but also for their prognostication.
 
He suggests the two be relieved of their current duties so they may provide a demonstration.
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  • The deal with Bombassa was cut in Vision of the Future.

  • I’m sure we remember Shada D’ukal from the same book.

 


#11
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 chapter 11:
 
At the Hapan Royal Family’s summer home, the spectators wait for the duel to begin.  Prince Isolder and Captain Astarta have yet to arrive which is causing Tenel Ka to be restless.  It was not long ago that she and her friends had battled royal assassins here.
 
Ta’a Chume approaches Leia and makes small talk before asking where Han is.  She hopes there is no trouble at home the way there is here.  Her son made a mistake marrying a Dathomiri witch who has produced a daughter that rejects the way of the Hapans.
 
There is talk of Teneniel Djo returning to Dathomir.  Ta’a Chume admits that Leia would have been a better choice after all.  She wants Leia to know that, regardless of what happens here, Leia can count on her support against the Yuuzhan Vong.
 
Leia is stunned by this, even though she tries to remember Ta’a Chume’s history.  The Prince, the Queen Mother and Astarta appear. 
 
Isolder demands that, should Thane lose, he must not only apologize to Leia and Tenel Ka, but he must also pledge Vergill’s support to the New Republic.  Thane agrees so long as Hapes withholds support if he wins.
 
Ta’a Chume asks Leia if she realizes what her son is doing for her.  C 3PO provides commentary as the fight begins.  It’s a quick hand-to-hand combat fight that goes into a sudden-death round.   In the end, Isolder wins but there is no love lost between the two houses. Thane approaches Leia, tells her he will make his apology when the Consortium votes.  He will honor his pledge to support the Hapes Cluster, but he feels they are moving one step closer to catastrophe.
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  • I’m intrigued by Ta’a Chume’s royal gossip.  First of all, she seems rather disdainful of her granddaughter whom she’d doted on in the YJK books.  Perhaps, she just got tired of trying to convince her to be a real Hapan?  Second, this idea of Teneniel Djo returning to Dathomir which would effectively end her marriage is also a surprise.  Is this true or just Ta’a Chume playing politics

 


#12
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chapter 12:
 
On Ruan, Melisma, Gaph and the other Ryn slog through the rain to the familiarization facility to be instructed on what to expect in the Core.  The attempt by the Salliche Ag corporation to keep as many refugees marooned here as possible isn’t working as well as they’d like since other worlds and corporations have the same idea. 
 
Inside, the refugees are taught Basic, how to interface with droids and other lifeforms, riding turbolifts, the use of other technological devices and how to behave in public in the Core.
 
The Ryn are told of a marvelous employment opportunity on Esseles that will only require them to live in an area with other diverse species and just be themselves.  It’s a kind of living museum where the intellectually curious view the habits of other species.
 
In other words, it’s a zoo.  Gaph turns down this offer. 
 
They are then invited to stay on Ruan and work for Salliche Ag for a paycheck, having their living expenses deducted.  Realizing this will keep them indebted to the company, they turn this down, too.
 
At their shelter, they find two men who offer them an opportunity to get to Abregado-rae via private transportation.   They can’t do that unless they have official permits of transit.  They know that the Ryn can forge documents.
 
Gaph looks over the material they have and asks about transport off Ruan.  There are 37 Ryn here.  Their contact, Tall, thinks he can arrange that.
 
The Weequay inspect the Falcon on the uninhabited world of Tholatin where a smuggler’s hold is set up.  They ask some basic questions to determine the veracity of Droma’s story and find the smuggler’s compartments.  However, they are pretty sure they can help fix the ship.
 
They note that there is employment for those who don’t mind working for someone who works for the Vong.  The Weequay mention that they don’t deal with the Peace Brigade however.  It’s private transport for refugees wanting to escape the relocation camps.
 
They get huge bonuses because the refugees end up on worlds that will be targeted by the Vong.  They are moving a bunch off of Ruan right now. 
 
Han jumps in and mentions that they may not be too late to join in, depending on how quickly they can get the parts.
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  • Han is asked how many the Falcon can hold and he says about 50 if they are packed in, but only for a few hours.  Just wondering how that holds up to how many the ship has held in the past.

 


#13
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chapter 13:
 
Wurth, Roa and Fasgo sit down for food.  Four captives have died because of mind-probing, many more are catatonic while Wurth survives only by drawing on the Force.  Sapha and the Ryn arrive, having been removed many days ago.
 
She tells them they were with a Hutt called Randa who is being groomed to transport captives.  The Ryn were brought to him to tell him his fortune.  Unfortunately, Hutts are rather mercurial when it comes to their fortunes being read, so they gave him innocent readings that are up for interpretation. 
 
Skidder asks her how many bodyguards Randa has brought with him.  She thinks about ten.  Since it’s the same number of guards in the yammosk tank, he tells her to tell Randa the next time she’s summoned that the commander is going to betray him and sacrifice him.
 
He is going to plan an indea in the yammosk that Randa is going to betray them.  The yammosk will alert Commander Chine-kal. He’s been talking to the yammosk and admits he’s a Jedi named Wurth Skidder.  He didn’t know there was a war coordinator aboard the ship but they must be taking it to a world they intend to convert to a base.  The New Republic must find out where that is.
 
Once he gains the yammosk’s trust, it will tell him where they are going.  He will try to control the dovin basal that moves the ship and, when that happens, they mutiny. 
 
As Golga the Hutt is emptying the Hutt embassy on Coruscant, he is told that New Republic Senator Viqi Shesh requests an audience regarding a vital matter. 
 
Knowing she is a member of the Advisory council and the Security and Intelligence Council. Golga can already guess that she’s going to try to recruit him to spy for her and promise generous compensation while implying that the Vong will betray Borga and will ultimately fall to the New Republic anyway. 
 
Nevertheless, he agrees to meet her.  She tells him right off that they know the Vong are planning to attack Tynna because Borga stopped all spice shipments there.  They are wondering if she did this as a thinly-veiled attempt to let the New Republic know what was going on. 
 
If that’s so, then it would appear that Bothawui and Corellia are also threatened, unless, of course, that’s what the Vong want them to think.  She tells him the senate and the military are divided over what this means and do not know whether to protect one over the other.
 
Golga assures her that Borga has not been given any clue as to their plans.  This alliance was made to avoid war which required the Hutts to give access to insignificant worlds to the Vong so they can mine resources.  He knows this makes them look bad, but it keeps their society intact.  The Hutts have never intruded on New Republic space, with the exception of that incident with Durga.
 
Shesh ask him to deliver a message to Borga that the New Republic fleets will be deployed elsewhere in the hopes that the Yuuzhan Vong will attack Corellia.  There is a surprise waiting for them there.  This information is being offered to redress an earlier wrong that Borga won’t understand but that others will.
 
Gorga is surprised that she appears to be providing evidence that will be of value to the Vong.  He’s not sure that this isn’t information designed to make the Hutts look like fools. 
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#14
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chapter 14:
 
In the Ryn section on Ruan, the human contacts appraise the letters of transit and approve them.  They promise to submit everything to Salliche Ag that day and the Ryn should be prepared to leave in a couple of days.
 
After a couple of days, Randa sends for the Ryn again.  She tells Skidder that she did what he asked and Randa was concerned.  He sent them away immediately, probably so he could confer with his advisors.
 
Skidder has been practicing with the yammosk for a couple of days and now conveys images that the Hutt is planning to betray Chine-kal. The yammosk reacts violently, grabbing at Wurth who breaks off the contact.
 
He pretends to be a panicked captive as the tank is thrown into chaos.  When Chine-kal communes with the yammosk, however, he turns and identifies Wurth as a Jedi.  The yammosk is spawned by the same one who had previous experience with a Jedi. 
 
He will be sure to turn Skidder over to Tsavong Lah when he arrives to govern Coruscant.
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#15
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chapter 15:
 
Nas Choka is welcomed aboard the warship Yammka. Malik Carr and Nom Anor greet him.
 
After a blessing by a priest, Choka pronounces commendations for the work of his subordinates on various worlds in this galaxy.  Each are given implantations to hold cloaks of command. 
 
Of Nom Anor, he explains that he would rather demote.  His actions have been monitored and considered suspect.  He has strayed from his assigned course by allying himself with the Preaetorite Vong. He arranged a yammosk for them.  He was behind the plot that ended in the death of Elan whose father is most displeased.
 
He failed to control his agents who misguidedly tried to return Elan to the Vong when she was to have assassinated a number of Jedi. Choka wonders what this fascination with the jeedai is.  He does not think they pose a threat.
 
He has also learned from Malik Carr that Anor has arranged this allegiance from the Hutts. 
 
Anor assures him that the Hutts are pivotal to the defeat of the New Republic.  In fact, he would like to show him the strategy for conquering the Core Worlds.
 
Choka agrees to go for now, but warns him about his ambition. 
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#16
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chapter 16:
 
The Battle of Tynna is savagely beautiful.  Major Showolter watches with Belindi Kalenda from a LightStealth recon ship.  Neither is in good with the government after the botched defector case that could have killed Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and most of the Jedi. Fortunately, Talon Karrde had sought them out regarding the spice trade being linked to worlds in danger of attack.
 
None of them like watching Tynna fall, but Karrde reminds them that a New Republic force here would have only served to signal the Vong that their plans had been discovered. 
 
They continue to watch as Vong land on the world and begin transforming it.
 
Nas Choka and Malik Carr contact the Warmaster Tsavong Lah who has undergone a series of escalations that have caused him to resemble Yun-Yammka, the god of war.
 
Choka reports that Tynna has fallen. Its waters will provide the means to grow dovin basals large enough to take down the shields protecting Coruscant and other Core worlds.  It will also serve as a staging area to strike at Bothawui and Corellia.
 
To do this, they entered into an agreement with the Hutt species that required them to reveal which worlds to avoid in order to keep the dispersal of spice moving.  It was thought the Hutts would inform the New Republic of this or that the government would simply notice where spice was and was not moving and draw their own conclusions.  The lack of protection for Tynna seems to indicate that they have not behaved as predicted.
 
Nash Choka does explain that they were able to observe craft belonging to NRI watching the battle.  He thinks they deliberately gave up Tynna.  While the New Republic has the warship to protect both worlds, it appears Bothwawui is well-defended while nothing is stationed at Corellia.
 
It seems that Corellia has been left abandoned.  That is, at least, what they want the Yuuzhan Vong to think.  A New Republic senator has passed along news that there is a trap at Corellia.
 
They believe that Senator Shesh may be of use when they are closer to the Core.
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#17
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chapter 17:
 
Commodore Brand addresses the Advisory Council on the fall of Tynna.  He explains that, while they cannot be certain whether the Hutts knew this would be the outcome or not, it would appear that they have some knowledge of upcoming Vong attacks and curtailed their shipments of spice to targeted worlds accordingly.
 
As it is, the shipments have stopped to Bothawui and Corellia, but they don’t know which one will be struck next.  They do, however, believe that Corellia will be the target and would like to put forces in place to defend it.
 
Borsk Fey’lya thinks they are intent on sacrificing Bothawui for a precious Core world.  He points out that the only evidence they have for this is the word of two disgraced intelligence officers working with Talon Karrde, a known associate of the Jedi.
 
The Jedi are holding back until Bothawui is lost.  They have the power to do more as evidenced by their ability to push back Admirals Daala and Pellaeon when they attacked Yavin IV and by using illusions to defeat the Yevetha.
 
Chelch Dravvad argues that it’s against the Jedi Code to go on the offensive and that’s true of the New Jedi Order as it was with the old. Cal Omas thinks they should put this to a vote.
 
Pwo, Omas, Triebakk and Dravvad vote for Corellia, Fey’lya, Fyor Rodan, Niuv and Navik vote for Bothawui.  At a stalemate, they turn to Senator Shesh.  She thinks an attack on Corellia doesn’t make sense since it was stripped of defenses after the Centerpoint Station incident.  She votes for Bothawui.
 
Now that Corellia will be left open, Brand reports to his team that Shesh’s meeting with the Hutts went well and they just have to wait for the Hapes vote.  The Solo boys are on Drall.  Since Anakin Solo originally enabled that repulsor, they think he can do it with the station. 
 
Rumors are abounding in the system, however, and there’s been rioting on all the planets with talk of removing Governor-General Marcha.
 
Brand thinks Corellia will be the savior of the galaxy if this works.  He gives orders for fleet movements and the hyperspace routes to Corellia be swept for Vong weapons.  With the station’s interdiction field holding them in front of a full fleet, the Vong will regret the day they came here.
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  • The repulse of the attack on Yavin IV was in Darksaber.  The Yevetha incident was, of course, in the Black Fleet Crisis.

  • Jedi led warriors into battle during the Clone Wars.  Of course, this book was published two years before Attack of the Clones which affirmed that.  Neverthless, Kenobi wasn’t called General for nothing, right?  I’m assuming that the Advisory Council should have known the Jedi role in the Clone Wars.

 
 
 
 
 


#18
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chapter 18:
 
Thane’s public apology is sincere, but controversial.  Leia’s also not convinced that his vote will give them the majority they need to sanction military action.  Worse, the relationship between the New Republic and the Consortium may be damaged by those who believe there was a conspiracy to put these events into place.
 
She’s ready to leave Hapes.  What was a nice diversion from the rigors of the real world has only reminded her how archaic the Hapan system is.  She’s not been alone with Isolder and really doesn’t want to if he has perhaps misunderstood the nature of her visit.  Ta’a Chume’s admission that she would have been the better choice of mate for her son has left her feeling uncomfortable here.
 
Isolder takes the center stage, warning the representatives that the Hapes Consortium may not be able to stay out of this fight and that it’s better to enter it now, rather than be forced to face the threat eventually…and possibly alone.
 
The vote is close, but those in favor of action prevail. Isolder is happy.  Leia finds it hard to feel the same way.  She did not want this to hinge on an honor duel and reminds him that she came to ask for Hapes’ help, not his personal assistance.  It’s times like this that she misses Han, but alternates missing him with being angry at him.
 
She’s reminded of the incident several years ago when Luke recruited the assistance of the Bakurans.  Though the New Republic prevailed, it was at the cost of thousands of lives, including Gaeriel Captisan.  Suddenly, she is felled by an intense vision of explosions searing through Hapan ships.
 
She tells Isolder they have to call this off and urges him to revote.  He assures her that nothing bad will happen.  Besides, he meant what he said to the representatives.  If the Consortium is going to be dragged into this fight, he would rather they have allies.  
 
He asks Leia why she’s been avoiding him.  She tells him she’s been distracted. Isolder tells her that his mother told him that a distracted Jedi is vulnerable.  He invites her to accompany him on his ship.  Tenenniel Djo will be staying behind.
 
Arriving at Ruan, Han asks Droma if his family aren’t the type of people who might fall for the hijacking mercenary type.  Droma admits that, while they’re clever, they may be desperate.  
 
A droid catches Han’s eye.  He asks if the droid’s name is Bollux.  The droid claims to be called Baffle and he’s never been to the Corporate Sector. He assists them in finding information about some of Droma’s clanmates and helps transport them to the facility in question.  Along the way, Baffle tells them how many refugees are staying on Ruan because Salliche Ag now prefers living laborers to droids.  With the climate control domes, sentients find farm work to be much more pleasurable.  
 
When they arrive at the facility, guards arrest Droma for forging official documents and threaten Han with being charged as an accessory.
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  • The incident with the Bakurans occurred in The Black Fleet Crisis series.

  • Han ran with a droid named Bollux in the original Han Solo trilogy.

 


#19
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chapter 19:
 
On Nal Hutta, Borga meets with Nas Choka who quickly sets the Hutt straight regarding a few matters.  They will not need as extensive an exchange as the Hutts have suggested, but will be willing to pass on some minor information regarding areas where trade may resume.  For example, they are welcome to ferry spice to Bothuwai for the time being.
 
But that does not mean that he considers Borga an equal.  There will be no deal-making here.  This world and any other could fall tomorrow if Warmaster Tsavong Lah deems it necessary.
 
He does, however, wish to know more about these Jedi Knights.  Borga explains that the Jedi are often instrumental in interfering with their business interests.  Choka wonders if they might be able to capture one, as all those they’ve had thus far have escaped.  Borga points out that, per her son, Randa, there’s a Jedi aboard the Creche.
 
Contacting the ship, Choka confirms that there is a Jedi who was exposed by the yammosk.  He orders the Jedi turned over to bearers he is sending for that purpose.  In exchange for this help, he promises Borga rule over Nal Hutta so long as he lives…and she does not betray them.
 
Afterwards, Borga consults with her counselors.  She knew that the Vong have no middle ground, but she’d thought she’d have more time before her hand was forced.  Golga tells her that Senator Viqi Shesh has passed on news that the New Republic believes that either Corellia or Bothawui will be attacked next.  Apparently, there’s a surprise in store for the Vong at Corellia so it is hoped they will attack there.
 
Borga wonders who is playing whom there.  The Vong might have fallen for it or they may be encouraging trade to resume to Bothuwai in the hopes of lulling everyone into a false sense of security. On the other hand, attacking Bothawui puts Hutt ships at risk.  Surely, the Vong know that Nal Hutta will be forced to declare war if their merchant ships are destroyed.  She decides to play this out.  They should triple their spice to Bothuwai and tell the New Republic that Corellia is the target.  She’s warned that this could mean trouble for Nal Hutta, as well as Randa.
 
They may be worse off if they partner with the Vong anyway.  Borga asks what Choka spoke about to the ship.  She’s told that there is a vessel en route to grab the Jedi.  Borga tells Crev Bombaasa to contact Talon Karrde to find out if the Jedi would like one of their own back.
 
Meanwhile, Randa tells Wurth Skidder about the time he saw Luke Skywalker during the Darksaber incident.  He mentions how Skywalker had been with a young woman at the time who might have been a romantic interest.  Skidder jokes that he heard Mara Jade arranged for her to disappear.
 
Randa explains that he came to offer his sympathies for what the Vong have planned for Skidder and the New Republic.  Skidder thinks that’s preferable to doing nothing like Borga.  Randa points out that they all serve someone, even the Jedi.  Besides, the Hutts don’t care about conquest.  They just want to be left alone, like the Hapans.  
 
Skidder argues that the Hapans aren’t outlaws.  Randa wonders if the Jedi is one of those like Kyp Durron who stands in judgment of the same pirates and smugglers who once served the Rebellion.  He also notes the irony of the Jedi now being hunted the way the Hutts have been for years.  
 
When Skidder quips that Randa’s mother would be proud, Chine-kal arrives to complain about how Borga ruined his plans to turn Skidder over to Tsavong Lah.  He might still be able to propose using Skidder to tutor the yammosk but Choka will probably make other plans.  It might be better to break him first like the Jedi they’d had before who had to be killed.  
 
Skidder admits that Miko had been his friend.  Chine-kal wonders if Skidder is here out of vengeance.  He realizes that Skidder allowed himself to be captured.  He doesn’t know how the Jedi knew there was a yammosk on board, though.  Vengeance is not something the Jedi practice; perhaps, Skidder is of the dark side.  
 
Randa admits that some Jedi operate with fewer boundaries than others.  Chine-kal tells him to finish up his business with Skidder and leaves.  Randa immediately tells Skidder that he knows the Vong are planning to subject him to the yammosk.  If Skidder saves him, he will do anything the Jedi asks.
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  • The woman in question was Callista.

 


#20
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chapter 20:
 
Baffle explains that the Ryn have been accused of forging travel documents that would allow them and several hundred refugees to leave Ruan on a ship called the Trevee with a Nar Shaddaa registry.
 
Han worries that this is linked to the Tholatin group.  It’s possible that the Trevee might belong to a legitimate refugee group, though. He does wonder why Salliche cares how the refugees get off-world since that must be their goal anyway.  Baffle explains that the company certainly hopes that the newcomers will remain, their beef with the Ryn involves a concern that they are conspiring with the captain of the Trevee who has been accused of abandoning some refugees on different worlds than the ones promised.
 
The Trevee plotted a flight plan for Abregado-rae, but it was more suited to a plan more Rimward, like Thyferra or Yag’Duhl.  
 
Han struggles with what to do next.  Thyferra would be a good Vong target.  But, if he leaves now, he abandons Droma.  If he rescues Droma, he puts the departed refugees at risk of being left on a world about to be attacked.  
 
Baffle has a thought.  He gets Han’s assurance of secrecy, then takes him to a storage room with all manner of droids inside.  One of them has already located Droma who is being held at the district headquarters.  A droid cannot access that area, but a human could.  A map of aqueducts and pools could lead there.  The droids can get him whatever he needs to pass himself off as someone who belongs there, but it will be up to Han to be convincing enough to be able to rescue Droma and escape.
 
In return, the droids would like Han to shut down the transceiver that monitors the thousands of droid workers in this district.  Only a human can access this.  Once the transceiver is down, the droids Salliche has deactivated will be able to escape.
 
Han asks why Salliche has a bunch of deactivated droids.  Baffle tells him that Salliche is hoping to present the droids to the Yuuzhan Vong when they invade as a welcome gift, in order to prove that they comply with the attackers’ anti-mechanical philosophy.
 
Han realizes that Vong agents have already been here.  Baffle assures him that the droids can make sure most of the alarms are silenced.  The confusion of thousands of droids escaping should help Han.  
 
Droids have programming to prevent them from hurting most sentients, but they have a sense of self-preservation.  They are planning an act of passive resistence that they hope will be broadcast throughout the galaxy.  This will not only bring awareness to the plight of droids, but also alert their comrades elsewhere to the danger they place.
 
Han knows he could just pull rank and tell Ruan’s authorities who he is, but he can’t be sure that Director Scaur might deny knowledge of him and Leia might accuse him of interfering in SELCORE business.  Additionally, doing that won’t help the droids.  Knowing how C 3PO has been fretting over his own mortality, Han asks Baffle where exactly Droma is.  Baffle tells him it’s the manure works.
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#21
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chapter 21:
 
Shada D’ukal isn’t all that impressed with Kyp Durron’s squadron.  Karrde explains what took the Dozen-And-Two Avengers with new ships and flashy oves to a rag-tag bunch of fighters.  
 
He meets with Kyp and Ganner, telling them that the Hutts have started moving spice to Bothawui and Kothlis.  But not Corellia.  No one understands why the fleet isn’t there instead of here.  Perhaps, Chief of State Fey’lya or others on the Council may not be drawing the same conclusions everyone else is.  
 
Karrde also has another piece of information for Kyp, but he’s concerned about causing problems between him and Luke.  Crev Bombassa has told him that Vong forces are holding a Jedi, probably Wurth Skidder, captive on a ship headed to Kalarba.  There’s also a war coordinator aboard.  
 
Kalarba is only a jump away.  If they move fast, they might be able to get Skidder back before he is out of their reach for good.   Kyp assures Karrde that rescue missions are still a Jedi mandate.
 
Governor-General Marcha tries to find refuge from the thousands of demonstrators below.  Jacen uses electrobinoculars to read some of their signs.  He’s sure their father won’t like the one that tells the Solos to go home.
 
Marcha doesn’t know how the demonstrators learned that the boys would be stopping on Drall before going to Centerpoint.  She does reassure them that most of the crowd has been there for a long time, anyway.  It’s worse on Coronet and on other outlier worlds.  And the twin worlds of Talus and Tralus, the Federation of Double Worlds has formed the Centerpoint Party with the archeaologists forcibly removed from the station.
 
Ebrihim points out that they are using the same rhetoric of the Saccorian Triad.  They feel that the system deserves more than one vote in the New Republic Senate because of how the worlds were pulled here by the station.  With more votes, they might have been able to prevent the Republic from taking the station.
 
Jacen asks if Marcha wouldn’t have been able to do that.  Marcha explains that her appointment is a political one.  She might have more of her staff on her side if she’d made stronger objections to the move, but, without Jacen’s mother as Chief of State to protect her, Marcha would have been removed and replaced by Borsk Fey’lya.  The end result would be the same.
 
Anakin doesn’t understand why this is a big deal.  With Centerpoint reenabled, the system would be as strongly defended as Coruscant.  Ebrihim adds that the plan doesn’t appear to be so much of a measure of defense for the Corellian system as it is to have a weapon that can be used against the Vong.  
 
Jacen knew something like that was going on.  Anakin explains that his brother is convinced something will throw the Force’s balance off.  Personally, he thinks anything that stops the Vong has the Force on its side.  Jacen admits to Marcha that he and Anakin disagree about the parameters of this mission.  
 
Anakin argues that Centerpoint Station can be used both ways.  He’s not going to assume the worst unless he has evidence.  Ebrihim admits there really isn’t any, but there’s no guarantee that, even if it’s used as a shield today, it won’t be used as a weapon sometime in the future.  That’s not the big problem, though.  They believe that the New Republic may try to do the same thing that the Saccorian Triad did all those years ago.  What if the plan is to trap the Yuuzhan Vong here and forcing the battle in this system?  
 
They don’t know this, of course, but it’s odd that their worlds are virtually undefended with the enemy so close.  Some of their own ships have been sent to Outlier systems, too.  It’s hard not to believe that the New Republic hopes to lure the Vong here, use the station to trap them here and then have fleets from nearby systems jump in to finish them off.
 
Anakin doesn’t understand how ships can jump in with the interdiction field still up.  Ebrihim mentions the hyperwave inertial momentum sustainers the New Republic got from the Bakurans during the same incident.  This plan has probably been building up for awhile.  The protestors are upset because Coruscant has neglected to consider the well-being of Corellia’s citizens.
 
Unfortunately, they need Anakin to make this work.  They want to slave all five repulsors to Centerpoint to make it more powerful and have greater range.  But they haven’t been able to do it because Centerpoint’s mysteries are not all understood.  Since Anakin was the one to enable to station, he may be the only one who can successfully use it.
 
Anakin knows Jacen predicted this, but he needs to go there himself to find out for sure.  He might be able to just enable a shield to protect the system.  Marcha warns him that Coruscant has been forced to rely on some of the people involved in the Saccorian Triad.  Before Anakin agrees to go, he should know what he may find there, because he might not like it.
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#22
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chapter 22:
 
Han uses the identification and uniform given to him by the droids to bluff his way into doing a spot inspection of the manure works.  While there, he spots Droma and lectures the Salliche Ag rep for having a Ryn down there.  Don’t they know that Ryn have poor hygiene habits?  He insists Droma be subjected to a full medical evaluation before being allowed to return to work.
 
While on their way to the facility, Han hijacks the speeder, has Droma handle the rep while he poses as an executive of Salliche Ag until he’s able to deactivate the transceiver.  He and Droma then make their escape through a field.
 
Sallich Ag representatives watch the chase, trying to determine what all the fuss was over a Ryn and deactivated droids.  One is sure he recognizes the human from somewhere.  They decide to close the sluice control gate on them as they pass through the irrigation channel.
 
When the speeder hits the gate, the escapees are thrown clear into a ditch.  It’s decided to flush them out with the weather control system.
 
Han and Droma end up landing in mud.  Knowing that someone must be watching them, they decide to follow the river down.  They don’t go far when thunder sounds.  Droma brushes it off as Sallich Ag messes with the weather control systems a couple of times per day.  Han realizes what this means, though.  Large drops of rain start to fall.  Ruan’s authorities are going to try to drown them.  
 
A three-meter wall of water rushes at them and picks them up.
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#23
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chapter 23:
 
On Centerpoint, Jenica Sonsen reminds Anakin and Jacen who she is.  Jacen remembers meeting her after the incident all those years ago.  Jenica had left in charge of the station, predominately trying to map the interior.  She explains that the archaeologists were removed for their own safety.  She wishes they hadn’t made a political issue out of it.  If each of the Five Worlds are considered an independent entity, it would likely result in Centerpoint remaining independent…and in New Republic hands.
 
There are a large number of beings here, including one the boys aren’t happy to see.  Thracken Sal-Solo greets them as if they are old friends.  They remind their father’s cousin what happened the last time they were here.  Thracken admits that he made mistakes, but his years in prison made him realize how wrong he’d been.  He’s here to make amends and use his talents to help defend his world. 
 
Of course, the Jedi don’t understand emotions like regret.  They probably think the Yuuzhan Vong can be turned to the light side of the Force.  He has them to thank for stifling a free and independent Corellia. Jacen points out that his methods were wrong.
 
Thracken points out that the New Republic has abandoned Corellia.  He wants to know what they think of using the system as a battlefield.  And if they are here to protect Corellia.
 
Anakin predicates that on what Thracken has planned.  The older man doesn’t think anything else besides an interdiction field is possible.  A technician named Antone agrees with Jacen that Centerpoint could be used to cause supernova, but they’ve not been able to duplicate the explosions caused during the Saccorian incident.
 
The last time that happened, Glowpoint killed thousands of colonists while it reoriented its spin axis.  They don’t want to repeat that.  Jacen believes that, if they just want an interdiction field, they should be able to do that themselves.  Thracken admits he never got the chance to operate the station before Luke and his friends shut it down.  There are technical problems that make it impossible for them to do it on demand.
 
Only Anakin can do it.  The system imprinted on him.  Antone knew that eight years ago but no one really cared to bring him back.  
 
No sooner does Anakin touch the controls, then the system becomes alive, giving him information, reorienting, turning on Glowpoint.  Then the word comes that the Yuuzhan Vong fleet will be here in 36 hours.
 
Leia and Isolder arrive with the Battle Dragons to meet with Commodore Brand.  Leia cannot take her mind off of the vision she’d had.  
 
She’s less happy when Brand confirms in a briefing that Corellia has been left deliberately undefended to lure the Vong there so that they can be trapped.  Ships fitted with HIMS devices will jump to the system from this location.  The Hapan ships do not have those so they will be positioned near the edge so they can use their weaponry to keep the Vong ships from escaping.  They will also be given Interdictors to help.
 
Leia cannot help but get the same sense of dread from this meeting as she has had with Isolder.  She reaches out with the Force to get some assurances.  But the only sense she gets from Han is a raging torrent, then darkness.
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#24
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chapter 24:
 
Han and Droma navigate the river, use the landspeeder for some cover, then end up in the net of a Scout Collector that they are certain is going to flash freeze them.  They argue about how many times each has saved the other, before Han admits it’s been good flying with him.
 
They are surprised to be deposited in an underground facility where dozens of droids greet them. Baffle admits they have been monitoring developments and send the Collector to retrieve them.
 
They are currently beneath the spaceport that leads directly to the bay where the ship is docked.  He thanks them for everything.  
 
Han warns Baffle to get the droids out of here fast as Salliche was probably monitoring everything, too.  Baffle tells him that being captured isn’t their concern.  They are in the process of forming their demonstration.  He’s also learned that the Trevee is headed to Fondor.
 
Han tells Droma that’s where he’ll find his clanmates.  He also wishes Baffle the best with his protest.
 
Wurth Skidder watches Chine-kal walk around him for the second time.  Chine-kal doesn’t understand why Skidder doesn’t use his powers to free himself.  Skidder briefly uses the Force to show him it exists, but does nothing else.  
 
Chine-kal is disappointed.  The Jedi are clearly warriors, but they do not fight.  They are a clear threat to Yuuzhan Vong.  He shows Skidder the planet Kalarba.  The domed city of Hosk Station is on its moon.  It’s just as much of an abomination as Skidder’s Jedi powers.  He’s going to have Hosk destroyed to show how he will break Skidder’s mind.
 
Suddenly, the ship is jolted.  Chine-kal is informed that starfighters are attacking hem.  They had been lying in wait and have destroyed eight coralskippers.  Supreme Commander Choka’s ship hasn’t arrived yet.  
 
The starfighters are targeting their dovin basals.  This means they are trying to cripple the ship, not destroy it.  Chine-kal realizes they’re coming for Wurth.  Since not even the Jedi could call his compatriots, someone must have told them he was here.  He believes the Hutts are responsible for this.  They will have to leave, lest they risk the yammosk being damaged.
 
When he realizes the ship is going to jump, Kyp has his pilots calculate possible courses.  The ship suddenly vanishes.  But they all agree it’s going to Fondor.  
 
Still in Hutt space, Nas Choka receives the message that starfighters targeted the Creche in order to rescue the captured Jedi.  The ship has left for Fondor.  Choka is alarmed.  Malik Carr confirms their advance elements wll be there soon.  The New Republic fleet is massed at Commenor, Kuat and Bothawui.  The hyperspace lanes linking Bothawui to Fondor are full of traps.  
 
Choka is pleased that Nom Anor has tricked the infidels into thinking that they are going to attack Corellia.  He orders the final launch to Fondor.
 
Aboard the Trevee, the refugees are shocked when the ship jumps out of hyperspace early.  They protest at being dropped off at Fondor instead of Abregado-rae. The crew’s spokesperson points out that they will actually be left at an abandoned orbital station.  They’ll be provided with a couple of days provisions to last them until someone comes along.  They shouldn’t worry about that.  This sector is about to become crowded.
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#25
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chapter 25:
 
At Fondor, Han doesn’t waste time with subterfuge, using the ship’s real transponder to get attention below.  The Control tower is happy to speak with him, admits the Trevee had already dropped off its cargo.  It’s less happy when the Falcon deviates from its flight plan to find the Trevee.
 
It soon has other problems when the Vong fleet arrives.  Han finds himself joined by Kyp’s Dozen.  They explain they have chased a ship with Wurth Skidder aboard here.  Kyp sends two of his ships to help Han liberate the refugees who were abandoned while he begins to plot a rescue mission.
 
Leia rushes to the tactical information center as quickly as she can.  She is distracted and she knows that a distracted Jedi is vulnerable.  Brand tells them that the Vong have struck Fondor, tricking them into believing they were coming to Corellia instead.  Isolder offers to launch his ships.
 
Leia refuses to consider it.  Brand thanks Isolder, but tells him that some ships from Bothawui will be sent there.  Unfortunately, he’s told that dovin basal remotes have been seeded into the routes linking Bothawui to Fondor.  They will have to come via another route.    
 
Knowing they will be too late, Brand asks if Isolder’s forces are prepared.  Leia’s head begins to spin.
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