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Edge of Victory II: "Rebirth", Book 8 in the New Jedi Order

chapter discussion thread

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#1
Jedi Cool

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Prologue:
 
Jacen Solo opens his eyes and thinks he’s seeing blood drifting in starlight.
 
Tsavong Lah stands on his new foot and is told by one of his aides that the priestess, Ngaaluh wants a word with him.  He’s not happy with the worshippers of Yun-Harla, but she might have favored him lately, so he obliges.
 
The priestess tells him that she was sent by Harrar.  She reminds him that the priestess Elan who died in service to the Yuuzhan Vong had a familiar in the form of a sentient creature named Vergere.
 
The creature has escaped and made her way back to them. She has much information from her time with the infidels, but some she will only share with Tsavong Lah.  He wonders if this might be a trick. 
 
Ngaaluh doesn’t entirely trust her, but wanted to let him know what was going on.  He decides that she will be interrogated and examined. Afterwards, she will be brought here, but kept from him until her intelligence and intentions can be determined.
 
His brother Qurang Lah arrives with Nom Anor who assures the Warmaster that the battle coming will be brief and victorious.  Lah is aware that Anor has promised this before.  His brother concurs that, while conquest is desirable, this is a foolish time to move.  For now, the infidels are content to wallow in their delusions that it’s possible to share this galaxy.  This gives them time for the shipwomb to swell their already-thinning fleet.
 
Nom Anor thinks delay will give the Jedi time to act.  This brings the warmaster to the question of why Anor still hasn’t been able to produce Jacen Solo.  
 
Anor explains that some of the Jedi have refused to cooperate with the senate or any other body where he has allies.  Though the strategy of offering peace for the Jedi is brilliant, Jacen Solo is kin to those who are adept at evading capture.  He is putting a plan in place to get them all.
 
But that’s contingent on the New Republic being desperate enough for peace to outlaw the Jedi.  That will happen once this next location is struck.  Tsavong Lah knows that Anor has given poor counsel in the past, but he is anxious for conflict.  He advises that they will proceed with the plan. 
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#2
Jedi Cool

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Part I: Threshold:
 
chapter 1:
 
On a beach, Luke Skywalker walks with Mara with his shoes off, remembering how Uncle Owen used to caution him not to absorb valuable moisture through his feet.  He can almost smell Aunt Beru’s cooking now. 
 
He wonders if they know what they died for.  Though Anakin Skywalker was his father, the Larses were his parents.
 
Han and Leia have been gone for a few days, Jacen is off elsewhere staying on the move, and Rogue Squadron would probably like to call Jaina back but her being a Jedi might be politically unwise.
 
They are on Coruscant where some small artificially created islands cruise the sea.  An investor in this tourist attraction is Lando Calrissian who had offered Luke the use of a pleasure craft when he wished.
 
Mara’s well along in her pregnancy and they’re debating a name.  Ever since they went public with the news, she’s been getting suggestions from everywhere.  She thinks he’s afraid to choose.
 
Luke admits a name could be a burden.  Though Leia had chosen to name Anakin as a way to show redemption and forgiveness, Anakin himself found it a burden, fearing he would follow the same path.  Mara admits Leia is admirable in many ways, but she’s a politician. Good for the galaxy, not for the children.
 
Luke tells her they are in the same boat.  Because of who they are, their child will inherit the burden of being part of their family.  Would their child be pressured to be a Jedi?  Would he feel that he had fewer choices in life?
 
While they eat, Kenth Hamner comms them and asks for a few minutes’ visit.  He arrives, greets them warmly and tells them that Borsk Fey’lya has secured a warrant for Luke’s arrest.
 
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#3
Jedi Cool

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chapter 2:
 
The Errant Venture drops out of hyperspace.  Anakin is practicing with his lightsaber against droids bearing amphistaffs.  One of them is shot by Corran Horn before Anakin can tell him the staffs are just training ones he developed.
 
He built the droids, too, so they would move like Yuuzhan Vong.  He doesn’t want his fighting edge dulled by weeks on this ship.  He’s been practicing fighting without the Force since it’s a tool he cannot use against the Vong.
 
He’s not abandoning the Force, but too many Jedi use it as a crutch.  This is something that makes them vulnerable to this new enemy. Corran points out that he can sense them through the Force.  Anakin reminds him that it’s only through the lambent crystal in his lightsaber.
 
Corran isn’t so sure.  He’s never believed the Vong don’t exist in the Force.  They must.   Perhaps, through this piece of biotech, Anakin has learned where to find them.
 
Anakin can’t be sure that didn’t happen, but he cannot lean on it because he might lose the weapon or the lambent might die.  If that happens, he still wants to be able to fight them.
 
Corran warns him about hate, but Anakin assures him he doesn’t hate them.  He’s ready to back out to fight, but needs to stay here for Tahiri.  Corran tells him she won’t get over this in just a few months.  She needs more time and would understand if he has to go.
 
As it happens, Anakin is doing worthy work by helping to protect the students on this ship.  This is why Corran has come to him.  They need supplies and cannot just fly into an inhabited system if they want to be discreet. He is going to take a transport out and wants to know if Anakin would like to come with him.
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#4
Jedi Cool

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chapter 3:
 
Jacen rushes to wake up his parents after they blacked out in the cockpit.  Something fried their power couplings and there’s a huge Yuuzhan Vong warship outside. Leia tells Han to do something now.
 
He goes to change the power couplings while Leia and Jacen are left to determine why nothing is happening.  This area appears to be interdicted by Yuuzhan Vong dovin basals. There are other ships here that have been pulled out, too.  Clearly, this isn’t a safe route to smuggle Jedi through.
 
Han returns to tell them it will take half an hour.  They don’t have that long.  Jacen pulls his lightsaber and his mother follow him into the lounge where her Noghri bodyguards, Meewalh and Adarakh, are waiting.
 
Jacen hears what are probably grutchins chewing on the hull of the shp.  When a hole appears, he flicks on his lightsaber and plunges it into the eye of the beetle before it can do anything. 
 
Then a Yuuzhan Vong warrior appears, pulling himself along a coupling attached to the ship.  Jacen battles him in the coupling before a slit starts to cause a loss of atmosphere.  His strength fading, he knows he’s failed his father and mother, too.
 
Then the coupling seals itself and he can pull himself back into the Falcon.  The Noghri are finishing the dismembering of the other invited boarder. 
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#5
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chapter 4
 
Nen Yim watches the rikyam die.  Her aide, Suung Aruh doesn’t understand why.  Nen tells him that the brain can hardly do better than the worldship itself.  The old master died, leaving no adept and this barely trained initiate.
 
It’s only the sick, inept and disgraced that are sent to worldships while the others attain glory against the infidels.  She tells him that she worked on a failed program and was denied the honor of death.  She’s been exiled here to do what she can.
 
They can’t grow a new brain. It wouldn’t work for this worldship.  All they can do is keep it alive until a new worldship can be grown or they reach a desired planet to settle. 
 
She sends him off to study the protocols.
 
Nen Yim is a heretic, like her late master, Mezhan Kwaad, had been before the Jedi she tried to shape had killed her. 
 
She cannot allow her people to die with this worldship.   She will have to make her own protocol.
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#6
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chapter 5:
 
Kenth Hamner explains that Fey’lya has evidence that Luke and Mara interfered at Yavin IV and has ordered their arrest.  Apparently, the Vong released a prisoner captured there who testified that the Jedi were present and led an unprovoked attack in a neutral system.  The prisoner claims to have been part of Talon Karrde’s force.  He’s also revealed that Karrde has been in regular contact with the Skywalkers.
 
Mara thinks it’s more likely a Peace Brigader was released.  None of Karrde’s people would talk.
 
However, the accusations are true.  Luke explains to Hamner that he’d asked Karrde to evacuate the students because he feared they would be captured and turned over to the Vong.  As it happens, the Peace Brigade was already there when Karde arrived.  Luke had implored Fey’lya to send New Republic forces, but the Chief of State refused.
 
As for the witness, he may be lying about who he is, but not about what happened.  
 
Hamner also mentions that Internal Security went over the starship activity during that time and found, not only Anakin’s uncleared departure, but also Shada D’ukal’s visit.  Additionaly, they found Jacen and Jaina’s forged security clearance when they left in Mara’s ship.
 
Fey’lya cannot overlook even minor Jedi infractions while he’s battling the representatives who want him to cave in to Tsavong Lah.  Regardless of their feelings about the Chief, he isn’t ready to abandon the Jedi to the Vong.  But he is trying this as a kind of damage control.  In this way, he can appear more moderate.
 
Hamner doubts Luke will get anything beyond house arrest and maybe to tell the Jedi to stop bending rules.  Luke will not tell his Order to stop defending themselves when they are being hunted.  He’ll try to keep them from interfering with the military but that’s it.
 
The Jedi mission is older than the New Republic’s.
 
That’s when something occurs to Luke.  He wonders when he confused the Jedi with the government.  He has been in the middle of this because he was afraid to separate the Jedi Order from a government he helped build.  The government that has been pushing him out.
 
Hamner admits he thinks Fey’yla hopes Luke will take off so that he will be able to claim that the Jedi are out of his reach.  Mara argues that Fey’lya is happy to have them around when he needs them, but until then, they’re on their own.
 
She becomes very angry until suddenly she looks weak and grabs her belly.  Luke calls for an MD droid.
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#7
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chapter 6:
 
Anakin works underneath the transport Lucre when Tahiri shows up.  She wonders when he was going to tell her he was leaving.  He assures her that he’s just going on a supply run with Corran.
 
Tahiri frets about how he doesn’t consider how she feels.  Everyone here acts like she’s about to split open and reveal a Yuuzhan Vong inside.  Anakin asks if she’s considered having the scars removed before realizing that was the wrong approach.  Tahiri doesn’t get angry, but she does point out that she earned the scars.  She wants to come with him.
 
Though Anakin and Tahiri are more powerful together than separately, there are times like this one in which he understands his father’s frustration with women.  He’s not sure if she’s ready for this.  Even though it’s just a supply run, there’s still some danger.  
 
But he trusts Tahiri. She isn’t sure he should.  She almost killed him on Yavin IV.  Anakin assures her that it wasn’t the real her then.  Tahiri is having trouble determining if it wasn’t.  
 
He promises to talk to Corran about letting her along.
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#8
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chapter 7:
 
Artoo works on his task while C 3PO frets over the danger involved in this repair.  Jacen admits he isn’t as mechanically versed as Anakin is, but they’ll have to make do.  C 3PO should take the missles to the end of the dump vent and give them a push toward the interdictor.
 
In the cockpit, he finds his mother.  The Vong haven’t acted yet, but they must know something’s up.  They’re just too proud to wait for reinforcements. Or maybe they’re so confident that they’re not paying attention.  
 
The concussion missles head out, looking much like flotsam.  Jacen finishes welding plating over the holes in the ship which won’t last too long.  When coralskippers detach, Jacen has C 3PO come back inside.  Han engages the Falcon’s maneuvering thrusters.  
 
Jacen starts detonating missles that break the dovin basal’s lock on the ship, but he doesn’t believe his father can get them away fast enough.  He goes down to the turbolaser.
 
C 3PO had just gotten inside when the ship’s acceleration throws him against the wall.  He is nearly pulled out into space with the last missle, grabbing onto the lock, legs dangling into space as the ship takes off. He calls for Artoo and wishes he’d stayed on Coruscant.
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#9
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chapter 8:
 
Mara’s unconscious by the time the MD droid arrives.  Luke hovers over her while Hamner wanders helplessly nearby.  Luke just can’t lose Mara.  She slowly wakes up, fearing for their baby.
 
The droid has found chemicals in the placenta that she identifies as Vergere’s tears.  Hamner doesn’t understand.  She explains that she was infected by some Vong chemical agent that was cured when Elan’s pet gave Han a vial of what she said were her tears.  Her disease went away.
 
Mara ran out of the real tears months ago but has been using a synthesized version she believes may be harming their child.  Hamner wants to get her to a medical facility, but she won’t give up their chance to avoid house arrest.  The MD droid believes the present danger has passed.  So long as she doesn’t take any more of the synthetic tears, she doesn’t think she’ll have a problem.  
 
He calls Cilghal and Ism Oolos, a Ho’Din doctor, who agree to meet them at their apartment.  Oolos wants to look Mara over in his laboratory instead.  Luke reluctantly makes plans for them to leave, not wanting to risk his wife and child away from Coruscant’s top-notch medical care.  
 
After Oolos and Cilghal do their analysis, they determine that the synthesized tears were the cause.  She shouldn’t take them anymore.  They don’t know why the original tears worked in the first place.    The synthetic tears were just duplicates they copied without really understanding them.  
 
Luke thinks something has to be different now or this wouldn’t be happening.
 
Oolos points out that it’s probably the baby.  The Yuuzhan Vong disease is still there, the tears are keeping it in check.  But the substance doesn’t recognize the development of the unborn child as being a normal part of her body.  It’s treating the baby like an illness.  Mara’s immune system is also rejecting the modifications it’s making which is causing the shock.  This began with the preganancy and has built up to dangerous levels now.
 
Cilghal doesn’t think the baby has been harmed yet.  But Mara’s at her tolerance level.  Her body will flush out the chemicals over time, but the next month will be a dangerous time.  Any more tears would bring about a stronger reaction than the one today. They cannot flush out the poisons without harming the baby.  With one month of pregnancy to go, they are at a crossroads.
 
Cilghal suggests they induce labor now.
 
She cannot say what the result will be, but Mara makes the decision to leave.  Oolos cannot remain, but tells them he will continue to try to improve on the tears.
 
Jaina arrives at Coruscant, glad to fly again.  For months, she’s been grounded by her eyes and by Rogue Squadron’s reluctance to have a Jedi with them.  Colonel Darklighter has even asked her to extend her life indefinitely.
 
She is alone for now.  Anakin is with Tahiri on the Errant Venture, Jacen is with their parents working on the “Great River” and she stayed behind hoping that her squadron would recall her.  She’s tempted to find the Falcon, but decides to stick around and give the Rogues more time.
 
Her comm. signals.  It’s Mara.  They’re taking the Jade Shadow up and want Jaina to meet them.  
 
As Luke and Mara leave the planet, they try to decide where to go first.  Luke decides that they should find Booster first because he’ll have some of the medical assistance she needs.  After that, they will continue to work on finding a haven for the Jedi.  
 
He’s not thrilled with her going off of the tears and risking her illness coming back.  She thinks the alternative is worse. Besides, they have worse problems right now.  Planetary security is hailing them and four ships are on an intercept course.
 
Luke suspects that Fey’lya has to prove he tried to get them.  If they weren’t outlaws before, they are now.
 
Jaina can’t believe she’s seeing the Jade Shadow under fire.  She offers them a hand.  Luke advises her to stay out of it.  She won’t listen, but intends to try to cripple the pursuers instead of killing them.
 
Then at least twelve more starfighters arrive.
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#10
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chapter 9:
 
C 3PO is pulled in by Artoo.
 
Jacen wings around the turret while the ship’s shields fail.  They will be out of the mass shadow in one minute.  Leia yells for them to go now.  A moment later, the stars are gone as they jump to hyperspace.
 
Han isn’t sure where they’re going but he’s sure the ship needs repaired.  Jacen thinks they were hit with something they hadn’t seen yet.  Whatever it was, it shut their systems down, but, beyond that, didn’t really harm them.
 
Han thinks this whole thing is crazy.  They’ve not been able to do much to help Luke. After all, some contacts of Leia’s turned out to be Peace Brigaders.  She argues that he had friends on Bimmisaari that turned on them, too.  As they argue, Jacen contemplates how his parents have almost turned back to normal.  They’d stopped talking to each other after Chewbacca’s death.  It was one of the worst experiences of his life.  Now they’re like their old selves, but there’s something different about it.  It’s as if the good natured ribbing is gone and the wrong word might cause the whole thing to break.
 
But it’s better than the silence.
 
It takes them awhile to get their bearings before they can calculate the jump to the Maw.  Han doubts there are many who could follow him.  Any Yuuzhan Vong following them will likely end up destroyed out here.
 
The station known as Shelter – put together with pieces of the old Maw Installation – is where they are hiding the Jedi for now.  Leia congratulates Han on the work he did putting this together.  He reminds her that, while he was out here, they had no idea that Anakin was nearly killed on Yavin IV.
 
Lando Calrissian meets them.  After they have the chance to clean up, change and be looked over by a medical droid, he takes them to his quarters and offers refreshments. They’re not grand, but it’s the best he can do.  He also apologizes for not making Chewbacca’s funeral.  Some of his people were trapped near Obroa-skai and he had to help them.  Han doesn’t begrudge him doing what he had to do.
 
Lando and Tendra’s business is making do.  They lost Dubrillion but he’s spread out his assets over the years.  He’s still got the Kessel operation working, but it’s attracted some pirates. The Peace Brigade has also approached him.  He sent them away quickly, not believing they didn’t realize who they were dealing with.  He thinks they’re expanding into supplying the subject populations in Vong-held territory.   Apparently, they wanted him to provide some guards.
 
They finally meet up with their guests: Bana the Hutt represents the Hutt resistance, Numa Rar was a student of Daeshara’cor and is now leading the New Plympto resistance and Opeli Mors who represents the Jin’ri trade syndicate which formed to meet the needs of refugees.
 
Leia thinks this is just war profiteering. 
 
They are forced to put aside their differences for now.  Leia explains that, while Shelter is intended to get Jedi out of harm’s way, it’s also going to help get them into places that need their help, like Bana’s people.
 
Numa isn’t sure she should be here, especially if Master Skywalker agrees with Jacen’s views on the Force.  Fear of the Dark Side is not a luxury her people can afford right now.  Jacen promises to do what he can: bring food, supplies and help evacuate people who have to leave.  But the Jedi cannot become guerilla fighters.  Fighting the dark side is a necessity in his opinion.
 
Mors would like to help, providing ships and troops, but it will cost.  Han reminds her that the New Republic isn’t the one funding this place; this small group has, with the help of the Hutts, of course.  Mors argues that the Hutts have something to gain.   
 
Leia points out that she and her syndicate do, too, unless they believe that the Vong will leave them alone.  Mors explains that it is for that reason that she’s been authorized to loan the group one ship at no charge as an investment.
 
When they are alone, Han admits to Leia that he doesn’t think this will work.  At least, he’s being realistic which is something Luke hasn’t been for awhile.  He’s glad Luke is finally doing something, but he doesn’t think this Great River idea is workable.  Everyone wants to take and not give.  She assures him they will find the money.  In her eyes is the fire he saw on the Death Star the day they met.  He hugs her.
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#11
Jedi Cool

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chapter 10:
 
Nen Yim watches a mass of cells, believing she sees signs of regeneration.  It will take some time before she’s sure.  The commander of the worldship, Ona Shai, arrives.
 
One-fourth of the population of [b]Baanu Miir[i] is dead.
 
She heads through the emergency membrane to find frozen bodies piled on the floor.  They’d had time to reach this place as the air drained out slowly before the ship decided to seal itself off.  A terrible way to die.
 
She cannot tell what happened for sure.  She hopes to see the breach itself.  The prefect wishes there was a master on board instead of just an adept.  Nen Yim agrees.  Silently, she thinks it should have been her own master, Mezhan Kwaad.
 
As she looks over the breach itself, she sees that the muscle tore itself. For some reason, the rikyam didn’t monitor the fluctuations or warn anyone.  Its senses in this arm are probably dead.  The shipbrain is senile and losing control of its functions.  
 
They can seal the rupture but the entire inner hull is dead.  But it’s just a temporary solution.  The rikyam is probably losing control of the other arms, as well.  Unless they can regenerate it, they will have to abandon the worldship. 
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#12
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chapter 11:
 
Jaina can’t believe she’s seeing Rogue Squadron out there.  Gavin Darklighter comes over the comm. and tells them that he’s explained the security forces’s mistake to them.  Luke tells him that more ships will just come.  
 
This is not the way to fix things.  Fragmenting the New Republic will cause more harm than good.  Luke has many disagreements with Fey’lya but, in his own way, the Chief is trying to save them all.
 
That squabbling crowd that Gavin hates so much is a democracy. And it’s a democracy that they all worked very hard to establish.  They aren’t throwing it way for convenience’s sake.  
 
Mara understands that they are doing the right thing by leaving.  Under house arrest, they would be symbols.  They cannot allow the New Republic to endure a coup.
 
Gavin contacts Jaina, apologizing for not bringing her back to the squadron sooner. She understands.  For now, she is going to look after Luke.
 
Afterwards, Luke tells Jaina to find Kyp Durron.  Something has changed.  The Jedi have to draw themselves back together.  Finding him won’t be hard.  Luke put a tracer on his ship just in case.  Right now, he’s at Sernpidal.  As deep into Vong territory as one can get.
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#13
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Part II: Passage:

 
chapter 12:
 
Tahiri gasps that it stinks here.  Corran welcomes her to Eriadu where they make stuff cheap and dirty.  The smell isn’t natural.  The place is ugly, Anakin says.  Tahiri just thinks it’s different.  The kids are being left behind to watch the ship.  Corran won’t be long.
 
Tahiri complains about coming all this way only to be left on the ship.  She asks if Anakin thinks people from here think clean worlds smell weird.  Admittedly, she thought Yavin IV did after living on Tatooine so long.  She wonders what the Vong did to the moon.
 
Anakin would rather not think about it.  She admits she lied a moment ago.  Eriadu is ugly.  But when she thought it was, the word that came to her mind was “abomination”.  If Anakin hadn’t rescued her, she’d be one of them now.  Anakin thinks part of her would always remember her other life. 
 
He notices her hair, cut short like his mom’s.  She starts to pick on him, when they both sense something in the Force.  A Jedi is in trouble.  Anakin tells her to stay with the ship and he’ll go look.  
 
She insists on going with him.  They use the Jedi Mind Trick to get through the customs line before racing off to find a Rodian Jedi, Kelbis Nu, being attacked by the Peace Brigade.  
 
The two Jedi work to chase off the attackers, though one is killed.  Kelbis Nu, however, is too injured.  He dies, but, with his last breath, gasps “Yag-duhl”.  Tahiri is saddened that she couldn’t save a fellow Jedi.  They should go after the Peace Brigaders. Anakin reminds her that Jedi are not assassins. Neither can they go to the authorities because they’re supposed to be here anonymously and not attracting attention like this.  Unfortunately, they’ve already done that.  Two security vehicles arrive and take them into custody.
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#14
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chapter 13:
 
At Sernpidal, Jaina meets Kyp who tells her he was about to come looking for her and Rogue Squadron.  He’s found something he can’t handle with just his ships, but must be handled quickly.
 
The Dozen have melted tunnels and caves through the ice and sealed it.  They keep it freezing here.  Jaina tells him that Luke sent her to find him after he and Mara fled Borsk Fey’lya’s arrest warrant.
 
Kyp doesn’t think that was smart of Fey’lya and wonders if he’s working for the Peace Brigade.  He asks what Luke is doing.  She tells him Mara is pregnant so they are hiding out with Booster Terrik until a safe place can be found to harbor a Jedi base.
 
Once Kyp realizes that Luke is still not advocating what he’s doing out here, he’s not encouraged, but what he is willing to do is more than Kyp thought he would.  He’ll meet with Luke, but he wants something from Jaina in return. 
 
He tells her that he’s learned that the Vong are growing ships on what remains of Sernpidal.  They are growing one that is about the size of a Death Star.  No one has done anything about it.
 
 It’s not even finished yet, but it can generate a gravity well powerful enough to pull solar atmosphere in for over a hundred thousand kilometers.  If they can take this thing out of the system, nothing will stop them.
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#15
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chapter 14:
 
The Falcon comes out of hyperspace and spots a freighter with no teeth out here.  It could be a smuggler or a relief ship, but Han tells Leia to run silent and let them pass so they can see who they really are.
 
Jacen is in meditation, just trying to become a part of the living Force.  He considers that the death off one diminishes everyone. This must apply to the Yuuzhan Vong, too, though they don’t appear in the Force.  He doesn’t agree with Anakin who believes the Force is only a glimmer of something larger.  That feels wrong, yet the traditional view of the Force as having a will of its own that a Jedi must try to understand and work through, also feels wrong.
 
The lights go out.  Jacen heads to the cockpit and finds that his parents are watching the Yuuzhan Vong escort a freighter toward Ylesia where the Peace Brigade is headquartered.  He is concerned when his parents want to attack, especially since their mission was to help set up networks for refugees.
 
Han tells him they’re not going out of their way to harass collaborators.  They just happened to come across this situation.  He reminds Jacen that there is a war on.  Jacen points out that he was brought on this mission with the understanding that they were here to do certain specific things.
 
Han yells at him that the understanding never put Jacen in charge, especially of a democracy.  He loves Jacen, but tells him to sit down and shut up. 
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chapter 15:
 
Nen Yim speaks with Master Tjulan Kwaad to try to get information that is not available to an adept such as herself.  Tjulan will not help as he considers Nen just as guilty of heresy as her late master. 
 
Later, though, he reconsiders, realizing she might do more harm.  A master will be sent.  Knowing that the master will know she is violating the protocols, Nen realizes her death is near.
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#16
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chapter 16:
 
Anakin insists that he and Tahiri came to the assistance of a Rodian Jedi who was being attacked by a mob.  They killed no one.  It doesn’t take long for him to determine that the police and the Peace Brigade are working together on this world.
 
When the officer slaps him, Anakin knows Tahiri can feel it.  She reponds quickly by bursting down the door from where she’s being held, holding a blaster and shouting in another language.
 
She pushes the officer back with a Force blast and releases Anakin.  They race down to find a couple of officers playing with their lightsabers.  Anakin uses the Force to call the sabers to hit, knocking out a couple of light fixtures along the way that plunge the room into darkness.
 
On the way out, Tahiri jokes that he probably saved the men’s lives by taking the sabers away. 
 
When they reach the spaceport, Corran is surprised to see them coming toward him.  Anakin yells at him to close the landing ramp. Inside, he urges Corran to fly quickly.  Corran races away from the port with security after them.
 
They are hit with a planetary defense laser before Corran tells Anakin to make a series of  microjumps Coreward.  Then he demands to know what’s going on.
 
When they finish their story, Corran explains that he understands why they did it, but they shouldn’t have.  He felt Kelbis Nu, also, but couldn’t pinpoint where he was.  Even if he had, he had Anakin and Tahiri to think about.
 
For now, he wants to know more about the fact that Kelbis’s last word was Yag’Duhl.  Anakin thinks the world might be in danger. That’s when Corran asks where the jump is taking them.  Anakin mentions Corran told him Coreward.  He’s angry when he realizes they will come out near the Yag’Duhl system. 
 
Corran reminds Anakin that they are here to get supplies, not mount a rescue mission.  He tells them that he’s in charge of this mission and they are to follow his orders from now on, not just guess at them.
 
When they leave hyperspace, what Corran takes for an asteroid field turns out to be a Yuuzhan Vong fleet.
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#17
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chapter 17:
 
After Luke finds the Errant Venture, he tells Mara they will be there in a couple of days.  She is irritable and not feeling well.  He senses there is more.  She tells him the disease is not present in their child, but she cannot say whether or not it has returned to her.
 
When they reach the Venture, Luke notes that Kam Solusar, Tionne, Mirax Horn and the students are there.  He also sees that Corran isn’t here, neither is Anakin or Tahiri.
 
He tells them that they should talk, but Mirax insists Mara gets some rest first.  Cilghal decides to accompany them.
 
In Booster’s conference room, Luke discusses the arrest warrant.  He’s not sure they really would have been arrested.  Kenth Hamner believes that Borsk Fey’lya used it as a way to get Luke safely off Coruscant.  Though the Chief of State has never been a strong Jedi supporter, he’s smart enough to realize arresting Luke won’t solve his problems.
 
Right now, Han, Leia, Jacen and many others are creating a network to help those in need to escape danger.  They will ultimately need a place to hide that only they can find.  Kam suggests the Maw Installation.  Luke dismisses it as too well known.  It may be difficult to navigate through, but they don’t know the limits of Yuuzhan Vong technology. 
 
Booster thinks the Deep Core would be just as bad, if not worse.  However, it can’t be impossible.  Tionne suggests that she and Kam need some action.  They can find a way through the Deep Core and a world safe for the Jedi. 
 
Booster confirms that Anakin went with Corran for supplies.  He didn’t know Tahiri had gone, too.  Kam points out that Corran obviously had no idea what he was doing, taking both of them.
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#18
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chapter 18:
 
In vac suits, Tahiri, Anakin and Corran watch their ship blow up and walk toward a fissure to hide.  Corran tells them they’ve got enough supplies for three days.  They just have to hope the fleet leaves this place so they can activate an emergency beacon.
 
Anakin reminds him that they cannot warn Yag’Duhl if they wait for the fleet to leave.  Tahiri points out that, if it weren’t for Anakin trying to do the right thing, she and Corran’s kids would be Yuuzhan Vong right now.
 
Corran is appreciative of what Anakin did, but thinks he learned the wrong lesson.  One day, his recklessness is going to tip out of his favor. 
 
A day passes.  Corran wonders if they can get additional lambents since the one in Anakin’s lightsaber is doing well at sensing the Vong presence.  Anakin isn’t sure it would work for every Jedi.  Besides, to get more, they’d have to raid a Vong world and that is probably considered too aggressive.
 
Corran tells him he knows Anakin resents the correction, but he feels it’s important because the younger students look up to him and want to emulate him.  The fact of the matter is that many of the other students don’t have the same raw strength in the Force that Anakin does and they cannot get out of the scrapes that he can. 
 
Anakin knows this and does not encourage them.  He’s also worried about Tahiri, but has to think about that a little more.
 
She comes to sit with him and they put their helmets together.  Anakin asks if she’s alright.  He knows that she yelled a Yuuzhan Vong battle cry when she came to rescue him.  She tells him that it just came out.  Everything the Vong shapers put in her is still there.  She can overlook most of it, but she can still hear their language and sometimes thinks in it.
 
Anakin tells her about his vision of her as an adult, scarred and tattooed, but a Dark Jedi.  It worried him.  She assures him she’s not going to turn into a Yuuzhan Vong.
 
The asteroid begins to vibrate and Corran yells that they are accelerating.  They realize that the the asteroid they’re standing on is a ship, too.
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#19
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chapter 19:
 
Jaina awakens to a blaring horn and remembers she’s in Kyp’s hideout.  Kyp appears to tell her that the Yuuzhan Vong recon just jumped into the system.  They’re going to have to take the back way out.
 
Jaina tells him she will go to Rogue Squadron with his information. 
 
After clearing the planet, Kyp tells her the Dozen are headed to another hole while he’ll accompany her to the Core.  They make several jumps.  He asks her if Luke really sent her.
 
Jaina tells him that he’s trying to pull the Jedi back together, as well as figure out what Kyp is up to.  She doesn’t like what he’s become. He reminds her he is what Luke was during the war with the Empire.  He is willing to follow Luke once the master decides he’s going to be a leader.
 
Jaina thinks Kyp will only consider Luke a leader if he’s being told to do things he already wants to do.  Kyp reminds her that the Yuuzhan Vong are destroying whole worlds and populations.  It’s a holy obligation to them.  He cannot believe that the Force is asking a passive role of the Jedi.  Luke Skywalker risked everything in his war against the Empire.  This is their war now.  The old Jedi Order is gone. 
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#20
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chapter 20:
 
After taking care of the Vong ships, Han comms the freighter whose captain claims to be running food supplies to the native population.
 
Han, of couse, doesn’t believe them and boards.  He threatens the captain if he’s running weapons or ferrying captives.  The captain relents and admits he’s got weapons.  There are two Yuuzhan Vong guards aboard.
 
Han seals off the compartment until the Vong collapse for lack of air.  Jacen doesn’t like any of this, particularly the piracy.  Han points out that he couldn’t have thought he would be able to set up this Great River of Luke’s without getting his hands dirty.  They find that the cargo of weapons is not blasters or grenades, but Yuuzhan Vong amphistaffs.
 
It looks like the Peace Brigade is moving away from technological weapons.  Tired of listening to Jacen pontificate on the morals involved, Han tells him he can take an E-Wing and go sit out the war meditating.
 
He realizes, too late, how Jacen has become like his mother. 
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#21
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chapter 21:
 
The three Jedi use their lightsabers to cut a hole deep into the ridge of the ship and then enter it.  Yuuzhan Vong warriors appear to investigate the breach while the Jedi hide.  Aakin feels Corran creeping toward a door and the two students follow.  Then Anakin turns to see a warrior bringing an amphistaff down.  He ignites his lightsaber and catches the attack.
 
Corran battles the other one and kills him just as the amphistaff of the other comes down on his helmet.  Tahiri works to recycle the lock before the lack of atmosphere kills Corran.  Finally, they drag him through into the other chamber and get his helmet off.
 
The ship is small enough that only five other warriors are aboard.  They detain the non-warriors and surmise they are on a scout ship of some kind.  They need to know if the rest of the fleet knows it’s been captured, where it’s going and if they can fly it.
 
Tahiri knows she can.  She determines that it’s called the Stalking Moon and a hyperdrive jump has been laid in for five minutes from now.  She doesn’t think anyone is following them.  They may or may not be going to Yag’Duhl.  They’ll either find the Givin prepared to blow them out of the sky because they’re in a Vong ship or a Vong base already established.
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chapter 22:
 
Cilghal is unhappy with the test results.  Luke has taken his X-Wing out to contact several physicians with them. 
 
They all know it’s coming back.  The rate of mutation has increased five times and it’s worse then before she began taking the tears. Nothing is touching the baby.  Cilghal realizes that Mara is putting everything she’s got into keeping the disease from him.
 
She only has to last until she gives birth.  Cilghal isn’t convinced she will survive giving birth.  She can augment some of Mara’s strength and cleanse her body of some toxins.  But she cannot eliminate the disease.
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#22
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chapter 23:
 
Master Kae Kwaad is sent to Nen Yim.  He is odd and changes her last name to Tsup, a name she has never heard of but it is a word that used to refer to slaves put to unseemly uses.
 
Then he demands to know the coordinates of the worldship.
 
Nen realizes Tjulan Kwaad has sent a mad and crippled master to help her.
 
The next day, she finds he has discovered her experiments.  She explains she strained protocol because she does not have acces to the higher levels of knowledge.  He tells her that they are going to shape today the perfect grutchin.
 
This is wasteful work as the fleet is replete with grutchins and she soon begins to contemplate killing him.
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#23
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chapter 25:
 
When the ship reverts to realspace, Corran asks if they are surrounded again.  Tahiri can’t see anything but ships around the planet and they seem to be paying no mind to anything else. 
 
The ship seems to indicate that they are to gauge the readiness of the enemy.  Anakin mentions they could ask the prisoners for more information, but Corran doesn’t think they can count on their cooperation.  Anakin suggests he might modify an emergency beacon to run through one of the wrist comm. units.
 
The shapers have been detained while the The Shamed Ones are nearby.  Corran tries to determine who is in charge and what they were supposed to be doing.  He is told tht the warrior in charge of the mission is dead.  The shaper calls him a Jedi and tells him he won’t aid them.
 
Corran pulls a Shamed One and leads her away.  The female Vong realizes that Tahiri was the Jedi-Who-Was-Shaped.  Corran explains that he notices this one give a strange face when the shaper mentioned the word Jedi.  Tahiri translates that the Shamed One’s name is Taan and she wants to know if the stories about the Jedi are true.  The Jedi are the salvation of the Shamed Ones.
 
According to Taan, the story goes that the Jedi have powers that no Yuuzhan Vong has.  The other Vong are jealous of these powers and the Shamed Ones feared them,too, because it was felt they were infidels and dangerous enemies.  On aYavin IV, two Jedi came and redeemed Vua Rapuung who died saluting an infidel.  The gods must have aided this.  This has caused some to question the high castes’ understanding of the will of the gods.  The Shamed Ones may not be cursed after all but had their shame imposed upon them by those who want them to do the mundane world.
 
She will help them, if they will accept it.
 
Anakin finds Corran and Tahiri speaking with a Shamed One who is handling a villip.  Corran tells him that Taan has spoken to the commander of this fleet and told him something has gone wrong, but she can’t explain what because of her status.  She only knows that all the crew is dead.
 
Anakin thinks it’s a good idea. If they believe her, they assume some natural phenomena impaired the ship or some weapon employed by the Givin did.  If not, there could have been a revolt on the ship.  Tahiri assures them that no Yuuzhan Vong would ever admit to a revolt under his command. 
 
Anakin asks why they chose Yag’Duhl.  Corran tells him they are making sure nothing hits them from behind.  Besides, Yag’Duhl gives them a shot at Thyferra where the bacta is. 
 
Anakin uses his modified transmitter to hail the planetary defense force but nothing responds.   Then they get a sputter and an image of a Givin with a strange face.  The Givin welcomes them in Vong and tells them they’ve been expecting them.
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#24
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chapter 26:
 
Wedge scowls at Kyp who is sitting between Jaina and Gavin at a hiding place on Chandrila.  Gavin tells him that he didn’t think Wedge would agree to meet if he knew Kyp was coming and he didn’t want to tell Wedge anyway over a comm. in case someone was listening in.
 
Wedge doesn’t like Kyp whom he says is a murderer at best.  Kyp points out he was a different person then.  He also apologizes again for what happened to Qwi Xux.  At the time, he felt that she knew things that were dangerous to the New Republic and believed he was doing the right thing.
 
Jaina interjects and tells Wedge that Kyp has uncovered information is very important.  After reviewing the holoimage, Wedge agrees it looks bad, but they have to be able to prove this is a military weapon or the Senate will not do anything about it.   Security in the Senate is horrible and the Yuuzhan Vong will find out very quickly what has been uncovered, will contact Borsk Fey’lya and assure him this is merely a defensive device.  Besides, a great many senators will not put their trust in Kyp’s credibility.
 
Wedge doessn’t care for Fey’lya either, but the Chief of State is not a traitor and not a fool.  He’s playing the Yuuzhan Vong’s game, buying time.  There won’t be an official mission sanctioned.
 
Jaina mentions that Wedge may not have the authority, but he does have the influence.  Gavin will ask for volunteers, but assumes he won’t have to worry about that anyway.  Wedge will contact Admiral Kre’fey to see if he can do anything.  Regardless of what happens, Kyp Durron will not be in charge of the mission or command his squadron unsupervised. 
 
Later, Kyp asks why Jaina is avoiding him.  She tells him that she knows he’s going to ask her to fly with him and she can’t.  He asks why not and then mentions he really wasn’t going to ask.  All of this is somewhat on the flirtatious side which makes Jaina more uncomfortable.
 
He says he wants her to be his apprentice.  Her Jedi training has been interrupted and he thinks she should take it up again.  Mara is unavailable and he knows Jaina doesn’t agree with her on the war strategy.  Jaina is more like him.
 
She says she’ll think about it, but not too long.
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#25
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chapter 27:
 
Han salutes their fifth cargo impounded.  He and Jacen are in a bar on Tatooine where they meet with Shalo, an old acquaintance. Shalo tells them that the Yuuzhan Vong don’t appear to like Tatooine very much so it’s become a center of commerce on the Rim.
 
Han tries to get some information from Shalo about the Peace Brigade, but Shalo is more interested in collecting the huge bounty on Jacen.  Nothing happens when he gives the signal, though, and finds himself confronted with Jacen’s lightsaber.
 
Talon Karrde announces that Shada has it under control. Shalo insists he was only going to try to extort protection money.  He gives up the berths where the ships land, but he doesn’t know anything else. 
 
Karrde mentions that the ones coming out of Kuat are going through money laundering extensively and can be traced back to Kuat Photonics.  He has a list of the owners.  Jacen asks if Viqi Shesh is on the list, but she’s not. 
 
Jacen insists he’s going with Shada, but Han would rather he stay on the Falcon, knowing how dangerous this world is.  Karrde notes that the argument is pointless right now and begins firing.
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  • Surely, Vong technology can remake even a desert world like Tatooine, though, right?

 




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