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"Star By Star": Book 9 in The New Jedi Order

chapter discussion thread

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#51
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

    They call me MRS. Six!

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chapter 52:
 
Luke and Mara are working with Lando on taking out the yammosk when they get a planetside communication.  Han and Leia explain where Ben is and that they’re stuck for now.  Mara assures Leia that she and Luke will get the baby back.  Of immediate concern is getting Han and Leia off the planet.  They don’t have the hours they will need to refill containment fluid.
 
Lando offers to pick them up in Lady Luck, but Han refuses to leave his ship behind.    
 
Luke and Mara veer off in their ships, but Mara gets damaged on the way.  Luke tells the Bryt to alter course so they can protect it.  He gets pushback unti he has to tell them who he is that their pursuers will not give up since his son is aboard.  
 
With Mara severely damaged, she tells him to go after Ben.  He tries, but his ship is disabled in the pursuit.  He tells Mara he’s sorry before joining her falling ship.  
 
When Jaina wakes up, she feels like she’s in a dream.  Alema Rar is holding the longblaster and laughing.  Jaina tells her to kill some more.  Zekk tells her to be quiet; he may not have a brother, but he knows the Dark Side.  She’s using the Force to kill.
 
Tahiri is still with Anakin’s body, nursing a broken arm and telling him how they rescued him.  Lowie is dealing with the Wookiee version of a concussion.  Zekk tells Jaina that Nom Anor is hoping to get them alive.
 
Han doesn’t fully understand Noghri, but he knows what he owes them for defending his family.  He’s always sorry to see one die.  Meelwah howls of sorrow move him before he has to get to the cockpit.  Leia is sitting in Chewbacca’s old seat, dazed.  She doubts he needs her, she’ll just let him down.
 
He admits that he thought she’d be stronger than this.  She accuses him of caring only for Wookiees.  Han tells her that he is refusing to give up, regardless of who they’ve lost.  They still have each other.  Leia doesn’t think that’s much.  Han reminds her that they still have hope, and Jacen and Jaina and the New Republic.  She argues that the New Republic died before the Yuuzhan Vong even came.  Han refuses to accept that…for it means their son died for nothing.
 
They might have enough power to get to a refueling station.  She doesn’t think they do, but suggests Imperial City’s landing pad.  They need to see Borsk Fey’lya.  She has something she can do for him.
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#52
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

    They call me MRS. Six!

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chapter 53:
 
As the Falcon lands on Fey’lya’s private landing pad, the Orbital Defense Headquarters are burning.  They leave Meelwah guarding the boy – Dab Hantaq, apparently – behind.  
 
General Garv Tomas greets them.  Leia explains that Viqi Shesh sabotaged their ship.  They need to recharge their containment fluid; she also wants to see Fey’lya.  Tomas assures her they can do both, then expresses his condolences for Anakin’s death.
 
Leia notices that the data towers are still intact.  Tomas agrees they should be destroyed, but the Chief will not do it.  Han can’t believe Fey’lya thinks he can hold the planet.  The data towers include records on every survey.  If the Vong get them, there won’t be a safe place to put a base.  Leia knows the time to destroy them is now, but she only mentions that Fey’lya will do it when the time is right and that Tomas might consider arming the charges for the time being. 
 
The Chief of State wonders if she’s come to gloat.  He’s surprised when she says she’s come to apologize for not helping with the military when he asked.  He assures her the apologies should be his for even asking for her help after her terrible loss.  
 
She offers to give the armed forces a few words.  At this point, he doesn’t think it will hurt.  The military is abandoning Coruscant as Senators race for home and keep picking off pieces of any fleet they can.  
 
Mara can’t believe Luke plummeted them into the only body of open water on Coruscant.  Luke reminds her that it was that or a tower somewhere.  After rescuing Artoo, they discuss their precarious situation.  Luke assures Mara they should trust the Force.  Mara points out that the Force didn’t save Anakin.  He wonders if Anakin wasn’t mean to save them instead.  Then Artoo manages to contact Leia.
 
Leia’s speech reminds the people of the New Republic that the Yuuzhan Vong didn’t come as friends.  They would have been welcomed if they had.  Instead they saw a galaxy at peace and assumed that it represented weakness.  They attacked with provocation, murdering and enslaving millions of beings.  The New Republic has fought them at every engagement all the way to the Core.  Her own family has not been spared terrible losses.  Yet they are still fighting.
 
Soon, the Vong will be on Coruscant. She urges the people, whether they were able to evacuate or will be trapped here, to keep fighting.  It’s the same thing she would tell her surviving children if she was able to communicate with them now.
 
If they do, they will prevail here just as they have before.
 
Aboard the Lady Luck, Lando and General Ba’tra dry their eyes.  Ba’tra cannot recognize the Errant Venture among these ships.  Lando tells him none of them are.  He opens a channel to Tendra who demands to know where he is.  He gives her some cooridinates and tells her to have Booster go there when he arrives.  Lando is doing a favor for some friends and would like a Star Destroyer’s help.  He won’t say more.
 
He tells Ba’tra that he won’t waste a chance to demonstrate his droids to a captive audience.  The Vong are still keeping any other ship away from the Byrt.  Lando tells his passengers to tighten their crash webbing.    He releases a concoction of Tibanna gas into the ion drives so the Vong will think they are damaged.  The Vong are reluctant to fire as it might hit the Byrt.
 
Then he alters course, swings around and decelerates hard before tethering the ship to the Byrt.  When the skips arrives, they send plasma balls into the Luck’s energy shields.  He shuts down the engines, nacelles and fuel feed, allowing the Tibanna gas to light up and look very much like flames. Believing their quarry to be destroyed, the two skips pull up without firing.  Lando tells his team to go.
 
The two YVH droids board the Byrt, destroying Yuuzhan Vong warriors who are harassing the passengers, threatening infants and using living beings to try to protect themselves from the droids.  The YVHs have no problems dispatching each in turn.  
 
Viqi Shesh looks terrible and feels worse. Under the influence of painkillers, she is able to give off the appearance of determination as the Vong warriors follow her down the corridor.  C 3PO holds the baby on the other side of an escape pod evacuation hatch, using Mara’s voice to tell Ben a story about what is happening.  He hopes that they aren’t discovered, because he’d rather not take another escape pod ride.  Besides, they’d just end up on Coruscant again.
 
When a YVH droid arrives, the protocol droid is relieved.  But Ben begins to cry and that attracts the attention of Viqi Shesh.  
 
Elsewhere on the Byrt, Ba’tra and a YVH droid make sure the bridge is secured.  He comms to have Calrissian told that the Lady Luck can leave.  He then informs the captain of the ship that his vessel is being commandeered.  The captain, bloodied like many of his other crew, assures him that, in this case, commandeering is the same as rescuing.
 
Lando and his droid reach the landing bay where C 3PO had been forced into some ingenuity to protect himself and the baby
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#53
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

    They call me MRS. Six!

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chapter 54:
 
Tesar doesn’t understand how they can see the Vong with the voxyn queen outside the airlock. Tenel Ka thinks there must be some kind of atmosphere there.  Vergere asks if they can think of what else might be.  Ganner is growing tired of her lack of information. 
 
Jacen reaches out for the voxyn queen after filling his mind with fear and suspicion.  Once again, as it had before, the voxyn attacks a couple of the Vong instead.  The shaper has to soothe her before the group begins anew.  That leaves only four left.
 
Jacen isn’t comfortable killing, much less tricking an animal into killing.  But he has a promise to keep to Anakin and a sister he will have to find soon.  Though Vergere has been helpful in helping them track the Vong, Ganner does not trust her.  He has kept a blaster at her back the entire time.  She will not tell them who or what she is, why she was with Elan during the attempt on the Jedi or why she provided her tears to save Mara.
 
At the airlock, the Jedi activate their holoshrouds and appear as Vong again.  They are on the inside rim of a huge crater.  There is no covering and the atmosphere is thick and warm.  It’s as if they are still inside the worldship.    Jacen still cannot sense the dovin basals but he can tell by looking that they are in distress.  There is something here – age, disease, fatigue – something that’s causing the Vong to abandon it.
 
Nom Anor and his group are approaching the crashed remains of the shuttle Jaina stole.  Vergere wonders if Jacen will destroy the voxyn or use the opportunity to save his sister.  He may not need to decide.  The longblaster cuts down a warrior.  Tekli can’t understand why the frigate doesn’t just destroy the shuttle.  Vergere suggests there’s something in it they want alive.  
 
Jacen understands she means Jaina.  Vergere adds that they want him, too.  Tsavong Lah has promised a pair of Jedi twins to Yun-Yammka for the fall of Coruscant.  If she’s dead, Nom Anor will answer for it.  Jacen could sense her and spare Anor the trouble.  After all, don’t Jedi twins have a special bond?  Jacen tells her that she shouldn’t place too much trust in bar stories.
 
Tesar admits they only have two or three shots left on the mini-cannon.  They will have to destroy the queen now.  Vergere doubts they have time to do that and save the others.  Jacen has a plan which he explains to the others.  When they’re done, Vergere can either come with them or stay.  They will watch her until then.
 
She reveals who they will find aboard the frigate.  Tesar will keep that in mind, as well as the fact that all this comes from her.  He sneaks out over the basin rim.  Jacen fills his mind with memories of the Shadow Academy and how helpless he felt.  He reaches out to the voxyn so she will feel the same.  
 
She screaches and runs off, cutting one warrior in two when it gets in her way.  The shaper rushes after her.  Jacen sends the urge to distrust.  She whirls around, spits acid and hits one of the other escorts when the shaper jumps out of the way.  
 
Jacen grabs his lightsaber and tells the others he has to concentrate on the voxyn and not on the battle meld.  Tenel Ka moves to kiss him, but Vergere gets in the way, telling him to hurry.  He rolls his eyes, grins at Tenel Ka and descends the rim in two jumps.  He lands behind the last escorts, hoping to stun him rather than kill him.  He reaches out to pull off the other’s helmet and realizes his mistake when the warrior spins around.  Jacen ignites his lightsaber, cuts off the forearm and is then forced to kill his attacker.  His comlink sounds with Zekk’s voice, asking if that’s Jacen.  Jacen asks what their condition is.  Zekk reports that there are a few injuries, but they have Lowbacca and Anakin’s body.  Jaina is there, but there’s something he’s not saying.  Jacen decides just to be happy she’s alive.  
 
The ramp guards on the frigate are too tempted at the presence of a Jedi to be vigilant. Three of them race toward him, leaving only one behind.  Tesar creeps around to pounce on the remaining one.  
 
As Jacen goes after the shaper and voyxn, the minicannon kills two of his pursuers.  Tesar should be boarding the frigate with the others behind him.  He tries to use the Force to calm the queen, but the plasma balls and lasers are making it difficult.  He throws a thermal detonator bolstered by the Force at her.  She whirls away, knocking the shaper to the side and races toward Jacen.  
 
Acid spitting at him, he has to dodge and then finds himself partially blinded when the detonator goes off.  Tenel Ka tells him they’ve secured the freighter but they have a problem.  The communications officer was in contact with the spaceport. Vergere decided she didn’t want to be atomized and left.  
 
They think she’s following Jacen.
 
Jacen urges them to get to the shuttle for now.  He goes after the queen again, slashing at her with his lightsaber.  A razor bug comes at him.  He zaps it out of existence, not knowing where it had come from.  The stolen frigate is moving now, Nom Anor and the other warriors staring at it.  Others are creeping toward Jacen.  
 
He is forced to cut into the shaper when the fellow launches himself at Jacen.  The queen is resolved to stay alive.  Jacen doesn’t want to kill her.  She may realize that.
 
He pulls his remaining detonator off and is surprised when the queen snaps at his head, only to grab his shoulder.  He’s pushed off his seat.  Flinging himself to the other side, he follows with a jump, coming down on his heels.  
 
Jacen avoids a spat of brown mucus, then finds himself separated from the queen by a large pool of her acid.  Suddenly, a thermal detonator falls down to him.  Vergere asks if that’s important; she saw him drop it.
 
The queen doesn’t know that he cannot set the fuse.  He goes after her, using her fear of the small silver sphere, jumping on her, stabbing her with his lightsaber as she stabs him with her stinger.
 
He collapses as she falls over the edge of the convergence.  Someone lifts his arm. He hears a voice calling his name.  Then another voice responding that they should save themselves because they cannot help Jacen now.  The first voice demands to speak to her brother.
 
A hand grabbed his lightsaber and Anakin’s.  He is told that he won his battles and must pay for them now. Remembering the torture aboard the Exquisite Death, he calms his body and smiles.  At least the Jedi are safe.  His own pain means nothing.
 
Vergere tells him that it will.
 
He sees her crying.  She admits she was crying for him.
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#54
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

    They call me MRS. Six!

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chapter 55:
 
Han never thought they’d live to see the end of the world.  They are in the open cannon turret on top of Fey’lya’s office.  General Rieekan orders open fire.  Han fires the trigger which brings down the first drop ship.  
 
They do what they can to hit others.  Borsk Fey’lya arrives with news of a comm. message for Leia.  Luke Skywalker appears to be trapped on the planet at the Western Sea.  His guards will take over for Leia and Han. 
 
Leia notices neither moves out of her way like other soldiers do for a former Chief of State.  Realizing the problem when she senses nothing through the Force, she cuts through one with her lightsaber while Han blasts the other. Fey’lya cannot believe that two Yuuzhan Vong were in his office.
 
She pushes him and Han out of the door and into a lift where they find General Tomas in the Chief of State’s office.  She tries to comm. Luke at the same time to tell him they’ll get him when the containment fluid is recharged.  Tomas tells her it has been and that he told Fey’lya that a while ago.  Fey’lya admits that the Solos were needed in the cannon turret.
 
Leia can’t argue with that.  Hoping Luke can hear her, she tells him she’s coming.  Tomas is angered when he hears about the infiltrators, but with chaos reigning now, all of the guards might be imposters.  Leia tells Fey’lya that it’s time to destroy the data towers.
 
Fey’lya accuses her of deserting him like the others.  She assures him she’s not.  But it’s time to do this.  He finally agrees and gives the order to Tomas, then tells him to evacuate with everyone else.  Fey’lya is staying behind.  
 
Leia reminds him he cannot do anything here now.  Fey’lya doubts he can do anything anywhere else either. No one will follow him after losing Coruscant.  He will go down in history for this.  She knows he’s right.
 
But he can serve in other ways.  Fey’lya reminds her that there is nothing else for him.
 
Having taken refuge with some of Coruscant military forces, Luke and Mara wait for their family.  R2 begins to tweet excitedly.  When Luke approaches, he’s given a printout from Lando messaging that he’s handled the Ben situation.
 
Borsk Fey’lya sits in his office almost admiring Tsavong Lah for the way he plays the military.  He also hates him for it.  The Vong are robbing him of a lifetime of accumulating power and are consigning him to being remembered as the Chief of State who lost Coruscant.  
 
He takes a drink of wine, goes to his desk, keys a code in his bottom drawer and turns on a small transmitter he holds against his hears.  When it begins to beep in time to his heart, he sets it down, arms a fuse that’s attached to a proton bomb that’s big enough to destroy all the secrets in this end of the palace.
 
Enemy drop troopers are circling the palace’s burning data towers and fightint their way into the balconies.   Warriors kick down a door they could have simply opened and push their amphistaffs at his neck.  He tells them Tsavong Lah probably wants to see him.
 
But only a subordinate arrives.  Lah will not come.  He understands what Fey’lya is going to do and sends his regards that the kintan strider death gambit is the only worthy move in dejarik.  
 
From a safe distance, Lah watches the detonation that brings down the Imperial Palace, the boarding squad, many yorik coral vessels nearby, twenty airskiffs and about 25, 000 Yuuzhan Vong warriors.
 
It was wise of him not to go there, but he doubts the gods will be all that pleased he survived when he’s likely to be a Shamed One soon.  He will have to give them the Jedi twins.  Harrar’s villip tells him that Vergere’s trick worked.  They now have Jacen Solo as their prisoner.  
 
Jaina gets angry when Zekk keeps moving them away from Jacen.  Zekk argues that they won’t save him by getting themselves killed.  The arrival of a fleet puts away any thoughts of returning to the worldship. 
 
Tenel Ka advises that they flee for now.  It will be better for Jacen if the Vong do not have both twins.  Jaina doubts that Luke will be willing to risk any more Jedi just to rescue Jacen.  
 
The Falcon’s holds are filled with passengers as it flies through Coruscant’s hoverlanes.  It rolls upside down and over a bridge.  Meelwah and one of the gunners from the palace have the turrets.  They reach the planetary turbolaser battery near the Western Sea.
 
Leia reaches out to the Force and directs Han to Luke.  They will have to beat the dropship heading in that direction.
 
Mara kicks a Vong warrior in the temple with her good leg, then slashes her lightsaber across another.  Luke helps her until the charge ends.  A junior officer advises them it’s time to go down below where they can do more damage.
 
Mara wonders if they’re just luring Han and Leia here to get hurt.  Luke doubts his sister will leave without knowing for sure what will happen. Ben is safe.  That’s the important thing.
 
The Falcon launches all of its concussion missles to ward off the Vong attack and give the New Republic troops, as well as Luke and Mara time to get aboard.  He orders Luke out of the co-pilot’s chair to the belly turret.  Then tells Leia she’s done a pretty good job co-piloting.  It might be time to get her a chair that fits.
 
Danni Quee contacts them to have them break ten degrees.  Calrissian also cuts in to tell them that Tendra has the baby aboard the Errant Venture.
 
Jedi fighters help them fight off the Vong ships headed toward them before a cruiser breaks off and the skips become chaotic.  Soon, the Falcon is free to go.  Danni and Cilghal have used their GAM to jam the yammosk on that cruiser.  It’s too late for Coruscant, but there’s hope.
 
Han finds Leia in a daze.  She tells him the twins are alive, but in trouble.  He wants to go after them.  She tells him they don’t even know where to look.  There’s not enough time.  They will have to rescue themselves.
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The End
 
  • We've reached a point now where the Solos realize they can't help everyone, even their own children.  

  • This book was very difficult to read. On the one hand, it was interesting to bring in students from the Young Jedi Knights and Junior Jedi Knights series together for a big mission.  On the other, the NJO's vow to shake things up had heartbreaking consequences for our heroes, shows how even antagonists like Borsk can make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good and that, even during an existential threat, there are those in government that care only for their own limited self interests at the expense of everyone else.

 




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