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"Dark Journey": Book 10 in the New Jedi Order

chapter discussion thread

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#1
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 1:
 
On Myrkr, Harrar the priest and Khalee Lah, the warrior son of warmaster Tsavong Lah, head toward the battle.  Harrar is wary of Khalee whose father is an adherent of Yun-Harla, the trickster goddess and wonders why the young Yuuzhan Vong has been assigned to him.
 
They spot Nom Anor’s frigate leaving and Lah ponders why, if the battle is going so well, Anor is fleeing.  Harrar contacts the executor who admits that the voxyn primary and her spawn are dead and that the frigate has been commandeered by Jaina Solo, whose twin, Jacen, is a captive and whose younger brother, Anakin, has been killed.
 
Khalee Lah is offended that a ship would be desecrated by one of these Jedi, that twins exist among the Jedi, something that is the provence of the gods and that Nom Anor continually fails but never takes responsibility for those failures.  He warns Anor to stop chasing Jaina Solo.  They don’t want an infidel-tainted ship back anyway and there are rumors Jedi can communicate with each other over distances.  They cannot take the risk that the twin Jedi will be able to plot together.
 
Harrar determines that he and Khalee will retrieve Jaina Solo, though he is a bit uncomfortable with the fervor that Khalee shows Yun-Harla.
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  • Yikes, how many relatives does Tsavong Lah have anyway?

 
 


#2
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 2:
 
Jaina Solo flies the stolen Yuuzhan Vong frigate, angry over the death of one brother and the capture of another.  Of the 17 Jedi who’d started with the task force, only nine have made it onto this smaller ship.  She knows Jacen isn’t dead.  How could he be?  She and he had been part of each other since before their birth.
 
Reaching out through the Force, she can only sense a veil behind which her brother exists.  She vows to come back for him.  Tahiri is watching over Anakin’s body and Jaina can feel her anguish.  She had never realized how close her brother was to Tahiri until now. 
 
Zekk pilots the ship while Jaina sits in the gunner’s seat.  Tenel Ka points out that Zekk really isn’t the best pilot.  They have Ganner take over to Jaina as gunner while she replaces Zekk in the pilot’s seat.  It is clear the Yuuzhan Vong do not wish to destroy this ship, giving credence to the belief that they want both twins alive.
 
However, Jaina sees a haunted look in Zekk’s eyes that betrays his concern for her.  She can see an image of an angry girl launching Force lightning at her enemies.  Lowie is keeping the ship in working order while she tries to evade the coralskippers trying to disable them.
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#3
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 3:
 
Jaina has Lowie set course to Coruscant in the hopes that the New Republic will want to capture, rather than destroy them in the Yuuzhan Vong frigate.  Zekk tells her he thought he’d never see home again. 
 
Jaina won’t let him off that easily.  She knows he doesn’t trust her right now.  This is a conversation they should have all had days ago before their team fell apart quibbling over the hows and whys of their assignment.  She’s listened to her brothers debate the Force for two years and it amounted to nothing.  Anakin started to figure it out after his experiences on Yavin IV.  He learned something that the rest of them hadn’t.
 
She may have lost a brother, but the Jedi lost something that she can’t begin to define, something important that the Jedi Order lost a long time ago and was on the threshold of getting back. 
 
Zekk tells her that, at least they have each other and are going home.  Jaina doesn’t know how long they will have that if their missions are as costly as this one was.  Besides, Zekk may consider Coruscant home, but she had spent far too few of her years there to consider it the way.
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  • This chapter says that Jaina is 18 years old.  That really can’t be true because Star by Star said Jacen was 19.  Jaina has to be the same age as Jacen.  Besides, Anakin was 17 which means that both twins have to at least be 18 ½ or more.

 
 


#4
Jedi Cool

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chapter 4:
 
Kyp Durron tells his Dozen that their primary mission is to protect the ship carrying the Jedi scientists.  They will be flying in groups of four as they head to Coruscant space.  His pilots joke about the Jedi finally getting off their thumbs.  There is, of course, Anakin Solo who has shown some initiative.
 
At coruscant, they see the lights go out.  This never-sleeping city had not faded into darkness in millennia.  The Yuuzhan Vong drops ships blot out portions of the city-scape.  They try to protect Danni’s ship while dealing with coralskippers and a freighter of refugees that inadvertently lead the pursuing skips to the ship.
 
Kyp uses the Force to grab hold of the freighter to allow his X-Wings to get away, but the skip’s multiple dovin basal merge into one and fold in on the Yuuzhan Vong ship.  The freighter disappears, along with several X-Wings.  Kyp grieves and bears down on his emotions. He feels guilty for using the Force and causing death to those around him.
 
Octa and her two other pilots head off; her telling Kyp that Master Skywalker was right.  Kyp has lost pilots before, but he’d drawn a line about using the Force to cause deaths a long time ago.  Now, he’s done it again. 
 
The Millennium Falcon appears and Kyp asks if he can fly escort. 
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#5
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 4:
 
Kyp Durron tells his Dozen that their primary mission is to protect the ship carrying the Jedi scientists.  They will be flying in groups of four as they head to Coruscant space.  His pilots joke about the Jedi finally getting off their thumbs.  There is, of course, Anakin Solo who has shown some initiative.
 
At coruscant, they see the lights go out.  This never-sleeping city had not faded into darkness in millennia.  The Yuuzhan Vong drops ships blot out portions of the city-scape.  They try to protect Danni’s ship while dealing with coralskippers and a freighter of refugees that inadvertently lead the pursuing skips to the ship.
 
Kyp uses the Force to grab hold of the freighter to allow his X-Wings to get away, but the skip’s multiple dovin basal merge into one and fold in on the Yuuzhan Vong ship.  The freighter disappears, along with several X-Wings.  Kyp grieves and bears down on his emotions. He feels guilty for using the Force and causing death to those around him.
 
Octa and her two other pilots head off; her telling Kyp that Master Skywalker was right.  Kyp has lost pilots before, but he’d drawn a line about using the Force to cause deaths a long time ago.  Now, he’s done it again. 
 
The Millennium Falcon appears and Kyp asks if he can fly escort. 
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#6
Jedi Cool

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chapter 5:
 
Tekli comes to Jaina, telling her that Tahiri is sleeping now, her broken arm is set, her physical wounds patched, but her dreams are unenviable.  Jaina isn’t going to bother with sleeping, but go right into a healing trance when she has the opportunity. 
 
She senses that Tekli wants to talk about something else, though.  The young healer explains that she doesn’t think it wise to go to Coruscant, especially in an enemy ship.  They cannot communicate with the towers to verify their identities.
 
Jaina thinks that the New Republic will not give up the opportunity to take a living ship.  Tekli isn’t certain that, after the supposed defection of Elan, they will take the chance.  Jaina asks Lowie if they can change hyperspace destination without going back to sublight speed.
 
He shakes his head.
 
Jaina decides they will keep out of the main lanes when they get to the capital and program another jump someplace where they can land and send communications from a public system.
 
Lowie suggests Gallinore in the Hapes Cluster and Tenel Ka agrees.  The problem is that this jump takes them through enemy territory. They wonder how the Vong ships get through the minefield.  Lowie points out that they just go around them. 
 
They arrive at Coruscant to see fleeing transport ships, starfighters and coralskippers.  Realizing that they have arrived in the middle of a battle in an enemy ship.
 
Han reminds Leia that Kyp is fighting on the same side they are.  She may not agree with his methods but he gives as much as he requires of others.  She points out that he was certainly willing to give their daughter up for the cause, then regrets saying so.  Sernpidal was where Chewbacca died and Jaina nearly did, too. The planet seems to be a kind of interdiction field for the Solo family luck.  She apologizes for hurting him, but it still doesn’t change the fact that Kyp lied to Jaina to get her assistance.  Luke may trust him, but she thinks he’s too optimistic.
 
Leia senses Jaina nearby.  She realizes the task force has returned and come to Coruscant.  Han brings the Falcon around.  They find a Yuuzhan Vong frigate nearby that has Jaina’s telltale flying attached to it.  However, Leia doesn’t sense Jaina’s normal energy but a cool, pitiliess cloud.
 
This surprises her because Jaina has always been sensible and uncomplicated.  She may be losing another one of her children to a fate worse than death.  Leia turns on the comm. and tells the New Republic forces still in the system that the frigate is under the command of her daughter and the skips escorting it do not realize this.  She asks them to hold their fire.
 
Han can tell something is wrong.  Knowing that his daughter is the one he’s always been closest to, Leia cannot bring herself to express concerns that he really cannot understand, so she tells him that Jacen isn’t with her.  Leia can still sense him, but he’s not with Jaina.
 
Han says they’ll just have to trust them both to find their way back.  It isn’t easy to let their children go their own way, but their lives have never been easy.
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  • At one point, Han comments Luke’s not a bad gunner but he’s not Han.  No, but Luke is the guy who plugged a torpedo in the exhaust port of the Death Star!

  • Han may not fully comprehend someone falling to the Dark Side the way the Jedi do, but I doubt that he is completely ignorant of it. Didn’t he see Luke in Dark Empire?

 


#7
Jedi Cool

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chapter 6:
 
General Soontir Fel feels old and tired for the first time.  He has established a Chiss base on an inhospitable world which he hopes the Yuuzhan Vong will find just as undesirable.
 
He turns to a young Colonel and explains that the phalanx of Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo is committed to the same goals.  They responded at Garqi and fought at Ithor.  After what happened at the latter, it was wise of Imperial command to recall Admiral Pellaeon.  The colonel explains that no one could have countered the biological catastrophe that destroyed Ithor. 
 
Fel asks how successful the squadrons were in fighting off conventional tactics.  The Colonel answers that, since they were recalled, too, after Ithor, they didn’t have the opportunity to do anything else. 
 
However, the Colonel is Fel’s son, Jagged, and the Baron feels he should have done better.  He asks if they have the ability to take on the invaders.  Jag doesn’t think so.  Since the Vong have spent generations traveling between galaxies, they are unlikely to be intimidated by the Unknown Regions.  The Baron agrees, but the problem is that the Chiss and Imperial leaders do not.  They are content to believe the Vong will bypass these territories completely while on their route to the Core.
 
 Though the Chiss society as a whole pretends that their phalanx doesn’t exist, they know very well they are here because their sons and daughters are sent to train.  Jag thinks they can do more.  Fel asks if his son thinks of himself as a Chiss.
 
Jag answers that the he was raised among them, trained with them and had standards set for him by them, so it’s hard not to think that way.  His father challenges him to go out and find a way to stop the Yuuzhan Vong.  Once they have a better grasp of that, Jag will have his squadrons back and more.
 
He also passes on that they’ve gotten some intelligence from the Core that includes an exhortation by Leia Organa Solo to keep on fighting as she has not, despite the death of her youngest son Anakin.  Jag asks if the twins are alright.  His father explains that it appears that Coruscant has been captured, but has no news about the Solos.  He reminds his son that the New Republic has been polarized with dissent for years and it’s not likely to be any better now.  Jag will be flying into a contentious atmosphere.
 
The young man agrees and indicates he will take Shawnkyr Nuruodo, his second in command with him. 
 
Though Baron Fel is loathe to send his 20-year old son into an impossible fight, he knows he would never be able to keep him from it. He’s already lost a daughter and one of his sons, but he still finds it hard to send his third child to serve and probably die.
 
In lightspeed, Jaina tries to find out from Lowie where they are going. The Wookie really doesn’t know, but he can tell them that this ship is starving and they have no way to know how to feed it.  Obviously, much has changed in the few days they’ve been gone.  Tesar suggests they go to Barab One which is not on the invasion path.  Ganner adds his vote to Gallinore.  Zekk agrees because the Yuuzhan Vong haven’t targeted the Hapes Cluster yet.  In fact, Hapes is closer than Gallinore, more populated and they would be able to get back into action faster.
 
Alema Rar points out that the Hapans are likely to shot at their frigate once it appears.  There’s something like an escape pod on this ship. Zekk suggests someone go ahead of them inside the pod.  Tenel Ka assumes she will be the best person for the job, but warns them that Hapes has a history of anti-Jedi sentiment.
 
While that isn’t anything new these days, she is also concerned that the Centerpoint situation has caused some bitterness, especially since Anakin activated it and another Solo relative fired it.  There is no way of knowing how Jaina or any of the Jedi will be received.
 
Jaina decides that she with Zekk.  After all, they could be turned away flying a New Republic ship just as easily.  Getting off a sparsely-populated world like Gallinore will be difficult.  At leaset, Tenel Ka can help get them ships and supplies. 
 
Lowie does let them know that the ship can recognize each planet, asteroid or entity by its gravity.  Jaina realizes they may be able to track the escape pod that way.  If Lowie can find a way to identify another ship by its unique gravitic signature, she would be closer to finding her brother.
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  • Whatever happened to Chak Fel?  The chapter mentions that Davin and Cherith are dead, but nothing about Chak from Survivor’s Quest.

 


#8
Jedi Cool

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chapter 7:
 
Harrar contemplates Tsavong Lah’s predicatment.  The arm he had sacrificed to ensure victory at Coruscant has not adjusted well to the implant.  If it doesn’t stop progressing, the warmaster, who also happens to be Harrar’s friend and most powerful supporter, will be removed from his command.  He speculates that their destinies lie with the capture of the Jedi twins.
 
Khalee Lah appears and tells him they’ve found the stolen ship.  It was seen near Coruscant but jumped during the battle and is now between the worlds Kuat and Kashyyyk.  It is postulated that they will be headed to the Hapes Cluster. 
 
The ship was damaged during its escape from Myrkr.  Wounded and famished, it will die and even the infidels will realize it’s nearing its limits.  They will pick someplace nearby and one of their number is a member of Hapan royalty who has only one arm, refusing to replace it with a mechanical one as so many of her kind have.  Harrar considers this an unusual worthiness of a Hapan, a people discarded after the Battle of Fondor. 
 
There is no Jedi presence there because of the animosity against them.  The Peace Brigade has several eager recruits among the Hapans and have been apprised of the possible arrival of the Jedi. 
 
Lah can’t believe that Nom Anor’s years among the infidels has only produced an alliance with those of the Peace Brigade.  They talk about the ways the executor has fallen short so many times. 
 
Two humans are brought to them  Benwick Chell and his copilot, Vonce of the Peace Brigade.  Lah asks why they have joined it.  Chell answers that they want their lives and the ability to spend the credits they earn. 
 
Harrar thinks these are dubious rewards but asks what would prompt the Hapans to join forces with the Yuuzhan Vong.  Chell mentions that there isn’t much that’s really needed as Hapes has a long history of piracy.  He himself spent 15 years in the Hapan Navy before deserting after Fondor and turning to the ancestral tradition of being a pirate.
 
Lah has nothing but disdain for a deserter and is about to kill him, when Harrar has another warrior stop him.  He explains someone at Fondor would have useful information for them.  They have someone tend to Chell while Harrar asks Vonce what he knows about Jaina Solo.
 
Vonce explains they were at Coruscant after a raid and heard a transmission by Leia Organa Solo, claiming her daughter was piloting a frigate.  It is said that the mother is also a Jedi since she’s the twin sister of Luke Skwyalker.  Khalee Lah is unhappy to find another set of twins among the Jedi. 
 
They kill Vonce and fit Chell with an organism that will help him communicatd directly with them.  Harrar and Khalee note that Jaina Solo is more cunning than thought.  Harrar thinks that Yun-Harla the Trickster is sending them a lesson in an unexpected way.  They should not underestimate their enemies.  It’s hard for Harrar to contemplate the worship of a goddess he cannot trust, but likening Jaina Solo to a trickster is a little bit of heresy that he can at least be sure he can believe in.
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#9
Jedi Cool

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chapter 8:
 
The Falcon needs sophisticated repairs soon.  Leia suggests they go to the Hapes Cluster.  Teneniel Djo had told the Senate not long ago that they might open Hapes to refugees.  She knows Han isn’t excited about this, but she reminds him she made her choice long ago and she hasn’t regretted it.
 
It’s possible Jaina will go there anyway since Tenel Ka is with her. She wonders if they should ask Luke and Mara, but Han thinks they can have an opinion when they’re flying their own ship.  Mara will take off as soon as she can anyway to get her baby back from Lando. Leia tries not to envy that mother’s reunion with her son.
 
Her baby boy is gone and she cannot even honor him with a funeral.  She tells Han that he’s the only reason she’s able to go on right now. Han tells her she’s a fighter, but he knows it hurts. 
 
After some time, they encounter dovin basal mines that Han has to navigate through.  They are pulled from hyperspace twice before they enter the Hapes system.  They assume the basals are tracking devices and that the Falcon’s presence here is now known.  As is the ships that are now packed in the space lanes.  They are of all shapes and sizes, very likely refugees from Coruscant.
 
The Yuuzhan Vong have proven they do not respect refugee sites and often target them.  Hapes has no chance of holding off an attack and Queen Teneniel Djo has unwittingly made her reclusive home a target.
 
Ta’a Chume is throwing a fit to one of her aides, Trisdin, about how her daughter-in-law will be the death of them all.  He tells her that Teneniel Djo has ruled for twenty years which certainly means something.  Ta’a Chume counters that her son has been the victim of seven assassination attempts since he committed the fleet to Fondor and some of those have been ordered by members of his own family. Most are the fault of Alyssia, Ta’a Chume’s niece.  Trisdin secretly works for both.
 
He tells her that Prince Isolder has been persuaded to go off-world for the time being.  He’s on a fact-finding mission to see how troublesome the invaders really are.  He doesn’t understand why the Prince allowed his wife to open Hapes to refugees.
 
Ta’a Chume angrily reminds him that she is the queen mother and he can’t do anything about it.  Trisdin does point out that, so long as Teneniel Djo holds the throne, that is true.  Though Ta’a Chume hates her daughter-in-law, she is very protective of the office.    Trisdin laments that Ta’a Chume was not able to have daughters since.  Even the former queen mother herself is quite young.  She recognizes his ambitions and tells him that she doesn’t wish to take another royal consort. 
 
Tenel Ka is capable enough, though she favors her mother’s people.  Isolder is more traditional than he used to be and he wants his daughter to reign while her mother wishes for her to have a choice.  In fact, Teneniel Djo insisted on another child which was another blow to Isolder’s pride as the women of Dathomir treat their men like breeding stock. 
 
She doesn’t know what her son sees in this woman anymore.  Trisdin suggests they find another wife for her son that is more worthy.  Princess Leia has breeding, but she’s more of a diplomat and there would be the same kinds of problems with her as with Teneniel Djo. 
 
They need a wife who can be controlled.  Obviously, a weak woman is not worthy of the throne, but Isolder might feel more empowered with a wife much younger than he.  Ta’a Chume could serve as a mentor to her.
 
Ta’a Chume thinks this is a brilliant idea.  She has a faction at her disposal started by her mother and has always been anti-Jedi, even more so lately.  She’s growing tired at the extraordinary security needed to keep her family alive even in Hapes’s cutthroat political environment. Teneniel Djo is doing nothing to help and this Force has caused more trouble.  The shockwaves from Fondor caused her to lose her unborn child.  Ta’a Chume has allowed her time to grieve but she really considers that self-indulgent and a weakness that Hapes cannot afford.  Of course, Teneniel Djo has been better than the alternative, particularly Alyssia who would doubtless kill Ta’a Chume and her descendants. 
 
For now, she will need to find someone younger to replace her daughter-in-law.
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#10
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 9:
 
Jaina wakes up from her healing trance to find Zekk coming out of hyperspace in front of a huge collection of ships coming toward them. Jaina reminds Ganner that he needs to protect Tenel Ka no matter what.  The princess is getting into the escape pod right now.
 
Ganner provides cover fire for the pod when the Hapan pilots go after it.  Lowie comes into the cockpit with a comm. unit of one of the ships Ganner destroys and Jaina gets on it to hail the Hapans. 
 
Ta’a Chume comes on the line and assures Jaina she and her friends are welcome.  She is apprised that Tenel Ka is on the way in an escape pod.  The former queen assures Jaina that they will pick up her granddaughter and that her friends will stay at the palace instead of at the refugee camps.  Jaina is rather surprised and suspicious at how eager Ta’a Chume seems to be to have them here, but a lifetime watching her mother try to draw out answers from other diplomats doesn’t work here.
 
Jaina tells her friends that the old woman is up to something.  In the pod, Tenel Ka tries to get comfortable and is touched through the Force by her friendship with jacen.  She is happy, then the light falters and blazes in pain.  She bangs the walls of the pod, trying to reach out to him.  Then the light is gone.  She sits in darkness, silent. 
 
When the pod is pulled in, she cuts herself out to find on a ship that is controlled by the Ni’Korish, the faction begun by her great-grandmother who had helped eliminate the Jedi.  Tenel Ka heard rumors of an attempted coup against her mother.
 
She is told that her mother is still alive but won’t hold the throne for long.  Tenel Ka assures them that her mother would not abdicate the throne just to get her back and she herself would not try to buy her freedom that way.  It turns out, however, that the Yuuzhan Vong are not so picky.  They will return her to Hapes, but they want her help hunting down Jacen and Jaina Solo.  She ought to want to repay those who are responsible for destroying the Hapan fleet with Centerpoint.
 
Tenel Ka tells them what happened to the New Republic ambassador who thought he could negotiate with the Yuuzhan Vong.  She would not turn her worst enemy over to them.  They decide she will have to do then.
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#11
Jedi Cool

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chapter 10:
 
Zekk and Tahiri navigate the ship, while Jaina and Lowie huddle together.  Jaina explains that Danni Quee has found a way to override the yammosk communication which is why the coralskippers went crazy over Coruscant.  Lowie tells her he had been recruited to work on the research team so he already knows.  He had been taking apart captured ships, but really doesn’t know how Danni scrambled the yammosk.  He might be able to duplicate the results, though.
 
She tells him her plan and he laughs.  He gives her an old villip which she strokes to active and finds herself facing the image of Tsavong Lah.  He demands to know if the sacrifice has been completed.  Thinking he is speaking with Nom Anor, he reminds her that he was to be contacted when the duty was finished.  He better not be reporting another failure.
 
Jaina finds this hilarious that they are in Nom Anor’s ship and that the villip is not attuned to him specifically.  She tells him that she’s contacting him to report another failure.  Lah realizes that he’s not speaking with Anor or even another Yuuzhan Vong.  When he determines he’s speaking with Jaina Solo, he asks if she’s calling to offer herself for her brother.  She tells him that she knows he won’t let Jacen go anyway.
 
Lah explains that she should be sure of her motivations.  After all, as the lesser twin, she would be the one to fall in a sacrifice to her brother’s sword.  She understands he means they would fight each other.  She’s done that once before, when they were captives of the Shadow Academy.  Jaina comes up with an idea.
 
She says she will not fight her destiny and will come to him, but the ship is disabled.  She asks if there is some way the ship can be traced through the yammosk that controls it.  Lah tells her that Anor’s ship is independent, answering to no one, but sometimes a yammosk can pick up a stranded ship.  Jaina answers that this one is ailing.  Lah assures her that he has sent agents to oversee the sacrifice and she will be meeting them soon.
 
Jaina can only smile and wait. 
 
Lah contacts his son, Khalee, and tells him that he’s found the female.  She is pretending to surrender in the hopes of buying time to escape.  He wants Khalee to persuade the yammosk aboard the priestship to link with the frigate and accept it into its communication family.  Harrar may contact the Jedi through the frigate’s villip.
 
He is disappointed when his son seems more devoted to the gods than anything else.  Clearly, Harrar is failing.
 
Jaina flies the frigate toward Tenel Ka’s point when the villip opens up and an image introduces himself as Harrar, the priest of Yun-Harla, the Trickster goddess, who will preside over her sacrifice. 
 
She thinks Trickster is a great name for her captured ship, irritating him.  Harrar tells her that he’s attuned his ship’s yammosk to the frigate, taking control of it.  Tahiri can tell when contact has been made.  Jaina explains to her friends that Lowie has been working on the ship’s sensor.  They are receiving signals but blocking their own.  The Vong ships manipulate gravity in order to move, shield and navigate.  The sensors gather data from shifts in gravity fields that are unique to each ship.
 
Lowie has rigged mechanical parts to cause disruptions so the dovin basals don’t know that the signals it’s sending the yammosk are scrambled.  Ganner warns her that they could still be followed to Hapes.  Jaina tells him that Hapes will be attacked anyway soon and will have to make a stand.  The other can help if they want, but she’s leaving.
 
Ganner guesses she’s going after Jacen.  Zekk asks what her goal is.  She can’t expect to rescue Jacen and, if she’s not concerned for her own survival, that only leaves vengeance.  Jaina snaps to spare her the arguments.  Jedi have a responsibility to act, not just sit and have philosophical debates of the kind that brought her brothers down.
 
Everyone agrees to go with her, but Zekk, who wants to remain on Hapes or go where he’s needed.  Jaina is tempted to sway Zekk and bring them all under her control.  Instead, she pulls away, hoping he doesn’t notice that she tried to use the Force to tamper with his emotions. 
 
She steps back into the room that holds Anakin’s body.  Tekli joins her.  Jaina thanks her for cleaning him up so her mother would not see him the way he died.  She can feel Tekli’s grief and senses that it’s not just for Anakin.
 
Harrar reports that the Jedi has broken contact.  Khalee swears she will spend her last days in pain and die without honor.  Harrar is impatient, asking if he noticed she is using the name Trickster for her ship.  The Yuuzhan Vong often name ships after their pilots.
 
Khalee isn’t sure she’s that subtle.  Harrar believes that her place as a twin means something even for an infidel.  Khalee Lah warns him to put too much into these rumors of the Jedi.  The female is not even close to Yun-Harla.
 
Harrar agrees, but he still has doubts.  He has noticed that the frigate has sent no return communications.  Somehow, Jaina Solo has blocked the yammosk.  She may not be Yun-Harla, but she is certainly more than what they’ve previously thought.
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#12
Jedi Cool

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chapter 11:
 
Over Ithor, Jagged Fel searches for some remnant of life.  It looks like a Yuuzhan Vong warship.  Shawnkyr asks what he hopes to find. He tells her he came here to remind himself why the enemy must be stopped.
 
They are headed to the Hapes Cluster next.  The queen mother has opened up the world to refugees which mean that the Yuuzhan Vong will probably attack there next.  She oints out that House Nuruodo will want to here about it if it happens.
 
He knows that this powerful house, commanding the Chiss military, will influence the path taken by the Chiss.  They run into a freighter being chased by damaged coralskippers.   They chase off the Vong and tell the freighter they’ll be happy to escort them to Hapes.  The reponse is that the Blind Mynock doesn’t need help, but they do admit their navcomputer is fried and they could use the coordinates to Hapes.
 
Jag gives them the information and then decides to continue to Hapes himself to see what he can find.  He might find more pilots there to help them scout. 
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#13
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chapter 12:
 
In the newly-christened Trickster, the young Jedi move toward the Hapan vessel that is moving away from Hapes itself.  Tahiri is sure they have Tenel Ka. 
 
Jaina feels something white-hot and agonizing that is felt by all the other Jedi, too.  It’s Jacen.  The surge ends and they sit for a long time. Jaina cannot speak, knowing that they all felt something that could indicate her brother has died.  Zekk nudges her aside and takes over the pilot’s chair.  A second wave of pain hits her and she knows it’s Tenel Ka, raging in anguish over Jacen.   She wonders why she can experience no emotion of her own.
 
Jaina tells them they have to focus on Tenel Ka.  Ganner wishes they had an ion cannon to disable the controls and not the whole ship. Jaina mentions Force Lightning.  They had to have taught Zekk how to do that at the Shadow Academy. 
 
They just stare at her.
 
She has another idea.  Coaxing the dovin basal to abandon shielding, the ship jars and shudders as it’s hit by the Hapan vessel.    Then she flies the ship into the vessel, they board it and find that Tenel Ka is doing quite well on her own, her anger propelling her to defeat the pirates intent on holding her.
 
Jaina tells her to not waste energy on pirates.  Alema agrees it should be saved for the Vong.
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#14
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chapter 13:
 
Kyp Durron follows the Falcon into Hapan space through the dovin basal mines.  They land just as Kyp feels a psychic blast of power and pain that he knows is coming from Jacen Solo.  He is stunned by this connection as he’s never been that close to Jacen and really has rather thought of him as a spoiled brat.
 
He can’t imagine living through this agony firsthand.  He takes a moment to compose himself, watching Luke and Mara emerge with Leia Organa Solo who looks pale, but composed.  They are all sorrowful.
 
Kyp bows to Luke and tells the Solos that he regrets the loss of their son.  Han thanks him and explains that it’s tough outliving one’s youngest child.  Kyp is dismayed, not knowing Anakin had died coupled with his sense of loss at one who could have made a difference.
 
Han realizes that Kyp meant Jacen and asks what he knows.  Leia intercedes and explains that Kyp probably felt a surge of Jacen’s presence in the Force, then a dimming of it.  Luke is staring at his sister with grief and concern on his face.  He seems to believe, like Kyp, that Jacen is dead.  Mara warns him with her eyes to let Leia have her illusions for now. 
 
When she gets close enough to him to speak without anyone hearing, Mara explains Kyp shouldn’t have a problem shading the truth after he deceived her apprentice.  Luke’s eyes echo the same and he urges Leia to trust her instincts through the Force. She will know what has become of her children.
 
Han tries to recruit Kyp into helping him fix the Falcon, but Leia has some words for the Jedi.  Kyp follows her and she tells him that there is a real need here on Hapes that he could use to make himself useful.  Kyp doesn’t think that’s possible here.
 
He had told Jaina that their generation needs to establish a new order with a new relationship with the Force.  He had probably thought that he himself would fall into a leadership role but he now realizes that it belongs to someone else.  But there’s a place for him and he tells Leia that change comes with conflict sometimes and his role might be to be the irritant that forces the discussion.  She laughs and reminds him of the difference between a blister and a cancer.  Kyp owes his existence to Luke Skywalker and he’s done knowing to support him.
 
They are distracted by the arrival of two Chiss clawcraft.  A familiar young man appears from one that they recognize as Colonel Jagged Fel.  He explains that he and Shawnkyr are scouts for the Chiss.  He excuses himself for a moment to speak with some officials about his presence here and returns to tell Leia he’s been asked to help her daughter bring in a Yuuzhan Vong frigate analog.
 
The Hapans think this is an ambush of some kind so they want him and Shawnkyr to go.  Kyp offers to come with them.  Leia asks what he’s after this time.  He tells her that he thinks he should start repaying that debt he owes her family.
 
Considering that Kyp destroyed Carida, fell to the Dark Side, nearly killed Luke and tricked Jaina into luring Rogue Squadron into murdering Yuuzhan Vong civilians, she tells him that he might make a dent in that debt by bringing her daughter back.  He’d be better off with the Vong if he ever hurts one of her family again.
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  • First mention that Leia did not agree with Luke over how Kyp was handled after his issues in Dark Apprentice and Champions of the Force.

 
 


#15
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chapter 14:
 
They cannot separate the Vong ship from the cargo vessel without leaving the latter to the vacuum of space, so they are flying in tandem. Tenel Ka admits it’s difficult to live among the Jedi because she cannot mourn Jacen in private.
 
Zekk admits he can’t worry about Jaina without everyone knowing about it.  Tenel Ka realizes that Zekk is not just afraid for her, but of her.  She reminds him that everyone has been changed by this war.  Jaina doesn’t like what she’s become, either.  She was forced down this path at Myrkr before she had time to think about where it was leading her.  She’s dealing with her loss by taking charge, but she’s also losing her balance by detaching herself from her pain.  They do need to watch her.
 
Zekk tells her she can watch Jaina because he’s moving on.  He knows what a Dark Jedi can do.  Someone will have to stop her and he knows that it may require force.  If it does, he can’t battle Jaina.
 
Meanwhile, Jaina gets on the comm. and hails incoming ships that there are no Yuuzhan Vong aboard the frigate.  Kyp Durron responds, telling her that her parents are on Hapes and he is coming to help escort her down.  She doesn’t believe him until Jagged Fel confirms the information. 
 
They land rockily and Tahiri tries to get a docking official to get them a repulsorsled so they can take a body to his parents.  The official points out that many have the same problem.  Jaina uses the Force to try to persuade her to go find Han and Leia Solo.  The official realizes that they are talking about Anakin Solo and goes to find the repulsorcart.  She returns quickly and is followed by a landspeeder containing Jaina’s parents.
 
Leia embraces her and tells her not to worry about Jacen because he’s a survivor.  Jaina can’t believe her mother is blocking out the truth. Her father looks at her and reads the truth in her eyes and suddenly looks old.  Jaina gets another reason to hate the Yuuzhan Vong.
 
Leia sits down and touches the face of her dead son and kisses his forehead.  Han doesn’t want to believe Jacen is dead either but there must be a way to be sure.  Leia insists that Jacen is alive and she knows it.  She just can’t explain it.
 
She felt the same thing Jaina felt, but it wasn’t a winking out like with Anakin.  It was a closing down.  Jaina thinks Leia is just in denial. Several other Jedi felt it, too.  Han lectures her about starting in her mother again.  Jaina doesn’t think she should be judged by a few comments she’s made during the middle of a war. 
 
Leia remembers that she called Bail Organa a coward when he tried to convince her to stop using her position in the Senate to cover her work with the Rebellion.  Jaina is getting ready to take off.  She’s said her good-byes.
 
Han hopes Anakin didn’t judge him by his stupid remarks.  Leia assures him he doesn’t.  He asks if she’s sure about Jacen.  Leia is.  He pulls her into his arm, letting her cry and deciding that her judgment is good enough for him.
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#16
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chapter 15:
 
Jaina moves along, trying to forget the look on her father’s face and finds a public refresher to shower in.  She is escorted to Ta’a Chume who is sure that Jaina has heard enough platitudes about her brothers.
 
She asks what Jaina is planning to do about the fact that her brothers’ murderers still live.  Jaina doesn’t know.  Ta’a Chume thinks she will find the answers soon.  For now, Jaina is invited to a diplomatic dinner at the palace.   She will arrange for a gown and a hair stylist.  Jaina shrugs off looking beautiful.  It’s not required for a pilot.  Ta’a Chume points out that beauty is an asset that Jaina should learn to use, especially if she would like the support of the Hapan military to avenge Anakin and Jacen.
 
Jaina perceives that the former queen mother wants something from her.  Ta’a Chume says she only wants Jaina to keep her mind open to all possibilities.  In these strange times, Jaina may find herself in a position to accomplish things she never thought she could.  Jaina knows that the old woman has access to many of the things she will need to take the fight to the Yuuzhan Vong.  But what Ta’a Chume wants in exchange is a mystery.  Jaina looks forward to matching wits with her.  Jaina has the Force.  Light and Dark don’t matter anyway.  This is their time, their war, and the younger Jedi need to decide what to do, how to do it and how to live with it.
 
Then she gets irritated that she is quoting Kyp Durron.
 
Jagged Fel reports to Kyp’s X-Wing that the squadron is making the jump to Gallinore now.  It’s a world rich in planet life that will likely draw the Vong’s interest.  Kyp doubts the invaders much care which worlds they destroy and which ones they rebuild.  He starts to wonder what they’ll do to Coruscant, then decides he doesn’t want to know.
 
They fly out to intercept starfighters of the type that were trying to go after Jaina’s captured frigate.  Jag asks why Jaina is so angry with him.  Kyp mentions that it’s a long story and that Jag should just ask her.
 
Fel mentions that he doesn’t want to butt in on her personal matters and he suspects that Kyp is just hoping Jaina will fling her ire at him instead of Kyp.    Kyp explains that he manipulated Jaina into thinking that the Yuuzhan Vong were building superweapons when they were just building worldships. 
 
Fel notes that the Chiss consider first strikes dishonorable; however he’s not sure that they can consider this conflict the same as others when they know that the battle is inevitable. 
 
Kyp tells him that Jaina is going to be at a state dinner at the palace tonight.  If he wants to talk to her, his father’s position as a baron might get him a place at the dinner table.   He also wants to know if Jag believes in destiny.  He thinks that the people in this galaxy don’t understand the Yuuzhan Vong and never will.  The answer may come from an outsider. 
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#17
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chapter 16:
 
Tenel Ka waits for her father long enough to witness an assassination attempt on him be foiled.  The would be assassin is one of her cousins.  Although an attack on the royal family is punishable by death, that doesn’t seem to be a good enough deterrent these days.
 
Isolder walks with her and talks about how her mother has opened up Hapes to refugees.  Tenel Ka is troubled by the distance in his voice.  Her parents have had a strained relationship for some time.  She points out that homeless people need a refuge somewhere.  He agrees, but it does ensure that they will be attacked.  He’s spent time studying the information available in order to understand their enemy.
 
He wants to know what she has learned about them.  She doesn’t know how she can describe the days of captivity, the battles afterwards and leaving behind the young man she’s loved since she was a girl.  She tells him they are devoted to their religion.
 
Isolder knows that the Vong particularly venerate Yun-Harla the Trickster goddess and Yun-Yammka the Slayer.  Battle and Deceit, it seems, are their passions.  Tenel Ka mentions that Jaina annoyed the Vong by naming the captured ship Trickster.  Isolder agrees that they would consider this blasphemy.
 
His daughter is interested in knowing the emphasis on twins.  Isolder has been able to glean that twin births are unusual among the Vong. There are three mentions that he’s aware of in their history that are all omens of great events.  In each case, one twin killed the other.
 
She asks what happens if one twin dies from some other cause.  He isn’t sure but he thinks that the survivor would still be considered important.  Tenel Ka explains that Jacen Solo is dead and that the Vong know he has a twin sister.  Tahiri Veila was captured on Yavin IV and turned over to the shapers who tried to imprint memories to make her think she was one of them.  They may try to do the same thing to Jaina.  
 
Tenel Ka is further concerned because Jaina is taking a path that is risky.  She is claiming affilitation with their Trickster goddess that is going to be taken as a challenge.  She doesn’t want to know what Jaina’s destiny might be if they factor in the invaders.  Isolder reminds her that no one is born free of expectations.
 
Tenel Ka argues that she is not going to be pushed onto the throne of Hapes.  Isolder asks if she has seen her mother.  If she doesn’t take the throne, someone else will. 
 
She tells him that she is not a ruler, just a warrior.  Isoler tells her that a warrior is needed in time of war.  Her grandmother would agree. Tenel Ka hasn’t seen much of Ta’a Chume.  In fact, she’s noticed that the old woman has been quite interested in Jaina lately.
 
She remembers how her mother’s mother, Ni’Korish, was noted for her hatred of the Jedi.  Her grandmother may want to have a Jedi as an ally and may be coaxing Jaina down a dark path. 
 
At the banquet, Jagged Fel compliments Jaina and they watch Tenel Ka dance with her father.  They joke about what would happen to a man who stepped on the princess’s toes and decide to bow out of the dancing for now.  They sneak into a hall when Ta’a Chume greets them, hoping to speak with Jaina.
 
She asks if Jaina is enjoying herself.  Ta’a Chume explains that Teneniel Djo should have led the dancing but doesn’t because of her health.  She was expecting a second child when the attack at Fondor occurred and the the shock caused her to give birth prematurely. The child did not survive and Teneniel Djo has not been the same since.
 
Jaina points out that Teneniel Djo is not weak.  Experiencing pain through the Force is always possible and a Jedi has to guard against constant bombardment.  Ta’a Chume believes that she is not capable of leading anymore.  It’s time for her son to divorce her and finds a wife capable of leading during a war.
 
She knows Jaina understands this because her mother was a kind of ruler.  Surely, Jaina knows what came first in her family.  Ta’a Chume believes that marriage is a pragmatic alliance to be entered into expediently and then abandoned when it’s not valuable.  Jaina realizes that she wants her mother to marry Prince Isolder.  She will not act as an intermediary if that’s what she wants.
 
Ta’a Chume admires her directness and steers the conversation to Baron Fel’s son.  He’s a promising pilot and young man.  If Jaina is to be an effective leader, she’ll have to know enough of men to be able to assess them.
 
Afterwards, she asks Trisdin what he thinks.  He thinks she’s nudging Jaina toward Fel.  Ta’a Chume points out that Fel is like Prince Isolder was at his age.  Jaina doesn’t understand her appeal.  She has to uncover it before using it.  Baron Fel’s son could give her the experience she needs to take on a prince.  For now, Trisdin should be willing to offer advice and consolation when Fel meets his inevitable end.
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#18
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chapter 17:
 
Back in the ballroom, Jag is nowhere in sight.  Like some of the people she knows, he projects a strong presence through the Force even though he’s not a Jedi. There’s another gap in the traditional view of the Force.  It doesn’t recognize the Yuuzhan Vong or account for those with strong personalities like Jag or her father.  She wonders if light and dark are two aspects of a varied Force.
 
She is interrupted by another strong presence.  Kyp Durron is behind her.  He shuts the door behind her so they will be in the corridor alone.  He tells her he’s here to take her to her brother’s funeral.
 
This surprises her.  He has a bag with Jedi robes and her lightsaber in it.  She’s annoyed to find the disoriented guards she’d expected to find.  She can’t really be angry at Kyp for using the Jedi Mind Trick.  Uncle Luke uses it as had his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Neither of them seemed to question whether or not it’s appropriate.  Kyp is just really good at it.
 
The landspeeder takes them to a small crowd that includes the survivors of the task force.  Jag Fel is there and several others in the crowd who’d obviously been at the party. 
 
Anakin’s body is on a high stone surrounded with torches.  Tahiri steps up and tells how Anakin saved her life.  Dab, the boy Han and Leia brought with them from Coruscant, tells how he never met Anakin but looking like him saved his life and he hopes it saved his family. Kyp mentions to Jaina how Han had told him that Viqi Shesh had tried to manipulate them with a boy that looked just like Anakin. 
 
Han steps up and tells how Anakin saved his life and a bunch of people that he would have let die in a vain effort to save Chewbacca.  He hopes Anakin knows that he made the right decision at Sernpidal.
 
Kyp tells them how the deeds of heroes sends ripples through the Force and Anakin’s continues to flow outward.  While most Jedi just use the Force, Anakin embodied it.
 
When they’re done, Luke takes a torch and sets the body afire. 
 
Zekk approaches Jaina and tells her they are returning to Eclipse with Master Skywalker.  Jaina answers that she is staying behind.  She’s considering accepting Kyp’s offer to be his apprentice. 
 
After exercising and practicing her battle skills, Tenel Ka goes to her mother’s room to find Teneniel Djo sitting quietly.  Her mother looks at her leather hides and asks how long since new ones were made.  The Yuuzhan Vong have held Dathomir for a year or two now.
 
She knows Tenel Ka is troubled.  Everything now is related to the Vong.  They all know they’re coming.  The queen tells her daughter that she knows she doesn’t want to rule.  Teneniel didn’t want to either because she chose a man, not a crown.  She’s losing both because Isolder will soon find her successor.
 
She tells Tenel Ka that, in the Transitory Mists, the hidden shipyards are rebuilding the fleet lost at Fondor.  She gives Tenel Ka a holocube in the form of a gem.  It contains information important for her successor. 
 
Tenel Ka kisses her mother and walks out to the royal family’s docking bay where she finds her father and grandmother together.  Jaina is working on the Trickster, something Ta’a Chume thinks is a waste of time.  Tenel Ka and Isolder believe that understanding this ship could give them an edge in battle. Tenel Ka explains how they found a way to block the tracking mechanism.
 
However, she is concerned that Jaina is taking unnecessary risks considering the Vong’s interest in twins.  Isolder suggests he speak to her parents about it.  Ta’a Chume doubts that Jaina will listen to her own anymore than his daughter does to him.  He should speak with Jaina directly if he wants to meddle.
 
Jagged Fel appears, hoping Tenel Ka knows where Jaina is.  Ta’a Chume points dismissively at the ship.  She thinks Jaina’s also wasting her time courting a mere pilot.  Isolder points out that her mother didn’t think that way.  Ta’a Chume counters that Jaina is not her mother and is not surprised he can’t tell the difference for her pretty face.
 
Isolder insists he’s never thought of Jaina in that way.  The former queen tells him that it’s best not to.  While she’s not opposed to him finding a new wife, she doubts Jaina Solo is ready for such a challenge.  She needs guidance if she’s to lead anything.  It’s better if he finds a more experienced woman.
 
He can’t rule and he refuses to allow his mother to do so.  She reminds him that he doesn’t have much choice.  His wife doesn’t seem to be able to do so and, if his daughter won’t, then he needs to find another wife, lest their cousins decide to fill the voice and kill the rest of them to do it. 
 
Tenel Ka looks down from her perch on the ship, understanding her grandmother’s game with Jaina now.
 
Jag finds Jaina who’s in the middle of finding out where the Vong put their shower.  He tells her that he came to offer her a ship and a place in his Vanguard squadron.  She tells him she has a ship and is working on it now. 
 
When the priestship emerges at Hapes, Khalee admits they’ve lost scouting ships and a number of the traitor-slaves.  Harrar is surprised the Hapans can defend themselves so well after Fondor.  They might make worthy sacrifices after Jaina Solo is retrieved.
 
Lah notes many of them are survivors of Coruscant; others are of a reclusive species known as the Chiss, but they are too few to be taken seriously.  Harrar wonders if Lah was sent here to do penance of some kind.
 
He thinks they should learn more of the Chiss.  Lah tells him their first responsibility is to get the Jedi twin.  Harrar agrees, but urges him to grab a Chiss, too.  He is pleased when he notes new ambition in Lah’s eyes.  If he sees every infidel as a chance for glory, he won’t easily dismiss them. 
 
He is also worried that Jaina Solo may be comparable to Yun-Harla after all. 
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#19
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 chapter 18:
 
Prince Isolder heads to the refugee camp and has to remind himself how much these people have lost.  He finds the Solos sitting in a tent at a table.  Han looks very much the old spacer he ever was.  Leia has undergone a startling transformation, looking like a tired warrior. Then she recognizes Isolder and the princess/diplomat returns.
 
She thanks him for accepting them here.  He tells her how she tried to warn him about sending a fleet to Fondor.  He doesn’t want her to think he blames her for what happened there.
 
He tells them about his journey, particularly of some things he’s learned that could affect their family.  First, it appears that twins are a very important omen to the Yuuzhan Vong.  Inevitably, one twin battles the other in Vong history and the winner becomes a significant person in a major event.  Since Tsaving Lah had ill-intentions for Jacen, Isolder thinks the warmaster will now turn to Jaina.  Leia assures him that Jacen is still alive.  Han tells the prince that he realizes there are rumors that Jacen has died but his mother feels he is not.
 
Leia adds, though, that she understands Isolder’s point.  A twin sacrifice might be attractive to the Yuuzhan Vong.  The prince goes on to tell them what Tenel Ka told him about Jaina’s mocking attempt to affiliate herself with the goddess Yun-Harla the Trickster. 
 
Leia agrees to speak with Jaina about her impulsiveness.  She does not intent to argue, but to talk about her plans and perhaps refocus them.  Han decides that he’ll let her and Isolder deal with that problem and goes back to the Falcon.
 
At the palace, Leia is led to Teneniel Djo whom she almost doesn’t recognize.  She had once been a blunt young woman with the ability to use the Force.  The woman now looks unhealthy and thin, her abilities weakened to almost nothing.  Leia suspects that the constant backbiting of the Hapan court must have taken its toll on her over the years and the loss of her unborn child became the final blow. Teneniel assumes Leia has been chosen to replace her and tells her that Tenel Ka has the ring.
 
Leia tries to engage her in conversation but fails.  Leaving the queen’s chambers, she is approached by Trisdin Gheer who has been sent to take her to Ta’a Chume.  The former queen mother notes her kindness in visiting Teneniel Djo who doesn’t seem to bear her burdens as well as Leia does.  She expresses condolences on the loss of Leia’s sons.
 
She wishes Teneniel Djo had been able to pass on the importance of duty to Tenel Ka as Leia has to Jaina.  Ta’a Chume asks if she is aware of Jaina’s future plans.  Leia assumes she will continue her piloting and wonders why Ta’a Chume is so interested in Jaina.
 
The woman explains that, since the loss of her oldest son, she has only Isolder who is deeply involved in this war.  It’s difficult to watch one’s children go off to war.  Leia reminds her that neither of their children are young anymore.  Ta’a Chume muses that maturity takes longer for men than for women which is why no woman should marry a man her own age.  Leia herself should know that as her own husband is many years older.  Ta’a Chume does warn Leia to be careful because there was an attempt on Isolder’s life yesterday on the palace grounds.
 
She finds Jaina working on the ship.  Leia passes on some of Isolder’s concerns.  Jaina reminds her that she isn’t in any more danger now than any other Jedi is.  She’s more concerned about her mother.  Leia admits that she wasn’t well after Anakin’s death, but Han was there for her and she’s doing better.  She’s upset because she cannot sense Jaina through the Force.  Jaina admits she’s been shielding herself lately because of some of the things she experienced.  She’d rather not share them.
 
In the meantime, she’s working to find out anything she can about the blocking device Danni Quee was able to use.  The yammosk communicates mind to mind, but the scrambler makes it difficult for it to think.  It’s a small comm. unit affixed to a projectile weapon and embedded into the hull of the yammosk’s ship.  Danni’s team has prepped many of them. 
 
Jaina explains how she was able to block the tracking ability of this ship.  The Vong ships communicate with their pilots who communicate with commanders via villip.  The yammosk coordinates everything and tracks ships by their gravitisc signatures.  Their whole space technology is based on the manipulation of gravity.  The gravitic signatures are like fingerprints, Jaina believes.
 
It’s dangerous but it could be useful.  They can block yammosk signals now, but they might be able to send them misinformation in the future.  Leia recognizes that this is where the Trickster comes in   Jaina admits she’s still working on how to manipulate that role.  After confirming with her mother that she wasn’t serious about training under Kyp Durron, she goes back to working on the ship.
 
Leia leaves and Jag shows up to tell her that he has been told she will be training with Kyp Durron and assumes she will be joining Vanguard Squadron since Kyp flies with them.  She tells him that he’s been misinformed and to watch out for Kyp who doesn’t do anything that doesn’t suit him.
 
Jag is tired of being in the middle of this battle between her and Kyp and storms off.  Lowie chastises her.  Jaina admits she has nothing against him.  Lowie had been told by Chewbacca that humans tend to make everything more difficult than it has to be.
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#20
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chapter 19:
 
Jaina and Lowbacca finally get the villip to attune to Jaina’s image.  It makes her look almost sinister.  She tells him to pack and get some sleep.  They’ll be leaving early tomorrow on an artificial ship complete with all the abominations they can put on it.
 
Jaina cleans herself and changes into a Hapan gown, knowing that Ta’a Chume might appreciate her taking the older woman’s advice, especially since Jaina needs a favor.  She knows the former queen is up to something when she is taken directly to her.
 
She asks Ta’a Chume if it might be possible to question a couple of the pirates who were picked up in the system.  She explains that her uncle and Jacen were traveling together when they came across a Vong camp of slaves made up of many species.  The slaves were implanted with a mind-control device that ate away their personalities.  Jacen was captured and implanted, but Luke cut the creature out before it could progress. 
 
By the time the Vong got to Yavin IV, the slave implants were less invasive.  She believes the implants are all versions of the same creature that can be modified.  She thinks she can modify them, too.  It’s her belief that the pirates have been given some kind of implant and she’d like to have them removed and modified.
 
While it’s possible that the Vong could perceive changes made to the devices, Jaina does consider that Anakin wasn’t discovered when he was posing as a slave on Yavin IV. 
 
She takes a moment to pull Trisdin back into the room where it is obvious he had been listening at the door.  She has used the Force to alter his memory so he cannot remember what he overheard.  Ta’a Chume sends him off, leaving the door ajar.  She points out how useful these skills would be to a queen.
 
Jaina would also like the help of someone on Gallinore to help her make sense of Vong technology.  Since some of that world’s creatures are bioengineered, she is hoping that the procedures are close to Vong shaping. 
 
Ta’a Chume promises the ship and the letters that will allow her to proceed with the trip.  Jaina doesn’t think Tenel Ka will approve of the mission or her methods, but she thinks she knows of someone who can go with her.  She’s just not sure she trusts him.
 
Trisdin helps the three pirates escape, who repay him by killing him, and two get to E-Wings and take off, but the third finds his movements slowed.  The hatch opens, man stands there and asks his companion if this is the one she wanted.  Fingers probe the neck and pull the bit of coral out of his neck.  The young woman answers that he’ll do.  The pirate succumbs to blackness.
 
Ta’a Chume, spurred by Jaina’s revelation of Trisdin, learns that the courtier is a spy of Alyssia.  He had been manipulated into believing the pirates were assassins so he released them, dying as the traitor he was.  Now that Jaina is away from Hapes, she decides to handle a different problem involving Han Solo’s refusal to allow the princess to marry into the Hapan Royal Family.
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  • The incident Jaina describes with Luke and Jacen was on Belkadan and that wasn’t a few months ago, it was almost two years ago, at least!

 
 


#21
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 20:
 
Jagged Fel has spent years learning military tactics and problem-solving skills.  He cannot figure out Jaina Solo, though.  She’s left the planet, taking Kyp Durron with her, without even requesting a leave of absence.  Jag heads to the refugee camp, hoping to meet Han Solo and see if he can gain some insight into the man’s daughter.
 
He arrives in the middle of a brawl between Solo and a couple of Hapans. Jag helps him out, but it ends with a wound to Solo’s chest and a thin crack in his skull.  Leia arrives and asks for any information Jag can provide.  Fel explains what he stumbled onto and notes a pile of treasures in the corner.  Leia’s reaction leads him to believe this was not a robbery attempt.  Leia tells him that they are Hapan dowry presents.  Isolder had presented her with huge gifts two decades ago when he was courting her.
 
Obviously, they came to make an offer of marriage to Leia and found Han here instead.  A medical transport arrives, although she is not certain she should trust the Hapans.  She and Jag discuss how this could have been an assassination attempt in the guise of provoking Han to a fight.  She knows that Ta’a Chume does not approve of Teneniel Djo and has been intimating that she considers Leia a suitable replacement.  It’s possible this attack was intended to get Han out of the way.
 
This is a difficult situation that she doesn’t want to broach and put the refugees at risk.  She wonders if Jaina could help her understand how to proceed better.  Jag tells her Jaina left this morning for Gallinore.  Leia thinks she should take Han offworld instead and asks Jag to go to the Millennium Falcon, ask for Zekk and have him get the ship ready to fly.  He is to round up any other Jedi who haven’t left yet.
 
Jag promises to let Jaina know what happened to her father and that they’ve left to join Luke Skywalker.  She also wants him to tell Jaina that she trusts her to find her way back.
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#22
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 21:
 
Jaina, Tenel Ka, Kyp and Lowie land on Gallinore.  Kyp isn’t happy to learn that Jaina didn’t clear the departure with Colonel Fel.  She rants about how Kyp is a Jedi Master and doesn’t need Fel’s permission to leave.
 
She is surprised he can stop her rant quickly and asks if that’s one of the skills he was offering to teach her.  Kyp asks if she’s considering his offer.  She isn’t sure the job was ever open.
 
He admits that he had extended it to through her off.  She appreciates his honesty, even though she doesn’t like being manipulated.  For now, he needs to distance himself from this adventure.  He reminds her that she could have taken Fel with her if she wanted good reputations.  Jaina doesn’t think Jag would want to sully himself assocating with a rebel mechanic.
 
Kyp has to admit it’s probably true.  He and Jaina have more in common than they probably will admit.  While Jedi are willing to risk their lives, he and Jaina are willing to risk more.  She confirms that you can’t fix a ship without getting your hands dirty.
 
He had hoped Anakin would be the first of a new leadership among the Jedi, but Jaina also has that confidence that other Jedi follow. 
 
The group heads to the research facility looking for anything that might provide a link between technology they understand and the secrets of Trickster.
 
Jaina asks a technician to speak with someone named Sinsor Khal.  She is taken, under armed escort, to a large door and left there.  Jaina opens the door, steps in and it slams shut behind her.  The room is crowded with equipment in disarray.  Jaina looks around, leaves the room and heads back to the ship where she describes the situation to Kyp, giving him a proposal.  If he wants her to be his apprentice, it starts here.
 
Kyp thinks she has a high opinion of her value and that no one can ever know about this. 
 
Two hours later, Jaina waits with Lowbacca who shakes head and studies the terminal as though he were just looking at it.  He has forgotten erasing all evidence that Jaina had been gone.
 
Jaina turns to the same technician and asks to speak with Sinsor Khal.  Thanks to Kyp, she doesn’t remember being asked this before. Jaina is, once again, escorted under guard to the door. Jaina lets herself in and a tall man greets her.  He assures her the subject is ready. 
 
The captured pirate is strapped down on a table.  Khal tells her that they are running tests on the small coral device, finding spawn in the bloodstream that are subtly different from the parent organism.  They may be able to alter one of these creatures.  He tells her to come back the next day.
 
It’s apparent that Khal is under confinement, likely due to his disregard for his patients’ well being. 
 
She consideres how the Vong creatures are not affected by the Force, but some of them, like the lambent crystal in Anakin’s lightsaber, communicate telepathically, sometimes with Force-sensitive individuals.  This is not what she has known about the Force.  She feels she’s on the verge of a new understanding.
 
That evening, she, Tenel Ka and Lowie hike a trail to see the flight of the firedrakes.  Tenel Ka points out the short flashes of the hunting creatures are a means of communications.  Jaina gets a danger sense when several firedrakes attack them.  The three Jedi fight them off. Tenel Ka has never heard of this kind of behavior.  The firedrakes hunt in packs and are said to be clever, but she didn’t think them capable of an ambush.
 
Jaina explains that underestimating the enemy is a mistake during battle.  Jedi don’t expect to be outwitted by bugs.  Yuuzhan Vong don’t expect to be outwitted by infidels either.
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  • Okay, it appears that Jaina and Kyp have been modifying memories so there won’t be constant records or memories of her visiting this rogue scientist Sinsor Khal….  Apparently, Jaina has visited him regularly and set this experimentation up.

 
 
 


#23
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 22:
 
Ben Skywalker takes the moment to punch his Uncle Han in the nose.  Luke would like to know what’s going on with the Hapans, especially as Han looks like he fought a Wampa.  Leia advises that Han doesn’t remember much about the fight, but she is guessing that Ta’a Chume is hoping Leia will reconsider marrying Isolder and wanted to get Han out of the way. 
 
Han doesn’t deny he threw the first punch, but he only remembers bits and pieces.  There’s something important that he can’t quite grab onto yet. 
 
Jaina returns to Hapes two days later with Sinsor Khal’s discoveries.  She and Lowie start working on the escape pod first.  She fits one of the altered implants into the pod’s dovin basal, hoping it alters the gravitic signature.
 
The next step is to find a way to implant other Vong ships.  For that, they will need ships and pilots willing to volunteer for that unpleasant mission.   That’s why they need Kyp Durron.
 
Kyp watches the Hapan pirate in a bacta tank where he will be repaired of all injuries but his lost memory.  He and Jaina had broken many laws to do this, but he knows she’s in trouble.  She had followed his lead and wiped inconvenient knowledge from the Gallinore scientists and Lowbacca.  However, she’d also watched this man be tested into a state of near death.
 
She argued that the end result was more important than the path to the point where even he began to wonder if there are boundaries after all.  He wants to defeat the Vong just like she does, but he doesn’t know how far he should let her go.  Or if he is able to stop her if he must.
 
Jaina offers her condolences to Ta’a Chume over the loss of Trisdin.  The former queen mentions that she was right about him.  He was inspired by a rumor that the imprisoned pirates could serve his interests and those of his patron, Alyssia.  It wasn’t intended that he actually free them, but he ended up being murdered by them.  Just as well as he would have been tried and executed for treason anyway.  This could neutralize Alyssia or it might not.  If it doesn’t, she would like Jaina’s help.
 
When Jaina asks about Sinsor Khal, Ta’a Chume explains that he was a respected scientist who achieved his expertise by performing highly illegal experiments.  Men like him have foresight.  The actions deemed criminal today will result in achievements that will be praised tomorrow.  These types of people should be encouraged and kept away from judgmental eyes.  For most of those shut away, having a well-funded lab and the freedom to work is not a punishment.  And, after all, the Yuuzhan Vong have to be dealt with.
 
Jaina has the next step of her plan ready.  Ta’a Chume approves as it will will not only avenge her brothers but strengthen Hapes. 
 
On the way out, Jaina runs into Tenel Ka who notes the amount of time her friend spends with her grandmother.  She reminds Jaina that she is a good enough Jedi to sense that Ta’a Chume’s motives are not pure. 
 
Jaina points out that her grandmother wants to fight for Hapes.  Tenel Ka should know that the Vong cannot be fought with traditional Jedi methods.  It’s important to understand the enemy.  Tenel Ka thinks it’s dangerous to understand the enemy too much, lest one be changed by it. 
 
Jaina believes that, by the time the war is over, no one will be the same again, especially the Jedi.
 
Harrar speaks with Khalee Lah over the inability to find the missing frigate.  Lah tells him they’ve recovered two of the humans who were captured by the Hapans, claiming to have escaped.  Harrar reminds him that the priestess Elan also claimed to be a defector.  It’s possible this is a trick.
 
The pirates are brought in for their story which is long-winded, self-serving and tells Harrar nothing except that they were bested by a one-armed female.  They are both killed and their implants removed. 
 
Then he orders a course set for Hapes so the Jedi will come to them.
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#24
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 23:
 
Jaina brushes off taking Kyp from Jag who answers that he’s brought a message from her mother.  He explains the attack on Han and the decision to leave Hapes.  They are rejoining Luke Skywalker. 
 
Jaina thinks the whole thing was a misunderstanding and she will speak with Ta’a Chume about it.  Jag thinks she might want to reconsider because he doesn’t trust the woman and doesn’t think Jaina should either.  He feels bad when he notes Tenel Ka nearby and follows her when she leaves in a huff.
 
He starts to apologize, but Tenel Ka asks him to walk with her instead.  She explains that she had hoped Jag would have more influence on her than Tenel Ka has been able to have.  Jaina has been difficult lately and she is also concerned about her grandmother’s influence.
 
She gives him a brief summary of her grandmother’s ruthlessness in the past and warns him not to take her lightly.  Jaina likely doesn’t see that.  Jag doesn’t understand why Ta’a Chume might order an attack on Han Solo on her son’s behalf.  Tenel Ka takes him to her mother’s room and introduces them. 
 
Teneniel Djo is silent, barely acknowledging them as Tenel Ka talks about the refugees, the imminent Vong attack and the new fleet. Nothing seems to bother the queen.  Tenel Ka explains that this is a woman who is supposed to be leading her people.  This is why her grandmother wants a replacement.   But Ta’a Chume will never really give up the throne.  She is probably hoping to rule through a younger and more malleable queen.  Prince Isolder’s wife, whoever she is, will rule. 
 
Jaina, deciding that Hapes doesn’t have the experimental technicians that she needs, tells Lowie that they are going to Kashyyyk.  Since her father doesn’t seem willing to claim the life debt Chewbacca’s family owes them, Jaina will.  Lowie knows that he is being put in a situation that will require him to honor the life debt and put some of his family in danger.
 
In space, Kyp waits and watches two Hapan ships head toward the coordinates of a minor hyperspace jump before following them.  He finds himself int the middle of a fight with several coralskippers surrounding the Hapan ships.
 
He closes in on one and notices two of the ships are veering off erratically. He reports to Jaina that the implant is causing too much confusion.  He destroys one with a proton torpedo before he’s contacted by one of the pilots whom he recognizes as one of Fel’s Hapan recruits. 
 
Kyp realizes that these are scouts sent by Fel, but are sacrifices.  He tells them to fall back and he’ll cover them.  One makes it back alive. When Kyp lands, he sends out a summons for Jaina who is already right there.  She tells him that the tracking data is getting better each time. 
 
He is furious that she is sending up two ships at a time and risking their lives for this venture.  He is also unhappy that the pilots up there think he authorized this mission.  Jaina points out that he didn’t mind using her name and influence when it suited him.
 
Ta’a Chume arrives and tells him it’s the mark of a good leader to make hard decisions.  She is leaving for a couple of days and will speak to Jaina when she returns.
 
Kyp pulls Jaina aside and tells her she won’t do anything without his authorization.  She explains how they learned to isolate the pattern of the gravitic signature of the captured ship.  They are disrupting other ships using the coral implants, but they want to get them so confused that they lose contact with the yammosk completely.
 
Lowbacca has been working on a repulsor that could overlay another ship’s signature and lure them into traps.  The Vong are looking for Trickster.  They are going to find several of their own ships and destroy them, thinking each is the ship they’re looking for.
 
Even Kyp realizes what a good idea this is.
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#25
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chapter 24:
 
Ta’a Chume leads her son down a row of Wookiee technicans working on metal parts.  She shows him a repulsor that is etched with the symbol he recognizes as belonging to Yun-Harla, the Yuuzhan Vong Trickster goddess.
 
She explains that Jaina has developed the repulsor to confuse the gravity signature of Yuuzhan Vong ships.  Since they are actively looking for Jedi and Jaina, in particular, and since Hapes is a target, this will help them for now.  Isolder considers that it might be used in conjunction with the Hapan fleet.
 
His mother approves.  Jaina needs experienced mature guidance.  She has a natural leadership ability but she doesn’t have the authority to move her plans ahead.  Only the queen mother can authorize such a thing and they both know Teneniel Djo probably won’t.
 
Ta’a Chume urges him to replace her.  He pursued Leia once, after all; her daughter is an even better choice.  Isolder reminds her that she is the age of his own daughter.  Ta’a Chume counters that she has a military background, combat experience and the willingness to listen to suggestions, on top of having experience in diplomatic circles.
 
Isolder knows that his error of judgment nearly cost the entire Hapes Consortium.  His mother is offering him a chance to redeem himself. He tells her he will consider it.
 
Jaina finds Lowbacca sitting up on an upper walkway, thinking.  She asks how many he lost today and is sorry about the high number. She assures him that she would have sent an escort if she’d thought the Wookiee ships would meet with such a strong resistance.
 
They are doing worthwhile work, though.  She’s sorry some of his friends died, but they have to move forward before the shapers realize what they know and adapt.  They are interrupted by the angry presence of Kyp who uses the Force to push guards aside.
 
He tells Jaina she’s been holding out on him by sending up Hapan pilots in ships that give off Trickster’s signal.  That’s akin to a suicide mission.
 
She argues they need more time.  They’re close to luring the Vong into a trap and diverting them in the meantime.  Kyp reminds her that being dedicated and being fanatical border a fine line that she has crossed.  She is his responsibility.  Jaina laughs and reminds him how many times he told Luke that it isn’t the Dark Side that will bring down the Jedi, but inactivity.
 
He asks when another pilot is going up.  She tells him one is going now.  He starts to storm off when she pulls her lightsaber.  Kyp doesn’t want to fight her and knows Jaina couldn’t win against him anyway.
 
She’d like to try.  If she wins, he will fly the rest of the battle under her command.  If he wins, she’s his with no more holding out.  He agrees and they battle for a time before she tells him he won’t stop the mission.  He doesn’t want to, he wants to fly it himself.  He knows the risks and doesn’t want his apprentice to make the same mistakes he did.
 
She tells him that he hasn’t beaten her yet.  Kyp knows she has a lot to live up too.  Having famous parents can be as difficult as living down a famous failure.  Jaina protests that he cannot compare their situations.  Kyp points out that they both lost brothers.  If she is looking to avenge her own brother’s death, she might remember that he tried that and ended up killing his.  If her mother’s right and Jacen’s still alive, what could Jaina’s quest for vengeance do to him?
 
She tells him he can have the mission if he wants it, but he’d better survive.
 
Jag Fel comes in on the end of the fight and tells Jaina that he wants to thank her for recruiting Hapan pilots which help scout the area and gives his own pilots less work.  He can’t help but overhear her final conversation with Durron and mentions he knows what it’s like to lose brother in combat, too.
 
She asks if he’s saying that she shouldn’t consider her loss greater than anyone else’s.  She asks why he came here just to make small talk.  Fel admits he wants to urge her not to marry Prince Isolder.  Her rank suits her now and it shouldn’t be important to her anyway.
 
Jaina thinks that’s not worth much considering he’s the son of a Corellian dirt farmer.  Jag asks why she chooses to take offense everytime he says something.  Jaina wonders why he answers questions no one bothered to ask and turns to run away.
 
She slows down when the docking bay is behind her, not knowing what his problem is.  She knows she flirted with him a little at the diplomatic dinner but that’s it.  He must have gotten the wrong idea.  Jaina tries to banish him from her thoughts because he’s a distraction, then kicks a parked repulsorsled.
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