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"Destiny's Way": Book 14 in The New Jedi Order

chapter discussion thread

26 replies to this topic

#1
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 1:
 
Sitting in Chewbacca’s co-pilot chair, Leia’s mind goes elsewhere until she gets a sense of her son.  She tells Han that Jacen is alive.  He’s with friends for right now.  Han isn’t sure he wants to believe her, but decides to go with it for now.  She tells him that everything is going to change.
 
The Falcon had been given the dubious honor of ferrying Commander Vana Dorja of the Imperial Remnant home after she’d been trapped on Coruscant during its fall.  Leia is pretty sure that the Commander having been there to negotiate some kind of commercial treaty is just a cover-up for her being a spy.  
 
After some fussiness on Threepio’s part about the protocols of diplomatic dining, the ship’s complement sits down to eat.  Dorja thanks them for the ride home which coincides with some mission of Leia’s which she can’t get much information about.  She’s surprised that Leia would not want to consider returning to the Chief of State position.  In the Empire, one’s duty takes precedence over one’s personal wishes.
 
It does illustrate, however, the difference between the New Republic and the Empire.   She wonders, for example, how the Remnant would have handled the Vong.  Han points out that the Empire would have built some superweapon, given it a grandiose name and watched it fail due to some stupid small thing no one thought about.
 
Dorja admits there’s a point there.  
 
The debate ends when proximity alarms blare.
 
The ship has been yanked out of hyperspace by dovin basals which, up to now, hadn’t extended this far out.  He has Leia take one of the quad lasers and see if Dorja can take the other.  
 
He hopes the Vong will think his ship is like any other freighter of its type.  The empty co-pilot’s chair reminds him of the people he’s lost.  It’s why he wouldn’t let Waroo assume Chewie’s life debt.  He doesn’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s death.
 
The Falcon is able to destroy several ships with concussion missles and Han’s unorthodox maneuevering, including using Anakin’s discovery of firing three shots that will allow one to bend around the dovin basals.
 
He’d nearly gotten them all when newcomers arrive.  Han is about to get angry until he is able to verify that they are Chiss clawcraft.  Jagged Fel tells him to stand down and they will handle the rest.  Han tells Threepio they will have guests for dinner.
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  • It’s a cute moment when Han describes Imperial superweapons, but I don’t think that was Dorja’s point.  The New Republic spent a lot of time after the initial Vong encounters burying its head in the sand, refusing to acknowledge the threat and generally not doing anything meaningful.  Dorja very likely meant that the Empire would have reacted sooner and more decisively.  Whether or not that would have saved the day is unknown.

 


#2
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 2:
 
Leia knows Jagged Fel, but not well.  He’s the son of an Imperial Baron who lives among the Chiss.  He’d worked with Jaina on a couple of missions.  The two have the same kind of relationship Leia’d had with Han in the beginning.  She rather hopes Jaina doesn’t resolve it the same way.  It’s hard enough having Darth Vader in the family, much less an Imperial aristocrat.
 
Jag apologizes for not recognizing the Falcon’s profile at first.  He agrees to stay for a bite or two, but will not eat a meal while his pilots are hungry, too. 
 
The squadrons that fought on Borleias have been broken up to give some experienced pilots to each one.  Jaina’s been promoted to Major; Kyp is reforming his Dozen.  Jag hasn’t seen Jaina.
 
Leia explains that they are on a mission to Bastion.  Jag surmises they are trying to get the Empire to help.  In the short term, it’s probably in the best interests of the Empire to ally with the Vong.  This gets Dorja attention, but she doesn’t quite get the argument she wants in favor of this.  While Jag admits that the Empire could just pick off planets while the New Republic continues the fight, the Vong cannot be trusted not to come after the Empire.  The New Republic will not want to rescue the Empire after it sides with their enemies.
 
And even if the Vong keep promises of non-aggression, the Empire and the Vong just can’t co-exist in the same galaxy.  They both want different things.  The Empire wants power and a return to the respect it had before;  the Vong want religious and political domination of the galaxy.  Furthermore, the Vong despise the technology that the Empire depends on.  The Empire can’t adapt to the organic technology without becoming depended on the Vong.  Eventually, it would have to peacefully come under Vong domination anyway.
 
Leia tells him that the Senate is on Mon Calamari trying to elect a Chief of State.  Pwoe may think he’s it, but his tactics on Borleias backfired.  The defenders held out longer than expected and Wolam Tesar’s holodocumentary about the battle is a sell-out across the New Republic.  Citizens are rethinking their opinion of their military forces.  When the Senate arrived on Mon Calamari, they remembered that they are in charge, not Councilor Pwoe so they invited Pwoe to join them there.  He insisted they come to him on Kuat so they declared the position of Chief of State vacant and began the process of picking someone else.  
 
Jag is working to clear the Hydian Way of Vong mines.  He offers them an escort on their way to Bastion, but they turn him down.   After being wished, “Happy Hunting”, he disembarks.
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#3
Jedi Cool

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chapter 3:
 
Fyor Rodan only has a few minutes to speak with Luke.    The Mon Calamari have given the exiled Senate a place to meet besides a hotel room.  Their numbers are slimmer now.  Some had made sure they weren’t on Coruscant during the attack; some had already been told to leave so that there would be some political leaders left; others had confiscated military resources; many others had been killed, captured or are missing.  And Viqi Shesh who had betrayed them.
 
Rodan had stayed on Coruscant until the military evacuated him at the last moment and, though he’d been with Pwoe on Borleias, he’d come to Mon Calamari when summoned.  His actions have led to speculation that he would be a good candidate for Chief of State.
 
But he’s a political opponent of the Jedi.  Luke is hoping to understand his opinion better.
 
He wants to know why Rodan told the news media that morning that the Jedi are an impediment to ending the war.  Rodan admits that it’s very clear that they are.  After all, the Vong consider them such a threat that they want all of them handed over.  Not that Rodan agrees with that.   The Vong won’t stop until they enslave every being in the galaxy and Rodan will not consider negotiating with them until they give up Coruscant and every other world they’ve seized.
 
But Luke shouldn’t be coming to him with this concern.  That’s an issue for the future Chief of State.  He dismisses Luke’s belief that it could be him.  Luke can’t understand why this rudeness.  When Rodan suggests he get press credentials with all these questions of his, Luke considers what the source of this animosity could be.
 
He gets his answer when he asks what Rodan thinks the role of the Jedi should be in this war.  Rodan wants them to do nothing.  The New Republic Defense Force is the guardian of the galaxy in his opinion. That the Jedi served in that role for the Old Republic only undercuts the problem when one considers that Darth Vader emerged from that mess.
 
And, in any event, Luke’s small number of Jedi can’t begin to match the ones that served the Old Republic.  If Luke even controls them at all.  Luke can’t help but remember that Rodan himself opposed the formation of a Jedi Council, so if the Jedi are disorganized and lack direction, that’s partly his fault.
 
Rodan is blunt when he explains that there is no Office of Protectors of the New Republic.  The New Republic has soldiers, diplomats and police officers.  The Jedi, however, seem to think they can take over those roles from the professionals whenever they want.  Sometimes the Jedi assigned to these missions are practically children.  A great many times, these missions turn violent.  Then they leave the professionals behind to clean up the mess.
 
A Jedi should join the military or the diplomatic corps if he so desires, but he should do it on the basis of any other member of that organization and be willing to do his duty like anyone else.  As Rodan sees it, the Jedi want special treatment.
 
After all, they have Luke as an example.  He started off as a starfighter pilot.  But he took off after Hoth in a starfighter that wasn’t his to do some spiritual exercises elsewhere.  When he came back, he picked up his position as if there had been no interruption before taking off again.  
 
Regular soldiers don’t get to run off for personal reasons in the middle of a war to do what they want.  Neither should Jedi.  So far as Rodan is concerned, they are just another special interest group.
 
Luke complains to Mara about how Rodan dismissed him so harshly.  Worse, he’s beginning to consider that the man might be right.
 
Meanwhile, Mara and Senator Triebakk have likely been able to convince Cal Omas to run.  He’d fought with the Rebel Alliance and is a Jedi supporter.  There are a few others, but it would seem clear that Omas should be their choice.  It might not be good for Omas to be known as the Jedi Choice, though.
 
After all, the New Republic will have to blame someone for the fall of Coruscant.  They won’t blame Fey’lya, despite his mistakes, after he martyred himself and died a hero.  If the Jedi interfere in the selection of Chief of State, they will only justify Rodan’s accusations that the Jedi wield too much influence in the government.
 
As they discuss the need to keep their Insiders group secret even from Omas, Luke suddenly gets the sense of Jacen.  He tells Mara that everything changes now.  But has no idea where the words came from.
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  • Luke considers Rodan rude when the man tells him that he thinks rumors of him being Chief of State material are premature.  I’m not sure I would call that rude.  

  • They discuss how the Old Republic hadn’t had a military.  Well, yes, it did during the Clone Wars.  It was a Clone Army, don’t they remember that?  The Jedi commanded them, yes, but it was still a military.  And don’t forget about those mysterious Judicials!

 


#4
Jedi Cool

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chapter 4:
 
Jaina is waiting at Obroa-skai where the Vong are busy translating the library into their language, no doubt hoping to find something to solidify their victory.  Shimrra is supposed to be here, so she waits.
 
This war has taught her many things: loss, helplessness, fear and her own darkness.
 
Lowbacca wonders if New Republic Intelligence has steered them wrong.  Then an alien frigate arrives.
 
The Vong force arrives, detecting in Trickster a damaged vessel that doesn’t overly concern them. Then General Farlander’s task force appears.  While preparing for the battle, Jaina is distracted by a welcoming sense from afar.  She quickly sends back her greetings and moves on.
 
Wraith Squadron sends out jamming signals that interferes with the gravity waves of the yammosk.  Then all New Republic ships focus on Shimrra’s frigate.  But the jamming maneuver doesn’t last long.  When she realizes that the Vong have countered it, she wants everyone to leave.
 
Instead General Farlander tries another maneuver that doesn’t quite work as it’s supposed to.  Dovin basals sent by the New Republic forces to attach onto Vong ships, making the others think they are enemies.
 
Still the Vong frigates move as the yammosk directs.
 
But the basals are programmed to fight off New Republic attacks, so she triggers the dovin basal decoys she’d sent out.  They begin to fire at the Vong ships, instead of the New Republic ones, but only in this attack group.  There are still other ships unaffected by this trick.  They are sending their own decoys in, but the missles aren’t reaching their targets.
 
Only Jaina’s group is able to fly undisturbed which gives her time to think. She uses the Force to find the problem.  There are two yammosks in play here.  There’s the one Shimrra probably brought with him and the one New Republic Intelligence had known about that had been seeded at Obroa-skai.  She opens a comm to Face Loran and tells him about the other one.  Once it’s been jammed, as well, the battle begins to turn to the New Republic ships. 
 
Jaina finds Trickster has been brought astern of the flagship and fires all her weapons.  The flagship is slow to respond as she’s in its shadow, but it does bring assistance from other warships in the vicinity.  Suddenly, the New Republic is helped by the arrival of several Hapan battleships.  
 
The Hapans make short work of the flagship.  Jaina is surprised that the other Vong warships take off without defending their leader to the end.  Feeling good about killing Shimrra and, perhaps, making the decisive move that could possibly end this war, Jaina is brought down when Farlander informs her that they’ve been ordered to break off the attack.  Shimrra wasn’t aboard the flagship after all.
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#5
Jedi Cool

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chapter 5:
 
While Farlander and Kartha are in conference, Madurrin encourages Jaina regarding their victory.  
 
When they’re finished, Tenel Ka wants to know whether they’ve killed Shimrra or not.  Farlander explains that New Republic Intelligence knew Shimrra was headed to Coruscant so, when they found out a Vong big shot was headed to Obroa-skai, they assumed, incorrectly, that it was him.  They ended up eliminating a Supreme Commander named Komm Karsh.  
 
Tenel Ka doesn’t consider that small fry, so she can justify to her people the victory with minimal cost to the Hapans.  She does, however, find it amusing when Farlander has to explain why they’ve been deferring to junior officer, Jaina, in order to keep up the illusion that she is the embodiment of Yun-Harla, the Trickster goddess.  
 
For now, the fleet is moving its base to Kashyyyk so they can defend the mid-rim and still be able to support the Hapans.  They have no long-term plans as they’ve gotten no instructions from Borleias.  For now, Traest Kre’fey is in charge, but, as he’s off to Bothawui for official mourning of his relative Borsk, Farlander’s been treading water until he can get orders.
 
Jaina had thought she’d made a decisive victory today; one that would focus everyone on the common cause.  Now, it seems, as if nothing has really changed.
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#6
Jedi Cool

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chapter 6:
 
Having escaped Coruscant, Jacen has used the opportunity to reach out through the Force to his relatives. He admits to Vergere that he touched his mother, possibly Luke and his sister, who seemed to be in battle.  He pulled back because he didn’t want to be a distraction for her, but second guesses himself as to whether he should not have helped her instead.
 
Vergere thinks it’s pointless to worry about what he should have done.  He makes a decision, uncoerced, and that should be it.  He has to learn to live with the consequences.
 
Jacen admits that it’s hard to do when the consequences affect his sister.  Vergere reminds him that decisions that can affect lives happen every second of every day.  He can’t expect to fret over all of those decisions, some of which he may not even know the consequences of for decades.
 
Jacen points out that, at his age, it’s hard for him to think in terms of decades. 
 
Vergere explains that she has to live with the consequences of a decision she made 50 years ago and she still doesn’t know if she made the right one.  This war and all it involves came out of that fateful choice she made on Zonama Sekot.
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#7
Jedi Cool

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chapter 7:
 
Vergere explains to Jacen how she had been sent by the Jedi Council to find out more information about a mysterious enemy approaching and to find the mysterious world of Zonama Sekot.  She found the planet first.  Having been entrusted by the Council with ingots to buy one of the planet’s unique organic ships, she began the process of bonding with the seeds.  
 
The native Ferroans were astounded when three seed-partners bonded with her.  That hadn’t happened before.  The seed-partners rejoiced in her connection with the Force;  Vergere spent two wonderful days with them, planning her ship and how she was going to fly it in search of the Far Outsiders.
 
Then they found her instead.  They appeared and began seeding the planet with their hostile biological organisms that began to reshape the planet.  The Ferroans began to panic; her ship was put on hold.  Vergere had to reveal herself as a Jedi.
 
The Ferroans believe in the Potentium:  that the Force is light only and that darkness and evil is only an illusion.  They were wary that Vergere had come to persecute them for heresy and that delay caused the invading organisms to spread further.  When they finally trusted her enough to take her to the Magister, his palace was overcome by the alien biology.  But he directed the defense and, somehow, succeeded.  The new organisms began to die.
 
But the Yuuzhan Vong then attacked with their more conventional weapons and the Magister was killed.  It was then that Vergere discovered that she could commune with Zonama Sekot itself;  the planet was alive.
 
Vergere offered to negotiate on the planet’s behalf and it consented.  She went, the seed-partners still clinging to her, with a brave pilot to parley with the newcomers.  Their commander, Zho Krazhmir, assembled an intimidating greeting party.  But what shocked Vergere most was that she could not sense them through the Force.
 
Everything she’d been taught about the Force was denied by the existence of these beings; she was so angry she wanted to obliterate them all.  Then she noticed the priestess Falung had an avian pet.  Vergere could touch that creature with the Force.  She called it to her and they danced together.  Two extremes, the planet of Zonama Sekot – a complete embodiment of the Force – and the Yuuzhan Vong with their complete lack of connection.  Could she bring them into balance?
 
The Vong were amused at first, then in awe.  She knew that they could experience other emotions besides anger.  She explained that this was done by the power of the planet which is ruled by a powerful intelligence.  The Supreme Commander became excited.
 
The Vong revere life, though they seem to dispense with it so casually.  Their worldships are deteriorating and they’d been sent to find a habitable world.  To find a living one was beyond their wildest dreams.  But they cannot conquer the world or sustain losses that would prevent them from returning to their worldships.
 
So they decided to return without further incident to inform the Supreme Overlord of their discovery.  Communing with the planet as it took the form of the late Magister, Vergere explains that it is safe for now but will have to prepare for a future attack.  
 
Though she could have resumed her studies of Zonama Sekot, she felt it was better to learn about the Yuuzhan Vong.  She asked Falung if she could stay with her “cousin”, the other avian creature, and was granted permission without even a discussion with Zho Krazhmir.  
 
She recorded a message for the Jedi she knew would follow, but has no idea if her message was received.  She destroyed her lightsaber and gave her other technological devices to the pilot.  En route back to the worldships, she occasionally performed the dance with the avian creature, but, eventually, they stopped because she did not want the Vong to know that this had been done with a power she possessed as opposed to the living planet Sekot.
 
The Supreme Commander was fitted with new leg implant for his discovery, but he didn’t take to it and died a few years later.  In the meantime, Falung instructed Vergere in the Yuuzhan Vong religion.  As Falung was a priestess of the Trickster goddess, Yun-Harla- Vergere decided to take on the features of this deceiver, who has no form, but appears in borrowed skin and garments. 
 
She hid her true nature, masking her telepathic abilities from the yammosks, meditating on Yun-Harla every day for 50 years.  She learned that the Yuuzhan Vong cannot separate their reverence for life from pain and death.  She was interrogated, but did not know what to tell them. Fearing they had resources that would reveal the truth, she pretended to be a simple teacher, ignorant of the military and technological preparedness of the Republic.  
 
Eventually, Falung died and Vergere became the familiar to her successor, Elan.  All of this has happened due to Vergere’s decision 50 years ago.  Who knows if she was right or wrong and, if she was wrong, should she have spent all that time petrified with fear to make another decision?  Can Jacen even tell her that she’s wrong?
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  • We know, of course, that Vergere’s message was received by Obi-Wan and Anakin in Rogue Planet, but they were unable to act on it.

 


#8
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 8:
 
Jacen asks what happened to Zonama Sekot.  She only knows that it left. It had hyperdrive engines and was perfectly capable of hiding itself.  Jacen thinks that this sounds more like a legend than anything real.
 
Vergere wonders why he hasn’t answered her question.  He knows she told it to him in part to distract him from his concern for his sister, but he’s still thinking about it.  If a message was sent to the Jedi Council, he’s never heard of it.  Of course, there isn’t a Jedi Council anymore and hasn’t been for decades.
 
Vergere wonders about that.  She’d expected to find thousands of Jedi welcoming her back.  Instead, there are a few dozen half-trained ones.  What happened to them all and how is it connected to the Sith grandfather, Vader, whom Vergere knew as Anakin Skywalker?
 
She is silent while he tells the story.  When he’s finished, however, she doesn’t let him think about his sister.  They are about to come out of hyperspace near a New Republic world in a Vong ship.  They are going to have to trust the Force.
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  • It’s nice to know that Jacen can tell a distraction when he hears one.

 


#9
Jedi Cool

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chapter 9:
 
On what was once Coruscant, Nom Anor watches a ceremony celebrating the joining of the Supreme Overlord’s ship and palace onto this world which is being recreated into the legendary homeworld of the Yuuzhan Vong.
 
Anor can’t help but notice an itch at the bottom of his toes.  Since this is a minor discomfort, he should be able to dismiss it, but, as if on cue, the itch gets worse.
 
Shimrra arrives with his pet, a Shamed One named Onimi.
 
In Cal Omas’ cramped quarters on Mon Calamari, Luke and Mara discuss Fyor Rodan’s speech in which he repeated the same accusations against the Jedi he had when speaking with Luke.  This will force other potential Chief of State candidates to respond.
 
Omas had pointed out the help of the Jedi during the war against Palpatine, but now people want to know what his “Jedi Program” is and he doesn’t know.
 
Luke suggests a generic promise to bring the Jedi under the control of the government and leave out the details.  The problem is that Omas needs to give details, lest he be seen as having no plan at all…which is true.
 
He asks Luke about the original Jedi Council.  Luke explains there were a dozen or so masters who oversaw an order of thousands.  When the Supreme Chancellor saw a problem that required their abilities, a Jedi Team was dispatched by the Council to resolve it.  It’s also possible the Jedi advised the Chancellor of problem areas when they saw them as well.
 
Omas points out that, with the military and diplomatic corps, the Jedi seem rather redundant now.  Luke and Mara suggest that the Jedi serve as a special investigative service to the Chancellor.  To be sent when he needs more than a diplomat but less than a Battle Cruiser.
 
Omas thnks they’re moving in the right direction, but are not quite there yet.  Fyor Rodan will accuse the Jedi of manipulating the Supreme Chancellor or of being a clandestine force used to circumvent the Constitution or both.  That’s the problem with having a representative government with multiple layers that is overseen by a critical media.  Senator Triebakk howls that he almost sympathizes with Palpatine.
 
Luke considers how the Jedi did enforce the law, but they were segregated from the people and, once Palpatine became Supreme Chancellor, he was able to isolate them enough to destroy them.  The Jedi cannot be that isolated again.
 
At the same time, he knows they cannot ask the people of the Republic to give them the benefit of the doubt when all they have to do is remember Darth Vader.
 
He suggests a bilateral Council also made up of non-Jedi members, say a representative from each branch of the government that might feel threatened by the Jedi.  With a balanced number of members, it will be difficult to accuse all of them of being puppets.
 
As they discussed the nomination process, Luke suddenly gets a touch through the Force from Jacen.  He tells Omas that Jacen is in a Vong ship heading into Mon Cal space.  They need to prevent him from being destroyed.
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  • The Jedi had been isolated from the general population for years.  It is true that Palpatine used that isolation to allow rumors of the Jedi to fester in the public, but I don’t think isolation was what caused their destruction.  

 


#10
Jedi Cool

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chapter 10:
 
As the Yuuzhan Vong make their way to Shimrra’s throne, Anor itches more than ever.  It seems to have spread across his body.  Harrar is there, but ignores him.  
 
Onimi dances around with a ditty about being shed with the skin of the enemy.  They all realize he’s wearing the rags of New Republic uniforms.  Shimrra silences the Shamed One and asks about the state of the war.
 
Tsavong Lah reiterates their victories on this world and on Borleias, as well as Nas Choka’s work in Hutt Space.  Shimrra points out that they’ve been at the cost of lives that cannot be easily replaced.  They have far more worlds to occupy than they did before.  Komm Karsh commanded their strategic reserve.
 
He orders captives to be fitted with surge corals that will allow them to receive commands from a yammosk, then commands the age of breeding be lowered and incentives given for the production of offspring.  This will help in the short term.  For now, there are to be no large offensives.
 
In the meantime, they are baffled by the technology that jamms communications with the yammosk.  Shimrra also asks about the machines used to cause their ships to fire on one another.  He is irritated that none of these machines has been captured and that his fleet has been fooled by a Yuuzhan Vong ship that broadcasts as friendly until it turns on them.  He orders recognition signals to be developed in order to root out this rogue ship.
 
Yoog Skell is called upon to give a report on the state of the infidels.  Skell explains that the New Republic government has fled to Mon Calamari, struggling to reorganize after the loss of their capital world and have launched no major offensives.  They appear to be in the process of selecting a new Chief of State.  Several names have been mentioned, but no one has yet been chosen.  
 
Several member worlds have offered to surrender or, at least, to remain neutral, but it is unclear if their representatives are officially credentialed to make terms or not. 
 
The Peace Brigade has settled on Ylesia, but they do not have uniform weapons or ships.  They are in the process of being trained.
 
Nom Anor cannot help but notice that Skell is scratching.  It appears the itch has spread.  When Shimrra asks which New Republic candidates are inclined to war or submission, Skell defers to Anor.
 
Although Fyor Rodan and Cal Omas both acted independently on occasion, Rodan is known for his opposition to the Jedi and Omas is known to support them.  The infidels value independent thinking in a way that the Yuuzhan Vong do not.  They will have to be taught better.
 
Shimrra wonders what they can teach the Jedi.  Nom Anor attempts to give him a generic proclamation of support for their extermination, but Shimrra is more thoughtful.  The Jedi managed to poison the Well of the World Brain through a so-called tamed Jedi that was supposed to sacrifice a colleague.  Instead, the tamed Jedi escaped while the other one held off an army with a weapon he wasn’t supposed to have.
 
Nom Anor makes sure Shimrra knows that Tsavong Lah was more responsible than he, but that they were all fooled by the deceptions of Vergere.  They could not have known she would betray them:  she wasn’t fully trusted and was monitored whenever she was with captive Jedi.  She led Jacen Solo into captivity and he was monitored during the Embrace of Pain, so they know his experience was genuine.  
 
He can almost feel Shimrra’s eyes on his innermost being as the Supreme Overlord questions how one being could be responsible for so much damage and wonders at the whole idea of waiting to sacrifice Jacen Solo until his twin was also in their hands.  
 
The pressure on Anor breaks into a desperate plea that it was Vergere.  Amazingly, Harrar concurs that he, Khalee La and Vergere agreed on the twin sacrifice.  There was no reason to suspect Vergere at that time.  If she was disloyal, she could have released Jacen Solo at any time or could have chosen not to participate in his torture.  Harrar has concluded that, while Vergere isn’t necessarily on their side, she’s not on the infidels’ side either.
 
It’s remarkable that she lived among them for 50 years and was never exposed.  If she were a Jedi surely the yammosk would have unmasked her. 
 
Shimrra lets his pet Onimi sing a little ditty about remaining loyal and sharing Shimrra’s throne.  Shimrra chuckles about how Onimi can only share the throne from afar.  It’s still closer than anyone else has.  Nervous laughter echoes through the chamber.  Shimrra tells his people to learn from his example and not let a pet become too trusted. 
 
Attention soon turns to Jakan, the father of Elan, the former priestess who was killed in her attempt to poison the Jedi.  He explains the new heresy developing on far off worlds among the workers and Shamed Ones who meet to revere the Jedi and reject the True Way.
 
They were probably contaminated by slaves from the New Republic.  They seem to have no leadership.  It would best to separate the slaves from their own people to limit the contamination, execute heretics and offer rewards for those who recant the heresy.
 
Yoog Skell explains that they need all the workers they can get during what is turning ou to be a long war.  He urges less drastic measures.  Separating the slaves from the others would disrupt the important work they do and there’s always the risk that they will start pointing fingers at overseers or even priests and shapers.   Shamed Ones are hated by the gods anyway.  No one cares what they think.
 
Nom Anor itches all over.  Even Onimi is scratching.  Which reminds Shimrra to asks the shapers how the shaping of this world is proceeding.   Ch’Gang Hool admits they are dealing with an alien world and there have been some problems that have popped up, such as a minor itch due to a mysterious fungus.  He assures Shimrra that any Yuuzhan Vong of the upper caste with proper discipline can overcome it.
 
Shimrra then demands to know why a high-caste shaper like Ch’Gang Hool has been scratching the entire meeting.  They cannot fool him;  the shaping of this world has been botched.  Their entire population has been infected by this fungus, including himself.  There have been other incidents of Yuuzhan Vong organics failing to conquer the biology of this world.  He orders Ch’Gang Hool taken out and executed.
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#11
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chapter 11:
 
Head of New Republic Intelligence Dif Scaur receives a transmission letting him know the experiment was a success, but that they need a larger facility and the silence of certain individuals in the know. Scaur assures they will have both.  Now he will be the Slayer.
 
On Mon Calamari, Luke knows that the return of Jacens signals a turning point; a message that may be coming from the Force.  He is sure that Jacen has a special destiny: the young man who’s always questioned his purpose as a Jedi may question this, too, and, of course, they know that special destinies can be burdens.
 
They are distracted by a drunken Phindian captain that corners two Senators newly arrived on Mon Calamari.  She’s furious that, not only did they commandeer a ship to get them off Coruscant, but they diverted Green Squadron to escort them which left the Phindian’s ship to be battered by the Yuuzhan Vong.  It’s now destined for scrap, half the Phindian’s crew is dead and so are much of the passengers they were ferrying.
 
One of the senators cautions the captain to be careful not to risk her commission.  The Phindian finds this hilarious as the commission is all she has left to be taken away.  None of them care about the oath they took.
 
Luke and Mara consider intervening, but the altercation hasn’t turned violent and they can’t help but notice that a group of officers nearby aren’t getting involved either.
 
The Phindian points out that the best thing the two senators can do is vote for a fleet appropriations bill coming up in the new session which will continue to give captains like her the ability to ferry around cowards like them.  After all, the fleet has the guns and it’s clear that the senators can’t handle anyone armed.
 
As they take off, she shouts after them that they should never try again to commandeer a fleet ship or they’ll be tossed in an escape pod and blasted into Vong space.  The officers cheer.
 
Luke can’t help but notice that one of the cheering officers is a fleet commander.
 
The New Republic fleet is hurting, low on morale, disgusted with a government that moved too slowly and self-interestedly in this war and desperately in need of a victory and a government it can respect.
 
They are approached by an officer who passes along Admiral Sovv’s invitation to lunch.
 
Admiral Sien Sovv is being blamed for the unraveling New Republic military, but has no Chief of State to submit his resignation to.  
 
When Jacen arrives, they notice his youthful fat is gone.  He is lean, his face is bearded, his eyes alert.  Clearly, his childhood is over.  Vergere is here, too.  They have her to thank for helping Jacen, as well as for healing Mara.
 
They have so many questions about her, but Vergere is holding her cards close to her.  One doesn’t live among aliens for decades without learning to keep some things secret.  But they are told she is an Old Republic Jedi who still has no allegiance to this government.
 
In Admiral Sovv’s suite are Admiral Ackbar and Winter.  Ackbar is old and struggles when he’s out of the water too long.  Winter confirms to Luke that Tycho is helping Wedge establish resistance cells and make preparations to defend Kuat.
 
Mara thanks Ackbar for the toy he sent baby Ben.  For now, the baby has been sent somewhere safe.  Winter knows it’s hard to be separated from one’s child, but the Solo children had the same experience and turned out fine.
 
After Sovv assures Jacen that his sister is fine and gives some details about the Obroa-skai adventure, he mentions that Fleet Intelligence would like to debrief both Jacen and Vergere.  
 
After they leave, Luke mentions that the fleet isn’t being too careful these days.  Sovv admits that the Vong have mastered infiltration to the New Republic’s detriment.  They cannot let Vergere go where she wishes until they know she is who she claims to be.
 
Luke isn’t sure she has any way to prove that.
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  • Luke mentions that Jacen has always questioned his role.  I’m not sure he has.  This new Jacen didn’t turn up until the beginning of this series, approximately four years ago.

  • I’m also not sure it’s been enough time to determine the effects long-term separation from their parents had on the Solo children.

 


#12
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[chapter 12:
 
Leia reminds Han that this is still the Empire to its representatives.  Having arrived at the Imperial capital of Bastion, the Millennium Falcon is escorted to the docking bay.  Vana Dorja took off too quickly for them to notice and they have no doubt she’s giving her full report to Admiral Pellaeon now.
 
When they are taken to Pellaeon, he starts off by letting them know that New Republic Fleet Command sent him a message to relay to them:  Jacen has arrived at Mon Calamari.
He offers them use of a comm channel to send him a message if they like.
 
Afterwards, they walk in his garden.  Pellaeon tells her the Empire is not ruled by committee.  He’ll tell the Moff Council what he feels they need to know.  
 
His garden is an allegory for the Empire, they find.  He culls the weak early and grows them in rows so each gets its own fair share of sunlight.  Han points out that this is not how plants naturally grow.  Pellaeon mentions that, in nature, plants are culled more mercilessly than in the artificial environment here.
 
Leia prefers a balance that Pellaeon identifies as a Jedi philosophy.  The flower she so admires lost its will in a battle with the gardener.  Clearly, political discussions aren’t going to get them anywhere, so she comes ot the point.  They would like the Empire’s maps of routes through the Deep Core. 
 
This can’t be as valuable as Pellaeon thinks since the Empire has no more bases there.  They will be useful to the New Republic which will also keep the Yuuzhan Vong tied up long enough to keep them from looking at Bastion as a target.
 
Pellaeon isn’t concerned about his capital being in danger.  Privately, Leia considers him naïve, but does mention she used to feel the same way about Coruscant.  Nevertheless, this is what negotiation is for.  The Moff Council will something valuable in exchange.  Leia offers him all of their information about the Yuuzhan Vong.
 
Pellaeon thinks this will be acceptable to the Council.  After dinner, she hopes to convince him to ally with the New Republic.  That he doesn’t think will be approved.  The Empire doesn’t really benefit from an alliance with a government that’s one in name only.  The New Republic is a debacle right now.  The Moff Council will argue that it can only drag the Empire down with it.
 
If they could offer the Moff Council something concrete, such as allowing the Empire to keep worlds it takes from the Yuuzhan Vong, that might be approved.  The refugees from those worlds would be welcome to come back as Imperial citizens. They would be looked after better than they were under the New Republic.  Leia can’t help thinking of the ones that would be culled and pruned.
 
As it is, she cannot make such an offer without conferring with the New Republic government.  If it still exists by the time she gets back.
 
After the ceremony, Nom Anor discusses what they just experience with Yoog Skell.  Skell verifies that Shimrra does have some kind of mental ability in the manner that Anor experienced.  It’s important not to allow so many flaws to come to his attention.  The only advice Skell can offer Anor is not to make any more mistakes.
 
Grand Admiral Pellaeon gave Leia and Han the maps, plus a hyperspace comm unit to replace the one the Vong had shot off the Falcon.  Leia isn’t sure they should trust that comm unit, but Han mentions they’ll only be transmitting information the Empire already has.  
 
Leia has determined she’d really rather not have the Empire involved in this war, despite the arsenal it would bring with it.  The Empire is only willing to ally with the New Republic when the latter starts winning.  At that point, the New Republic won’t need allies anyway.  The only reason Pellaeon is considering it is because he wants to be able to demand concessions at the end of the war.  
 
It’s not that he’s a bad person necessarily, but he is the head of state and it’s his job to work for the best interests of his people.  
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  • The idea that a head of state is responsible for working for his own people's best interests is an interesting one.  And very true.  In fact, every head of state works for the best interests of his nation (or, in this case, planet or even organization of planets).  Working for your own people's interests isn't necessarily bad.  The fact that Leia understands this helps her.


#13
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chapter 13:
 
Using his infiltration skills, Nom Anor attends a meeting of heretics on Yuuzhan’tar.  It’s led by a pitiful Shamed One that even workers should know better than to follow, but they’re not particularly dangerous.
 
Nom Anor knows, however, how dangerous a movement can become with the right leader.  With a Prophet of some kind in charge, they could become an army. So it’s fortunate they are being suppressed. 
 
On the way down the road, he spots someone riding a quednak and recognizes the bulbous, misshapen head of Onimi.  Not knowing what the familiar is doing here, he decides to follow.
 
On Kashyyyk, Jaina is in command of Trickster, watching for any enemy ships that may appear.  She receives word that Admiral Kre’fey wants to see her and General Farlander on the Ralroost.
 
Anor follows Onimi to a damutek where he is not allowed in while disguised as a worker.  He feigns ignorance and asks where this is.  He is told this is for shapers only and to get out before they stick him in their cortex.  Anor walks away, satisfied at how warriors can be manipulated into revealing more than they should.  This is obviously a top-secret shaper project that involves Onimi somehow.
 
Kre’fey congratulates Farlander and Jaina on a resounding victory, even though they hadn’t accomplished the death of the Supreme Overlord.  He also takes the opportunity to tell Jaina that her brother Jacen is alive and is recovering on Mon Calamari. 
 
Jaina is surprised that she is not able to sense him through the Force.  She realizes that she cut him off when she went on her self-imposed retribution missions. 
 
Kre’fey asks how effective the Jedi meld is.  She tells him it works but they need more Jedi to make it really useful.  Kre’fey also mentions that the government of Bothawui has decided to declare the highest state of war with the Yuuzhan Vong as a result of Chief Fey’lya’s death.
 
He explains that an ordinary state of war is what they’ve been under.  For the Bothans, the highest state occurs when their survival as a species is threatened.  They did not even do this under Palpatine.  Only twice in their history have the Bothans gone to the highest state of war and that means total war until the enemy has been completely destroyed.  This means until the last warrior is gone and the entire culture is dust.
 
Nen Yim shudders as Onimi tosses lotion over his body that is intended for Shimrra and the shapers.  He assures her it will be enough and commands her on the hours she’s saved them scratching.  Nen Yim had been among the worst affected of the itching victims and had barely been able to concentrate enough to work out an antidote.
 
She has first call on any rescources as her work takes priority in any dispute.  With the Eight Cortex practically devoid of knowledge, she and her adepts are working to seek new knowledge that will help them win the war.  They are isolated from everyone other than Onimi.  The guards are there not only to keep others out but her and her assistants from leaving.  Nen Yim has no doubt that, once they have developed the protocols, they will be eliminated.
 
She reminds Onimi that this isn’t a cure.  It will kill the infection but the victim can always be reinfected and likely will be as the spore is everywhere.  Onimi asks if the World Brain can be instructed to produce something that will kill the spore.  Nen Yim speculates that the World Brain is the problem.  The organism that causes the itching is Yuuzhan Vong in nature.
 
Onimi blames the incompetence of Ch’Gang Hool.  He asks if she can instruct the World Brain to stop producing the spore.  She might, but she’d have to set aside her other work.  He tells her not to worry about it.  A new clan has been put in charge fo the World Brain and they can work on it.
 
For now, she must concentrate on the yammosk project so they can have a coordinator that is free from the infidels’ attempts to manipulate the gravity.  She is being given absolution if she needs to investigate any of their machines or weapons.
 
The infidels have gravity-manipulation devices called repulsorlifts that operate on the same principle as dovin basals.  They may be using one of these in their interference.  Onimi offers to get her one.
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#14
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chapter 14:
 
Cal Omas announces his candidacy, as well as his plan for the Jedi.  Though many questions are directed at him, a great many are asked of Luke who is in the crowd, trying not to attract attention.  Omas finally calls Luke up and he reiterates his desire to work with any Chief of State.
 
When asked if he would work with Fyor Rodan, Luke assents that he will if Rodan will work with him.  He is asked about Rodan’s assertion that the Jedi Council is a means to attain power.
 
Omas interjects to point out that Luke would not need to work with a politician if he wanted more power.  He could have joined Darth Vader years ago and have unlimited power right now. In which case, everyone here would be dead or a slave.
 
He goes on to say that anyone who has benefited from what Luke Skywalker has done over the years owes him a debt of gratitude, not suspicion.
 
Jacen has been released, but Vergere is still being held.  She’s provided reams of material and nothing contradicts what they already know, but that’s would they would expect from an infiltrator anyway.
 
Luke goes to see her and finds her watching a holo of the newsconference.  She tells him that, in her time, a Jedi Master would not have interfered with the Senate or an election.  Luke reminds her it would not have been necessary then.
 
He has spoken to Jacen about his captivity and is unhappy that she led him back to the Vong at least three times.  Not only that, he was tortured.  She could have escaped with him earlier than she did and wants to know why she didn’t. 
 
Vergere admits there were certain lessons he needed.  Though Luke taught him well, he needed to forget those lessons by learning that none of the girft given would help him.  It was necessary for her plans.  She took the right to lie to him and will also take the punishment should there be one.
 
Jacen needed to be reduced to nothing but himself and to act purely out of himself.  It could have been done more gently over time but that’s not something they had. She tricked the Vong into preserving his life, but that required the Embrace of Pain. 
 
Luke himself faced that once when he had nothing but the Emperor’s lightning coming at him.  He had only himself and he had to choose.  Luke chose to remain true to himself.  Jacen had to do that, too, so he could embrace his destiny.
 
Luke and Mara had heard Jacen’s matter-of-fact story about his imprisonment and how he bore Vergere no ill will despite her treatment of him.  Mara had reminded Luke how hostages sometimes become attached to a manipulative captor.  That’s what Luke had thought of Vergere when he came to her cell.
 
He asks what she knows of Jacen’s destiny.  She thinks he’s intimately connected with the fate of the Yuuzhan Vong in some way.  Luke wonders if Jacen can open them up to the Force.  He admits this bothers him because all life is the Force, but the Yuuzhan Vong are not within it.
 
She asks him if the problem is with the Yuuzahn Vong or his perceptions.
 
Outside, Ayddar Nylykerka admits she’s tricky.  Their plan is to hold her and keep asking questions.
 
Luke returns to Cal Omas and Mara to find that there was a vote that afternoon.  He got 28%, Fyor Rodan 35%, Cola Quis got 10% and Ta’laam Ranth 18%. Pwoe got three votes, though he doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the election.
 
Triebakk is off talking to Cola Quis who must realize he can’t win.  They are trying to see if he’d be willing to drop out and endorse Cal.  They’ll have to do the same with Ranth, though he probably wants to hold off for a place on the Advisory Council.  He’s the kind who thinks that patronage is the whole point of government, even if there really isn’t one.
 
Rodan’s people are the problem.  His supporters include a number of senators who want a truce with the Yuuzhan Vong.  There are at least a dozen who ran away from Coruscant before or during the fighting and some of them are influential.  Rodan has announced he doesn’t trust the Vong to keep a truce so he’ll have difficulty maintaining the support of his closest followers if he keeps that up. 
 
Mara doesn’t understand why one who showed bravery during the battle can cull the support of those who aren’t.  Omas points out some politicians don’t question the motives of those who are supporting them.  He hasn’t necessarily given Luke and Mara questionnaires himself.
 
What they all agree on is a government that is needed soon that the military will be willing to support. 
 
They return to their suite to find Jacen meditating. He tells them the Intelligence people are done with him, but they’ll probably keep Vergere for awhile.  Luke admits she’s not very simple.  Mara is still questioning her loyalties. 
 
Luke wants Jacen to take a vacation, reconnect with his friends, meditate and try to determine what the Force wants for him.  He wants Jacen to get beyond what Luke wants for him, what Vergere wants for him and just be alone with the Force.
 
Later, Luke and Mara discuss this relationship with Vergere.  That’s part of the reason why he wants Jacen to take time off to be alone.  He’s more centered now than he was which isn’t a bad thing, but he needs to be away from her influence.
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#15
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chapter 15:
 
Luke returns to Vergere and offers to trade one of his questions for one of hers.  She mentions he never answered her last question.  Is the fault with the Yuuzhan Vong or with his perceptions that they cannot be sensed through the Force.  Luke offers that she didn’t consider that the Force may be at fault.
 
That isn’t his answer, but he wants to do know if she has one.  He knows about her experience with Zonama Sekot and how she chose to accompany the Vong and live among them for 50 years.  If anyone knows the answer to that question, she does.
 
She admits she does, but will only elaborate with further questions.  It’s her turn anyway, so she asks him how Jedi beliefs are affected if the Yuuzhan Vong are completely outside the Force.  Luke answers that it means their beliefs are incorrect or incomplete or that the Vong are an aberration of some kind. 
 
Her opinion is that they are in the Force even though they can’t be seen in it.  This means they are owed the same measure of compassion he owes to all life.  He thanks her because the enemy would not have deserved compassion if they were not life.  Leading a war against them would have let the Dark Side enter himself and his training.
 
They debate the nature of anger and aggression.  She tells him that serenity is not the absence of passion.  They are not so much opposed to each other in the Jedi Code as their consequences are opponents.  Unchecked passion produces hasty actions.  Serenity produces actions that proceed from knowledge. 
 
She notes he was angry when he came to her before because of what she did to Jacen.  Though he calmed down when she explained her actions, she’s interested in knowing if the anger he felt was dark. 
 
Luke admits it could have been if he’d used it to harm her.
 
Vergere thinks that his anger was natural.  She caused harm to someone he loved on purpose.  It is natural that he felt anger.  By all means, striking her through the Force would have been dark, but Luke didn’t.  His anger compelled him to speak to her to find out her reasons.  In that way, his anger was useful as it led to understanding.
 
She postulates that his anger was not dark because he understood it.  For that reason, it did not control him.  Luke asks if she’s saying that understanding the emotion is to prevent it becoming dark.  She goes on to say that it’s not possible to suppress all emotion and it’s not even a good idea as it makes one a machine.
 
Luke tells her that Vader and the Emperor wanted him to surrender to his anger.  Vergere believes that they were trying to take advantage of his natural anger surrounding his captivity and to fan it into rage.  A natural emotion becomes an unreasoning compulsion and that is what is dark.
 
Luke admits he let that happen for a brief period.  He felt invincible and free.  She admits that’s when one feels most like themselves.  Their discussion is interrupted when Luke is told a fleet has left hyperspace and wants to speak with him.
 
Outisde, Nylykerka meets him, explaining that Errant Venture is here and there are messages from Talon Karrde and Lando Calrissian.  He also explains he’s running out of questions to ask Vergere, so he has few reasons to keep holding her.  Luke wants him to keep doing so.  He’s not convinced that she’s not a threat. She could have rescued Jacen in order to get access to the Jedi.  Of course, if she’s as powerful as Luke thinks she is, she can leave her cell at any time.
 
On the Wild Karrde, Luke brings Lando and Karrde up to speed.  He asks if either of them know of any specific details to the rumors about Fyor Rodan and his smuggling connections.  Karrde can’t help him because it’s not Fyor who’s the smuggler, but his brother.
 
He used to fly out of Nar Shaddaa and now is an independent smuggler.  There is no love lost between the two brothers.  That may be why Fyor is so sensitive about the issue.  Still, Karrde and Lando may still be able to help.
 
Luke reminds them that they can’t do anything that will cause PR problems for Cal Omas if they’re caught. 
 
Karrde and Lando assure him they are practiced at doing shady things without getting caught.  He shows Luke a mouse droid chassis that contains the sensor unit of one of the YVH droids.
 
The Hunter droids themselves are conspicuous and dangerous, but the mouse droid can sniff out an infiltrator, follow him and take data instead of blasting him. Mouse droids are everywhere; no one notices them.
 
Luke thinks this will be useful and recommends they speak with Dif Scaur, head of NRI, and Ayddar Nylykerka, head of military intelligence.
 
At Kashyyyk, Jaina finds her new quarters aboard the Starsider.  She checks her message first and finds one from Jacen.  He tells her briefly what happened to him and that he did not contact her through the Force because he felt the Yuuzhan Vong wanted her to come rescue him in the hopes of capturing her and sacrificing them both. 
 
He hopes she is doing well and will see her soon. 
 
Jag Fel is next, reporting that he’d met her parents and has heard that her brother has escaped.  He wishes he could be there with her.
 
Jaina knows this is madness to be in love when death reaches out to her.  Jacen has come back so that could mean things have changed.  She still thinks death is coming for her andd that the fewer people left to mourn her, the better.
 
In the pilots’ mess, she finds Kyp and tells him Jacen is alive.  He’s thrilled and offers her reconstituted rations to celebrate.  Jaina doesn’t know what to tell him she’s been doing since his capture.  Kyp advises to tell him the truth. 
 
She doesn’t know how to tell him she ran amok, especially since she lost contact with him through the Force.  Kyp reminds her that Anakin’s death was the cause of some of that, too.  She fears that telling him she lost control will send him into another paralyzing self-analysis. 
 
Kyp tells her that, if he didn’t look paralyzed in the holo, she should trust him to handle things.  When she sees him, she’ll know what to say. 
 
She tells him that Admiral Kre’fey and the Bothans have gone insane, thinking they’re going to wipe out the Vong to the last cell.  If that’s not the dark side, she doesn’t know what is.  Kyp reminds her the Dark Side can only take command when certain emotions take over.
 
They need to make distinctions here.  Aggressino for its own sake is bad.  A defensive war against invaders may not be desirable, but it’s justified.  A counterattack in a defensive war, such as what happened on Obrao-skai is justified, too.  If aggression lets darkness in, that’s wrong.  Justice is right, anger and vengeance is wrong.
 
In other words, Luke fighting Darth Vader wasn’t wrong.  Fighting him out of anger was. 
 
Winter meets Luke, Mara and Jacen at Ackbar’s apartment.  She tells them that Ackbar’s body is failing him.  His mind is as sharp as ever.  The problem is age.
 
She takes them to him and he welcomes them eagerly from his pool, admitting he’s much more comfortable these days if he stays in the water.
 
He asks Jacen about the Yuuzhan Vong and Jacen spends a long time explaining their culture, religion and leaderships.  When he’s done, Ackbar is glad because he knows how to beat them.
 
Working with Winter, he’s been working on a strategic plan for the war.  Admrial Sovv is willing to take his advice on this matter, but he’s not sure anyone will listen to the poor Sullustan.  Luke encourages him that people will listen to Ackbar.
 
Ackbar points out that Fey’lya didn’t listen to him and he had many supporters.  He wishes Mon Mothma were still here as they understood each other.  Since her death, he’s dealt with those who were not so understanding.  He wishes he hadn’t outlived her.
 
His plan requires the cooperation of the military and of the highest levels of government.  Right now, there is no government. 
 
On the way out, Winter expresses her sorrow over the loss of Anakin.  Jacen assures her that all of them appreciated all Winter did for them when they were young.
------------------------------------------------------


#16
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chapter 16:
 
For the time being, Jaina has decided to concentrate on being a good leader to Twin Suns.  She plans to put them in their ships everyday doing combat simulations. This falls apart the second day when they are practicing and get an alert that the Far Thunder and the Whip Hand are under attack by coralskippers.
 
The Far Thunder had been disabled at Obroa-skai and the Whip Hand was left to escort it.  Most of the Thunder’s crew was evacuated.  Jaina responds and finds that the captain just wants to buy some time to evacuate the rest of them.
 
Fleet Command is concerned this is an ambush.  Captain Harona of Scimitar Squadron has been told the decision is up to him.  If they don’t go, Whip Hand will be ordered to abandon the fight to save herself.
 
They decide to go in to buy the Thunder some time.  Jaina urges her rookie pilots to stick with their wingmates.  If it gets too bad, they will jump out.
 
They very nearly do when they emerge and are asked to cover Far Thunder.  During the battle, Jaina’s wingmate panics and their aft shelds are taken down. Jaina orders them to jump out, but Harona’s A-Wings help route the Yuuzhan Vong.
 
Her squadron has lost three craft and two pilots.  Her EV pilot is picked up by shuttles taking the Far Thunder’s remaining crew to the Whip Hand.  Once all are evacuated, Hand destroys the Thunder and moves on.
--------------------------------------------------
 


#17
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chapter 17:
 
Nom Anor leaves the temple, having heard the pronouncement that will be given to all Yuuzhan Vong for the next few days.  The reverence of the Jedi is forbidden.
 
Nom Anor is satisfied until he leaves the temple and realizes that the instructions were too detailed.  The priest Jakan had essentially explained how heretics should behave.  The ones Anor has seen have been confused and have no coherent doctrine.  Jakan has given them the detail they need.
 
He’s told them that the Solo twins are believed to be emanations of the gods, the power of the Jedi is a threat to the gods.  He suspects that the next meeting of heretics will be much more organized.
 
He approaches a shaper and explains that he represents the Emergency Resources department and have received a requisition from the office of a master shaper. The request is in very technical language that neither he nor his supervisor understand.  The supervisor will not release the resources until they are clear on what it’s for.
 
Apparently, the language explains it’s to fulfill the directives of the cortex.
 
The shaper explains that the cortex is a body of shaper knowledge delivered in the Before-Time by gods to the Supreme Overlord or masters shapers.  There are eight cortexes with the eighth being the highest.  It is the supreme body of knowledge of the shaper’s art.  Most of it was delivered to Shimrra himself and he has not delivered that knowledge even to master shapers.
 
Anor realizes they are doomed.  He thanks the shaper and thinks about what he has learned.  He knows how governments work because he’s subverted so many of them.  He realizes that the eighth cortex doesn’t exist.  The project he encountered is intended to create knowledge that Shimrra will deliver to his people.
 
Meanwhile, they are in a lengthy war with an enemy that continues to learn and innovate.  If the gods haven’t delivered this knowledge, then Shimrra is a fraud and so are the gods.
He’d always suspected this, but now he has proof.
 
His people need to win this war fast.  He will demand information from his agents and scour their reports carefully. 
 
Luke returns to Vergere with a package of candy which she takes happily.  She explains that her captors have run out of questions so they’re cataloging all her answers so they can ask the questions again and try to catch her in a lie. 
 
Of course, if they do, she’s a spy.  If they don’t, she’s a spy because she’s too well prepared.
 
He asks her how she prevented the Yuuzhan Vong from finding out about her abilities.  She tells him that it’s easier to demonstrate and that he should attack her through the Force.
 
He isn’t comfortable with this, but lets the Force build up and finds he cannot detect her.  She keeps sliding away from his perception.  Luke tries many different tactics, but all he accomplishes is that the prisoner in the next cell jumps up and confesses his crime.
 
She tells him he nearly succeed that last time.  However, she uses a variety of techniques, including one that a master of defense uses:  never be in the place that is attacked.
 
She narrows her focus bit by bit until it becomes microscopic.  For an enemy to find her, he would have to be able to find one molecule.  Luke realizes that this is how she makes her tears.  She admits she rearranges molecules and takes them apart to build new ones.  Her tears are convenient but she can use other material.
 
She can teach his healers if she is ever allowed to leave.  He asks if she will aid the fight against the Vong if she is released.  She agrees so far as it coincides with her goals.  She believes she should be helping Jacne with his destiny, though, as his mentor, Luke may have other plans for him.
 
Luke appreciates that consideration because he’s not sure she should ever be around Jacen again.   He tells her he doesn’t want Jacen to become too dependent on her.  Vergere notes that Jacen has said Luke hasn’t allowed aggressive actions during this war.  Yet, Luke had used aggression against the late Emperor, as well as criminal organizations, joined a military organization and accepted a rank.
 
She wonders what has changed for him.
 
He tells her the Yuuzhan Vong are a different enemy which makes his special talents ineffective. She asks if the Vong not really being outside the Force changes anything.  Luke doesn’t think it does.  He knows more about the Dark Side now than he did when he was young and know how easily it can enter the heart. 
 
She thinks it’s arrogance to think that he can prevent his students from making the same mistakes.  Even in the case of Kyp Durron, it was not his responsibility.  He is a Jedi Master, not a nursemaid.
 
When Luke attacked Darth Vader aggressively, was that the fault of his teachers?  Isn’t it the height of egotism to take the spiritual health of not only himself but his students on his shoulders?
 
He realizes she’s trying to make him angry.  She admits she preyed upon his weakness for self-doubt.  If his anger was dark, what is in him or in the Force?  He points out that Palpatine was dark and he certainly didn’t lack self-knowledge.  If dark passions are caused by a lack of knowledge, how does she explain the Emperor?
 
Vergere tells him that Darkness may enter through dark passions but it remains by invitation.  Palpatine chose to become dark and let his nature dominate.  He chose it coldly as some people do.  Palpatine may be one of them.  She can’t say as she knew him only slightly as a politician. 
 
She asks him if he thinks the Force cares about his thoughts.  Luke thinks it embraces all options, but he does caer.  Vergere thinks that’s a good answer because the light and dark are part of him and the Force reflects what it finds in him.
 
Later, Luke tells Nylykerka he might as well let her go as she won’t give him anything she doesn’t want to give.  He’s still concerned that she might be a threat, but they won’t find out by keeping her here.  He would like to be notified first if that happens.
 
Lando speaks with Senator Fyg Boras from Vortex about the many refugees from his world on Mon Calamari.  Lando explains he’s brought 16 ships’ worth of relief supplies here to help settle them, but he has a problem.
 
He has no way to distribute the supplies.  He would like to give the senator some of them so he can distribute them as he sees best.  In exhcnage, he would like to be able to sell YHV droids to the military.  Lando is hoping that the senator will vote an amendment into the upcoming military appropriations bill.  He gives Boras a lot of literature about the droids before he leaves.
 
Karrde has the whole thing on holorecording.  Boras has no planet to return to and no one to vote him back into the office.  He’s probably looking out for himself.  A 25 metric ton bribe will be hard to deny, though.  At least, he wasn’t like the senator from Bilbringi who wanted the supplies converted into cash instead.
 
They prepare to move on to Chau Feswin from Elrood which isn’t threatened right now but he might still have use for relief supplies.  Other senators who have heard about the offer are calling them, too. 
 
Karrde wonders if those people are accepting bribes from them, who else are they accepting bribes from. 
 
Mara has taken YVH-M-1 out for a hunt through government buildings, sending the little mouse to search on its own.  She soon gets a signal aout a possible infiltrator.  Mara follows the signal until she spots a tall female human who seems to be wandering randomly along the galleries.  Through the Force, the target is a void.
 
Mara follows her, watching her stop at a vending machine on which Mara finds something stuck there.  She sends the mouse droid to continue the pursuit, while she stays near the machine to see who will show up to pick up the bundle.
 
Within an hour, it’s picked up by a Suulustan male who uses the cash inside to buy a new jacket and then returns to work in a building requisitioned by the Senate. The Sullustan works in the office of Senator Krall Pregat of the Security and Intelligence Council.
 
She catches up with the mouse droid which had followed the infiltrator to an apartment building.  Mara calls Nylykerka and tells him to buy as many of the mouse droids as are available.
 
Cola Quis drops out of the race and endorses Cal Omas who has promised him chairmanship of the Commerce Council and some midlevel jobs to a few friends. On the next senate vote, Omas raises his percentage to 35%, with Rodan in the lead at 37%.  Ranth goes up to 22%.  The latter is being courted eagerly.
 
Refugee supplies are being shipped to the planet’s surface, the new military appropriations bill includes riders for the purchase of thousands of YVH droids and is passed quickly, Mara finds another infiltrator, squads of mouse droids begin taking to the streets, locating safe houses.
 
Admiral Kre’fey tells the crew of the Starsider that he wants every person in his command to ask himself every day how he can hurt the Yuuzhan Vong.  If that can’t be done, they must ask how to make their side stronger.
 
He is bouncing across the stage, triumphantly providing details on production and training.  It’s leadership they haven’t had in a long while, but, to the Jedi, it may be a little too much. 
 
He sends for Jaina after his speech and asks what she thinks.  She answers that it was the strongest speech she’s heard in this war so far.  Which is true and Kre’fey takes it as a compliment.  He wants to send her to see Jacen.  Jaina has been in continuous action for many months and deserves a rest.
 
While on Mon Calamari, he wants her to recruit more Jedi that she said she needed.  Lowbacca can handle taking over training her squadron a few hours a day for a couple of weeks. 
 
She sets out the next day, feeling she’s betraying her squadron.
 
Lando meets with Fyg Boras again and expresses his admiration for the way his committee dealt with the YVH amendment.  Boras admits a larger number of his colleagues were in favor of it than he expected.  It seems giving away relief supplies has a way of making friends, though the price of those commodities is going way down.  It’s clear Boras isn’t happy about that end of the deal.
 
Lando would like to discuss the next Chief of State.  He knows that Boras is committed to Rodan, but hopes to change his mind.  He shows the holo of their first meeting.  Boras reminds him that showing him allegedly taking a bribe also implicates Lando offering one.  Lando points out that he is clearly offering the supplies for free, but if it would be proved that the senator was selling them for profit instead, that would be illegal.
 
Several days of work end up with many defectors from Rodan’s camp.  Not everyone took a bribe, but some have other activities exposed by Talon Karrde, such as senators who’d used fleet resources to flee Coruscant or sprung criminals from custody beforehand.
 
Mara finds another infiltrator and follows her to the edge of a floating city.  Mara sends a mouse droid through the doorway of a private marina where the Vong arranges to take a jetty out. 
 
Mara then walks in and asks if they rent submersibles.  She’s told they don’t, but is distracted by another infiltrator coming in.  This flies in the face of everything she knows about spying.  Agents don’t meet face to face unless they’re stupid or overconfident.  Or if there is something really important happening.
 
She uses the Force to convince the vendor to rent her a ship and quickly leaves to follow them.  She spots them preparing to fire a couple of torpedoes at the city and can’t figure out why they would as it’s really no danger to the city.  Then she spots a building with Treibakk standing with Cal Omas at the viewport. 
 
Mara doesn’t have any weapons so she powers up the craft toward the enemy, ignoring warnings of collisions.  She runs into it, causing a disrupton that only intrigues the would-be targets looking out the viewport, instead of causing them to flee.
 
The other craft fires a torpedo at her which she evades.  Then it fires another one at Omas.  Mara pushes her craft again, leading the torpedo back toward the other ship and then brings her ship to a hover as the torpedo hits the enemy submersible.
 
Fortunately, by this time, Omas and Triebakk have figured it out and left.
 
Omas is stashed at the Skywalker residence with a couple of YVH droids on loan from Lando who also decided to offer them to other candidates, too.  Ayddar Nylykerka got Mara out of trouble for stealing a submersible and damaging it.  She returns to find that Cal is in the lead with 46%.  Pwoe did gain one more vote, totaling four.
 
With only 20%, Ta’laam Ranth doesn’t have much leverage.  Omas won’t have to promise him much.  He just doesn’t understand what changed the minds of so many of Rodan’s supporters. 
 
Luke assures him he has nothing to do with it, but thinks he knows who does.  It might be better if Omas doesn’t know any more.  He might want to consider that Rodan’s former supporters will probably only be good for getting Omas into office.  It might be a good idea to court Ranth and his people if he needs their help later.
 
The next day, Ranth releases his followers and Cal Omas is elected with 85% of the vote.  Omas moves off the Skywalker’s sofa and into a suite for the new Chief of State.  He begins working on his acceptance speech after he signs the order creating a new Jedi Council with Luke at the head.
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#18
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

    They call me MRS. Six!

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chapter 18:
 
Vergere contratulates Luke on his candidate being elected, but warns him that the Jedi will have to pay later for being involved politically.  Mara brings him holos from the Maw of Ben. 
 
Vergere acknowledges he’s a handsome child.  Still, she is surprised at his example of marrying and having children.  Other Jedi will follow his lead.  Luke reminds her that, in her day, Jedi had the luxury of recruiting infants, but he had to bring in adults who had already formed relationships.
 
She asks what will happen if a Jedi was forced to choose between duty and family.  He thinks having a family makes a Jedi more of a whole person.  She argues that it makes them less than a Jedi which is bad for their child.  Ben is heir not only to his father’s name but to a dynasty of three generations of Jedi.  Surely, Luke can see how people will view this as a threat.  Jedi passing on their power to their children threatens the balance between the Order and government.
 
Cilghal arrives to get another healing lesson from Vergere.  At least the old Jedi has been amenable to teaching the healer the art of making herself small in the Force. 
 
Mara thinks that Vergere is just bitter after spending 50 years alone, but she doesn’t want her anywhere near Ben.  Luke agrees and mentions he’s checked the Jedi holocron and determined there was a Jedi named Vergere who was the former apprentice of Thracia Cho Leem.
 
Mara notes that she may have been a Jedi then, but what is she now?  Luke doesn’t think she feels dark, but Mara argues that she’s practically invisible and they only sense what she wants them to. 
 
They decide to work on building a Jedi Council that day.
 
Tsavong Lah looks over the Square of Sacrifice where more than a hundred captives are gathered for a sacrifice commemorating the dedication of the great templeof Yun-Yuuzhan.
 
They are important captives, officers or Senators captured in the battle.  The implements of their sacrifice were ready.  Now it’s all ruined.
 
Shimrra had stood on the steps, the high priest of Yun-Yuuzhan had given his blessing and then an odor came over the gathering.  Some noxious liquid spewed up from beneath the ground and spread through the crowd.  It was full of every kind of waste.
 
The maw luur digests sewage produced by the city, but something had upset their stomachs and they vomited it up.
 
Shimrra had declared the sacrifice spoiled.  The onlookers were to dismiss and the captives to be killed.  The Overlord fumes over another public failure witnessed by thousands of their people. 
 
Lah tells him he has six remaining voxyn. He wants to take them out to see if there are any Jedi behind this. Nom Anor denies that there have been reports of underground activity.  They consider that this is just another manifestation of Hool’s incompetence.
 
Shimrra turns to Lah and reminds him that his forces destroyed an enemy cruiser recently.  Lah would rather take the fleet and fight a decisive battle.  To his surprise, Nom Anor agrees. 
 
Anor goes on to explain that, once their fleet is at full strength, they must bring about a decisive engagement that will win the war.  They had hoped the battle for Yuuzhan’tar would be that engagement, but the infidels have turned out to be more adaptable than tought.  If they can pick the right moment, using accurate intelligence, they can catch the enemy unaware.
 
Shimrra points out that Anor just lost two agents in a bungled assassination attempt.  Anor responds that agents can be risked this way as assassination attempts are usually unpredictable.  They cannot take the same chance with the fleet.
 
Shimrra agrees to a decisive battle once the fleet is ready, but only when they’ve heard from Nom Anor’s spies and Shimrra gives his permission.
 
Luke and Mara debate their choices.  He wants Cilghal because she’s a healer.  Having had ambassadorial experience is a plus.  Kenth Hamner has contacts in government.  Saba Sebatyne is a Barabel, trained outside the academy and has brought in a lot of students.  Streen or Tresina Lobi would be good choices.  Kam Solusar or Tionne would be good if there wasn’t war going on.  Luke prefers a Council prone to action.  He also plans to ask for Kyp Durron. 
 
He tells Mara that Kyp has matured a lot and he seems more stable since Borleais and Hapes. 
 
Cal Omas, having given his acceptance speech, certainly allows that Kyp hasn’t blown up any planets for awhile.  He would also rather not have to explain to a senatorial committee about Jedi being possessed by the spirit of a long-dead Sith Lord.
 
However, he also recognizes the importance of keeping opponents close at hand.  He has some of Borsk Fey’lya’s old cronies on the Advisory Council.  He plans to ask Fyor Rodan, too, and Luke.
 
Luke thinks Leia would be better, but she hasn’t come back from Bastion yet.  It goes without saying that Omas will be on the Jedi Council, along with Triebakk as a representative of the Senate, someone from the Justice Council, Releqy A’kla who will be head of the Ministry of State.  Luke reminds him her uncle was a Jedi. Sien Sovv will be the military representative if he chooses to retain his commission.  He tried to resign as soon as Omas gave his acceptance speech.
 
Luke tells him it would be a good idea to call on Ackbar who has a plan to deal with the Yuuzahn Vong.
 
On the way out, they run into Fyor Rodan, Omas’s next appointment.  He accuses Luke and Mara of doing something to his supporters.  If not them, their pirate friends.  He refuses to pretend this government is legitimate and won’t accept an offer of any position within.
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  • Thracia Cho Leem appeared in Rogue Planet

  • Luke obviously knows now that Jedi were taken as infants in the old Order.  The question, of course, is where did he find this out and when?  

 
 


#19
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 19:
 
Jacen spends his first day in the apartment marveling at the air, the food, the furniture.  He gets messages from his parents that cause his heart to joy the entire day. Mara suggests he buy some clothes so Jacen goes out and has some made, finding that he’s stopped by many on the street who recognize him.
 
He tries to speak with Vergere but she’s not allowed aby calls.  Luke explains he wants Jacen to be on vacation from her, too.  He’ d actually really like Jacen’s opinion on Yuuzhan Vong.
 
Jacen explains that they are really not all that different than humans would be if raised in that type of tyrannical poisonous system.  He doesn’t hate them any more than he could hate a child for being raised badly.  He could hate the originators of that culture, but they are long dead.
 
Jacen explains he understands them.  He was implanted with a slave seed that was supposed to control him, but Jacen found that it worked in reverse, too.  He can extend his mind into the Yuuzhan Vong and their creatures, sometimes influencing them.  It’s not really the Force and he can’t use both at the same time.
 
He doesn’t know if he can teach it, except maybe to Tahiri.  Luke doesn’t want to force her to go through a traumatic experience again. 
 
Jacen doesn’t tell Luke that he is still in contact with the World Brain and they are conspiring together to sabotage the worldshaping in minor ways.  He could inspire it to deadly action, but he doesn’t want to be responsible for mass murdering even an enemy.
 
That’s why he hasn’t told anyone for fear that someone will want to use it as a weapon.  He knows Luke would never do this, but it’s better to keep the secret as private as possible.
 
The next day, he is commed by Danni Quee who invites him to come out and visit the Mester Reef.  They take a hovercraft out and enjoy the warm waters.  She tells him how she was working for the Jedi until her team started getting results and was co-opted by the government.  They’ve moved some team members elsewhere and so Danni is taking some training in infiltration and communications in order to set up resistance cells.
 
There is some theoretical work going on, such as a group working on the details of Vong bioscience.  They made a discovery and were put to work under a new unit directly under a group of Chiss reporting to Dif Scaur.
 
It has to do with genetics which is surprisingly similar considering they’re from another galaxy.  There is one sequence that isn’t and it’s common to all Yuuzhan Vong life.  It’s possible that’s what also makes them unable to be seen through the Force.
 
They go to the reef again the next day with her friend, Thespar Trode.  When they return to the apartment for snacks, he finds Jaina waiting there.  They rush into an embrace and laugh until they cry. 
 
She tells him that Admiral Kre’fey wants Luke to send Jedi, then changes quickly before leaving.  He’s surprised that their reunion didn’t go as he’d thought and thinks he knows why. 
 
When she returns, Luke and Mara are there.  She seems tense.  She delivers Kre’fey’s request for Jedi and they ask her about her activities since the fall of Coruscant, particularly her state of mind.
 
Jaina explains that she thought both of her brothers were dead and wanted to go there herself.  Luke tells her that the Dark Side enters most easily through despair. He wants her to know that she does matter.
 
The next morning, they are awakened by the arrival of their parents.  Han grabs Jacen and whirls him around.  His mother is less emotional but Jacen is gratified by her faith that he was still alive.  Despite everything that has happened, Leia never lost her faith.
 
With the twins, the Solos and the Skywalkers, the two Noghri and C-3PO, the apartment is cramped already.  When Vergere arrives with no place to go after being released from custody, they rearrange things.  The Solos take C-3PO and move to another place with the Noghri.  Luke insists Vergere remain with him as a guest.
 
Jacen is doing his meditations when Jaina approaches him and does her own.  They work together through the Force until Jacen allows his mind to float through the coral reefs he’s visited lately.  Jaina breaks it off, explaining that this wastes time.  She needs to be doing something useful to end this war.
 
Leia tells Jacen she’s already had this argument with her.  Jaina won’t get away for awhile, even to get some perspective. 
 
Omas summons Ackbar, Winter, Luke, Nylykerka, Scaur and Sien Sovv to a private resort. 
 
Ackbar explains that retirement has given him time to think.  He has had friends in the government who have provided him with some data, though nothing top secret. Their military is growing stronger.  Though their shipyards have been disrupted, they haven’t been so fatally and are delivering new capital ships.  There are new recruits, despite the efforts of the Peace Brigade and others who favor surrendering, largely among refugees.
 
A standard fleet doctrine has been the primary problem since there have been so few successes against the enemy.  However, some of their advantages have been nullified by tampering with the yammosks.  There have been some intelligence problems, but those were due to facing an enemy with so many unknowns about them. 
 
He’s learned that there is a religious dynamic to the invasion.  Their enemy uses religion to camouflage the real reason for the assault, but that doesn’t mean that most Yuuzhan Vong do not truly believe their gods have given them this galaxy.  There are some divisions among them, but they are largely internal and there’s been no success in turning a single one into an informer.
 
They’ve been very successful with their intelligence.  They scouted the galaxy thoroughly before the attack and utilized agents, such as Nom Anor, to fuel civil conflicts and cause distractions.  The early months were characterized by uncertainty manipulated by those who’d infiltrated the highest levels of government.
 
The Yuuzhan Vong grow most of what they have so material losses seem not to be a problem for them.  He’s assessed a estimate of their losses thus far.  It would appear that about a third of the warriors have been killed.  Their recent battles, even the victorious ones, have been costly.
 
They can test these estimates by seeing if another major offensive is launched soon at a major target.  If they do, they have warriors to spare.  If they consolidate their gains, it means they are being cautious.  The warriors are aggressive, obey orders, fight to the death and rarely retreat, never surrendering.  It’s lucky that they have these weaknesses.
 
If they can count on every warrior behaving this way, it makes them predictable.  That’s a system-wide weakness that can be exploited to set a trap.  Their foolhardy courage will lure them in, their unthinking obedience will keep doubters from questioning their superiors or from taking the initiative to alter orders when they prove flawed in combat and they will continue to fight to the death even when victory is hopeless, not retreating or surrendering.  This is how they will be destroyed.
 
They will have to use an irresistible bait.  Ackbar recommends that, without seasoned troops, they will have to give their new recruits training through many small engagements.  The Yuuzhan Vong now have too many worlds to defend so the New Republic needs to make all of them targets.
 
He tells Sovv to make sure his commanders have the initative to take risks and fail, but only where the enemy is weak.  Victories will give the growing army confidence.  In the meantime, they should only defend those worlds vital to the war in a way that it will cost the enemy too much.  Unfortunately, that means only the worlds where new fleet elements are being produced, such as Kuat, Corellia and Mon Calamari.
 
Luke asks about the huge numbers of refugees they already have committed to protecting.  Ackbar tells him they must stop defending the huge convoys.  It ties their forces down and makes them weak.  Luke cannot give up his oath to defend the weak.
 
Ackbar reminds him that they are all weak.  The refugees are doomed no matter what they do while the enemy continues to thrive.  When they are strong again, their opponents will have better things to do than to attack convoys.
 
He estimates that three months of low-level engagement should be enough to test their forces. Luke notes that Scaur seems pleased at this and wonders if there’s something in the works for three months from now. Ackbar refuses a commission as they all know he is iin no condition to command anything.  Omas offers to create a consulting role for him.
 
Winter tells them that Ackbar cannot be kept to a schedule that requires him to run to meetings and hold inspections.  He should not be expected to entertain visitors asking for advice or favors.  Omas promises they won’t subject him to that.  He himself will call for an appointment if he needs to speak with the admiral   Sien Sovv agrees to do the same.
 
Luke will bring the matter before the first Jedi Council session.  In the meantime, he privately notes to keep an eye on Scaur.  The New Republic forces are told that Ackbar is back.
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#20
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 20:
 
Luke starts to open the first meeting of the Jedi Council until he realizes half of them aren’t Jedi.  Omas suggests they call it a High Council for now. 
 
Luke is here with Omas, Triebakk, Kenth Hamner, Cilghal, Ta’laam Ranth, Kyp Durron, the Minister of State Releqy A’kla, Saba Sebatyne, Sien Sovv and Tresina Lobi.
 
He asks if anyone has anything to bring before the council and Omas asks if he’s not going to make a speech.  Kyp would like to know why he’s here in the first place.  He doesn’t think he belongs on the council. 
 
Luke tells him he’s one of the most experienced Jedi, especially when it comes to fighting the Yuuzhan Vong.  Kyp thinks his renouncing of pride will be difficult if he’s sitting on a governing body.  The others promise to keep him humble.   Kyp does offer that Lowbacca and a team are investigating biotechnology on Kashyyyk. They’ve been working with dovin basals and can now duplicate those effects with interdiction technology to yank vessels out of hyperspace and ambush them.
 
Dif Scaur agrees this could work in conjunction with Admiral Ackbar’s plan, but thinks they should only discuss the first part since some of the plan is outside the scope of the meeting. Luke has been keeping an eye on Scaur but senses only a desire to keep the plan as secret as possible.
 
Sovv briefly explains the need to season new recruits with small skirmishes. He also mentions that Kre’fey wants as many Jedi pilots as he can get in order to utilize a Jedi meld.  There has been some success in previous engagements.  Luke has no objection to sending any who wish to go.
 
Omas hopes this will help the military who have not been encouraged by the political structure lately.  He’s almost afraid to give Garm Bel Iblis an order of any kind right now. 
 
Kyp adds that they need to be aware the Admiral Kre’fey is following the Bothan threat of genocide against the Vong.  He doesn’t want the Council to send Jedi off to fly for Kre’fey if it means they will be participating in mass murder.
 
Kyp admits that Kre’fey is an effective commander, but he doesn’t know what the admiral plans to do with this unusual Bothan policy. 
 
Ranth wants to remind them that the Vong are trying to destroy them.  It’s not likely Kre’fey or anyone else will be able to do the same, so they should keep the moral conundrums for what is feasible.
 
Saba adds that she has had experience with the kind of Force meld Kre’fey is wanting.  If this is successful, it will be the Jedi commanding the fleet, not the admiral. They would be in a position to stop any illegal actions.
 
Luke decides in favor.  Kyp agrees on the condition that the Jedi in question are warned about the Bothans’ intentions.  Cilghal wonders if Luke has reconsidered his stance about Jedi using aggression.  Luke says he has, so long as the Jedi in question confine objections to military targets. 
 
Kyp finds it ironic that they’ve been arguing for years about this and, as soon as he decides Luke is right, he changes his mind.
 
Luke admits he has more information now than he did then.  He was disturbed by the fact that the Vong could not be felt through the Force so much that he thought he might be destined to lead a dark crusade against them.  Such a thing would have been terrible.
 
He has realized from speaking with Vergere and Jacen that the Yuuzhan Vong are not exceptions to the rules.  They can be fought without wanting to wipe them out, without hatred or darkness.
 
He’s not sorry he was cautious, but he is sorry if Kyp already knew this two years ago.  Kyp would rather punch him.  It’s still possible for their people to be taken in darkness.  He’s been there and has seen it happen to someone else. 
 
Luke tells him that the Jedi Code has been hard to interpret because aggression was never defined.  He is defining it as an unprovoked attack, taking something that doesn’t belong to you or aiding someone else in doing either of these things.
 
Kyp points out a lot of confusion could have been saved with that definition.  Cilghal asks about Great River.  A lot of resources have been set up for this.  Luke advises that each Jedi must decide how he or she wishes to help.  He is going to continue work with the Great River.
 
There are other reports given before Tresina brings up the subject of  Zekk and Tahiri who have arrived with a refugee convoy with no masters.  Right now Alema Rar is looking after them but she doesn’t feel ready to take an apprentice. 
 
Kenth Hamner thinks they are warriors now and will be needed.  He suggests they be promoted to Jedi Knight.  Luke isn’t sure Tahiri, at 16, is ready for that, especially considering her recent traumas.  It may not be a kindess to knight her and send her off to fight the Vong.
 
Saba suggests they be sent to Tesar on Kashyyyk with Alema.  The Force meld will keep them from falling.  Kenth asks about Jacen, Jaina, Lowie and Tekli who were also with the strike team.  They should be promoted, too, along with Queen Mother Tenel Ka. 
 
Excited that these are the Jedi Knights of the new generation, Cal Omas suggests that they have a special ceremony.  Luke tells him there’s never been one in the past.  Cal thinks people should know about this. 
 
He plans the whole knighting ceremony and gives a speech about those who were lost:  Anakin, Ulaha, Eryl, Jovan, Raynar, Bela and Krasov.  Luke takes the podium next and speaks about the history of the Jedi fighting the Sith and other opponents over the centuries.
 
He calls each apprentice up and says something to each one.  Tenel Ka is warned her path as a queen will come into conflict with her path as a Jedi.  He cannot tell her which one to choose.  Tesar Sabatyne is told that the flame of a warrior burns in him.  Alema Rar was robbed of her childhood and family.  He hopes she looks to the Jedi for the love they can give.  Luke has never doubted Lowbacca and knows the Wookiee’s path will never veer.  Jacen is told he should never stop asking questions.  Zekk created himself in the image of the Knight he wanted to be.  He may have been the Darkest Knight of the Shadow Academy, but he still sought the light.  Tahiri Veila has had much of what she loved taken from her, but she should never forget that the Force begets life as well as death.  Tekli may not be strong in the Force, but her devotion is unquestioned. 
 
He is suddenly seized when Jaina comes to him.  He calls her the Sword of the Jedi, always in the front rank, restless, never knowing peace.  She should take comfort that others can enjoy peace and take shelter because of her.
 
He hadn’t meant to say that, but the words had come out. 
 
They all draw their lightsabers and recite the Jedi Code. 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t the New Republic’s interdiction technology always been able to yank vessels from hyperspace?  I mean, I know they’ve been able to keep ships from jumping but usually that also means that ships passing by get pulled out, too.  At least, that’s how the Imperial interdictors worked. 

  • What was Dil Scaur doing there?  He’s not a Council member.  Guest speaker, maybe?

 


#21
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chapter 21:
 
Cal Omas throws a reception in honor of the new Jedi Knights.  Jacen admits to Zekk that it feels odd staying on Mon Calamari while many of the others are going to Kashyyyk.  Zekk assures him he’s earned his leave.
 
Luke tells Leia that most of the ceremony ws Omas’s work.  Leia says that it was lovely, but it’s hard to see her children all grown up and belonging to the Jedi.  It does bother her a little, wishing they’d grown up to be something safer. 
 
She could feel something happen in the Force when he spoke with Jaina.  Luke would rather not talk about it.  The subject moves on to the election.  She’d like to know how Lando and Karrde pulled it off.
 
Luke admits he doesn’t know, but he can probably guess.  Leia thinks they should know as it will come out eventually and they’ll have to protect him.  When smugglers are involved in a swing vote for Chief of State, it will come out and the New Republic will pay for it.
 
When his father is commandeered by Kenth Hamner, Jacen slips off to Jaina who doesn’t want to talk about what Luke said.  He prefers they just congratulate each other again.  She notes Danni Quee is here and if they are seeing each other.  He doesn’t think they are in the way she means.
 
After all, she’s five years older than he is and is a very accomplished scientist.  He’s just a Jedi.  This statement makes Jaina laugh.   She tells him about Jagged Fel.  He’s really not the stuck-up fighter pilot Jacen thinks he is.  She’s shipping out tomorrow to Kashyyk, bringing Kre’fey’s Jedi back. 
 
Jacen counters that he knows she’s on a two-week furlough.  He knows she’s got this idea that the Yuuzhan Vong are getting stronger every minute, but she needs to relax.  She reminds him that she’s the Sword of the Jedi.  Peace is not in her future.
 
Jaina has accepted her own death.  It’s not that she’s felt it, but she knows that the odds are against her surviving this war.  Jacen urges her not to throw her life away, not to cut herself off from them.
 
Vergere is at the reception and approaches Jacen.  She did not see the ceremony because it’s not something a Jedi should do.  Her knighting consisted of Yoda telling her she was a Knight and that was it.
 
She came here to to see Jacen and wish him well.  She also wants to see if he has any plans.  Jacen says he’s on vacation until Luke decides he isn’t and then supposes he’ll join the fleet like the rest.  Vergere points out that his nature is not one of a military man.  She thinks he is reverting back to the attitudes of a child.
 
Jacen reminds her that the Jedi Masters of old used to consult with politicians.  She insists that Chancellors came and went.  The Jedi served the Old Republic .  Jacen points out that the new Jedi Order is on its fourth Chief of State.
 
He notes Danni Quee in the gathering and tells Vergere about the genetic work that may explain how the Yuuzhan Vong are isolated in the Force.  She seems distracted and asks who else knows this.  He assures her it’s very secret.  He and she, Danni and the scientists who are being kept in seclusion by New Republic Intelligence.
 
She can only imagine what will happen next and mentions a vague evil.
 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 


#22
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chapter 22:
 
Twin Suns Squadron is coming to assist Kyp’s Dozen who are engaged in a battle.  It’s strange to feel her opponents in the Force again. The Vong are using mercenary and Peace Brigade forces to defend convoys and rear areas.
 
This raid should go better than the one on Ylesia a few weeks back where bad intel had caused the raid to go wrong. 
 
Jacen’s presence emerges in the Force and Jaina knows where he wants her to go and that she should use her shadow bombs.
 
Jacen had finished a three-week vacation before Luke gave him a choice of working with the Great River or joining Jaina at Kashyyyk. Jacen had chosen the latter.  Upon his arrival on the Ralroost, it became apparent that his skills were best suited to sensing the entire battlefield through others.  He knows where to move elements and when to press or hold back.  He can sense the different personalities of the Jedi pilots.
 
With Jaina, it’s all about calculation.  She is turning herself into a weapon and won’t talk to him about anything other than her job.  He moves squadrons into position as the Force directs, then senses something hovering in the darkness.
 
Twin Suns turns towards Duro which is now a much different world than it used to be.  Yuuzhan Vong cruisers are there and they are not piloted by Peace Brigade draftees.  Jaina sends her first flight in, followed by the second.  They drop shadow bombs and destroy a cruiser before skips pick up their tail.
 
Col. Harona comes in, having been sent by Jacen.  Once the ships are destroyed, Kre’fey’s cruisers begin a planetary bombardment.  She can sense Jacen’s disapproval through the Force; however, this is an answer to Kre’fey’s question of how one can hurt the Yuuzhan Vong.
 
Twin Suns regroups with all rookies now veterans with kills to their credit.  Jaina and her team are bonding, but she is careful to avoid making friendships.  Though the engagements of late have been those designed to ensure victory, that won’t last forever.  Eventually, her squadron will be up against top-of-the-line warriors.  This keeps her on edge.  Fortunately, Kyp and Jacen’s presence keeps her stable, along with regular messages from her family and Jag Fel who is still hunting on the Hydian Way .
 
She doesn’t know what she should allow him to mean to her.  He could be a distraction, but she has moments where she yearns for him. The Yuuzhan Vong reinforcements arrive, but a bit too late. 
 
Kre’fey orders cruisers to regroup anyway and jump to hyperspace.
 
Ackbar announces that he thinks he’s found the trap he’s been looking for.  He speaks with Luke , Cal Omas and Admiral Sovv while floating in his pool at home.  Winter displays a star map that shows Treskov 115W which is an old star on the fringe of the Deep Core. It’s a dead end as hyperspace routes go, but adding the secret Imperial routes that Princess Leia brought back from Bastion shows that some of those lead into the Core and to an Imperial base code-named Tarkin’s Fang.  It was sealed and evacuated at the end of the Galactic Civil War but is still intact.  There is a cache of supplies stored there.
 
Sovv thinks that forces put there would be blockaded since the route is sealed.  Ackbar hopes the enemy agrees.  He shows them the whole system, which includes the world Ebaq.  The moon Ebaq 9 was once mined and then became an Imperial observation post.  He suggests that the New Republic reoccupy the moon and use it as bait.  They must make it an irrestible target, lure the Vong in, seal off the end and turn the system into a killing ground. 
 
Admiral Sovv will have to provide the forces and Master Skywalker will have to provide the bait.
 
Cal Omas calls a meeting of the High Council to discuss the plan and so that Dif Scaur can make an announcement.  It’s less crowded than before.  Kyp and Saba are at Kashyyyk and have given their proxy votes to Cilghal and Luke.
 
He doesn’t want to talk details, but he does want to mention that it requires detaching large forces which will mean that they will be unavailable if another attack is launched.  Triebakk thinks that launching an offensive will give the enemy better things to do.
 
Ta’laam Ranth would like to delay for six months when more ships will be available.  Relequ A’Kla agrees.  Luke advises them there is a time limit on the plan.  Since they currently have a technological advantage, the admiral doesn’t want to delay and risk the enemy coming up with ways to counter it.
 
Scaur tells them that there is a secret unit in NRI called Alpha Red which is headed by Joi Eicroth who used to work with Alpha Blue.  She has been working with the Chiss to do covert research on Vong biology.  They have discovered a unique genetic signature in their DNA that is common to all Vong lifeforms.  It is not found in any life native to this galaxy.
 
Ranth guesses that they’ve developed a weapon based on that.  Scaur confirms it’s a biological weapon that is airborne, attacking only those plans or animals that possess the genetic signature in question.  Dispersed on enemy worlds, it could end the war within a month.
 
They will be dead along with everything they brought with them.  He normally doesn’t recommend the use of a biological weapon, but he thinks this will effective enough to end the problem.  It will attach to their genetics and they cannot escape it.  It will eventually contaminate everything and everyone they contact, resulting in a break down on the cellular level. 
 
Omas has known about this since he was sworn in three months ago.  Luke wishes he’d known, too, as he would have prepared arguments against this.  He turns to Scaur and asks if he’s expecting to use Great River to distribute the weapon.  When the director admits it would be convenient, Luke tells him the Jedi cannot have any part of this and asks not to require them to.
 
Scaur isn’t surprised and tells him the Great River isn’t vital.  The Fleet can deliver the weapon on missles to enemy fleet target, facilities or planet.  The Bothan spynet is very efficient and Alpha Red will work within the Bothan government’s goals. 
 
Luke explains that the Yuuzhan Vong are intelligent educable.  They are not innately evil.  The Jedi are opposed to a weapon that will eliminate an entire species.  Nylykerka points out that the Vong have done exactly that in this galaxy.  Ranth agrees with Luke, especially in that the Vong could retaliate against New Republic worlds by using their own biological weapons.
 
Scaur is adamant that Alpha Red would destroy any biologicals before that could happen.
 
Triebakk is concerned about side effects, having had some experience in that area.  Billions up billions of live bacteria that is set loose on ecosystems is risky.  Scaur cannot possibly assure them that one of those bacteria won’t be a harmful to them, too.
 
The director offers to quarantine worlds until safety is determined.  Luke asks if it isn’t possible that the Vong could have prepared for this type of attack since their speciality is biological knowledge.
 
Scaur admits they don’t know for sure, but there are no signs and the weapon does work on live subjects.  Luke thinks this is something Palpatine would have done.  Scaur becomes furious and reminds Luke that Palpatine would have tested it on an entire population and used it to keep other worlds in line. 
 
They vote on it with the Jedi opposing it and all but Triebakk in support.  Omas, however, notes that this body is not legislative, but advisory.  He cannot afford to throw away any weapon during a war they are losing.  He authorizes the Alpha Red project to continue.
 
Scaur wants to shift the project to a frigate in orbit above Mon Calamari in order to begin mass production.  Omas is going to postpone Ackbar’s plan until it can be determine if Alpha Red will win the war. 
 
The Jedi can’t do anything but hope to change his mind. 
 
When Luke arrives home, he starts to meditate when Mara returns.  She asks what’s wrong and he tells her all about it.  She asks what will happen if they can’t change the Chief’s mind.  Luke suggests they wreck the project, but the scientists would be able to duplicate the work. 
 
He can’t believe that he’s worked his whole life to rebuild the Jedi, get a government that’s willing to work with them and the very first crisis requires him to turn on that government.
 
They have limited options.  They can protest the action but if they do so publicly, the Yuuzhan Vong would find out about it and hit with bioweapons first.  She suggests a quiet lobbying campaign, using Triebakk and Ranth to change the minds of the others. 
 
Seeing holos of Ben calms him down.  When he gets up, however, he goes to change and sees feathers in the spare room.  Vergere is there, in meditation.  He returns to Mara and tells her that he hadn’t sensed her when he came in.  Mara didn’t either as she was making herself invisible in the Force.
 
They weren’t exactly shouting the news, though.  They were whispering to each other.  Still, that doesn’t mean she hadn’t heard them. Detaining her may not work, so they’ll have to keep an eye on her.
 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • You know…they knew that Vergere was hard to sense in the Force.  Why, in Heaven’s name, they would rely on the Force to determine if it was safe to hold a top-secret conversation is beyond me.  You know what people without the Force do? They walk around the place and make sure no one is there!

  • The Ylesian raid in question occurred in the e-book Ylesia.

 
 
 
 


#23
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chapter 23:
 
For the next week, Vergere seems completely innocent.  Luke and Mara keep track of her whenever she’s not with another Jedi. Lobbying Cal Omas hasn’t managed to change his mine.
 
Nine days after the meeting, Dif Scaur arrives with New Republic security, telling Luke and Mara that the Chief wants to see them. 
 
Omas asks them immediately where Vergere is.  Luke tells him they saw her in her room that very night.  Omas tells them she’s not there now.  She got on board the frigate, wiped the records and sabotaged the weapon.  Somehow she’s altered it.
 
They want to know where she is.  Luke and Mara honestly don’t know and deny telling her anything.  Omas confirms she left a note saying she overheard a scientist say something suspicious and she followed up on it. 
 
There is still a threat that she will take the secret back to the Yuuzhan Vong.  Mara explains that she is not loyal to the Vong any more than she is to the New Republic . 
 
Scaur confirms the work can be duplicated, but it will take three or four months.  Omas orders the project moved to a safer location.  For now, they will move on Ackbar’s plan to keep the Vong busy.
 
During a complex battle, the Jedi meld tends to break down.  Jacen can contain and control a large number of Jedi, but too much can cause it to fade.  He always senses that something is beyond his reach.
 
His maneuvering has put the fleet in good shape for right now, but he wants to get better at this.
 
After dinner, Jacen seeks Tahiri and asks how she’s doing.  He wants to know if she’s ever felt the ability to sense the Yuuzhan Vong.  He explains how his implanted slave seed had given him telepathic contact.  She never experienced that herself.  Jacen tells her about its value and was hoping to teach it to someone else.
 
She realizes he means her and tells him she hates the Yuuzhan Vong.  He doesn’t want to bring back bad memories, but hating them takes a lot of energy that she could be using for other things.
 
She hesitantly agrees.  In his cabin, they touch hands, he tells her it doesn’t come through the Force but in an empy place where the slave implants were.  He tries to build a bridge between Tahiri and the dhuryam, but is unsuccessful.
 
When she leaves, he starts to do other things before realizing his mind is not alone.  Vergere is on the planet.  He gets permission to leave the Ralroost and heads down to Kashyyyk to a remote island.
 
She tells him about Alpha Red and what she had done.  He is horrified on many levels.  Vergere explains that the weapon can be rebuilt which means the Jedi still have a limited time to respond to this situation.
 
He doesn’t know what he should do.  She explains that she has felt he is linked to the Yuuzhan Vong’s fate in some way.  Only the Intelligence people are looking for her.  She suggests he take her back to the ship where she can hide among a thousand.
 
Han is actually pretty glad Vergere is gone because he constantly felt like wringing her neck for what she did to Jacen.  Luke isn’t sure where she is right now, but he’s leaving to go to Fondor for awhile.  He isn’t sure when he’ll be back.
 
He’s going to Garm Bel Iblis who is in command there and has been operating independently ever since the Fall of Coruscant.  That hasn’t been a problem until now.  With a plan to end the war, they need to know whether or not he will be there at the finish.
 
For now, Cilghal will have Luke’s proxy as well as Saba ’s.  Though Cal Omas is polite during their meetings, he no longer shares confidential information that Luke doesn’t already know.  It appears the trust is gone.
 
Luke turns to Han and says Ackbar would like him to take up his military rank and command a squadron provided by the Smugglers’ Alliance .  This will be Talon Karrde, the Errant Venture, Lando, etc.  Han isn’t biting until Luke points out that the squadron will be in support of Admiral Kre’fey’s fleet.  That’s the fleet that includes Han’s children.
 
Leia tells him to remind her to hit him when this is all over.  He tells her Kyp gets to go first.
 
On the Mon Adapyne, Kyp comms all Jedi to meet with him immediately.  Jacen lands and Vergere manages to avoid detection. Kyp is in the mess hall with Corran, Jaina, Tesar, Lowbacca, Tekli, Tahiri and Zekk.  He tells them that Vergere has run way and their orders are to detain her if she is found.
 
Luke didn’t tell him what she’d done but she is now the Jedis’ number one priority.  They are not going to be hunting her, but will keep an eye out for her.  Since Jacen is closer to her than anyone else, Luke felt she might try to contact him.
 
Jacen tells them she would be out of her mind to come to Kashyyyk with all the Jedi here.  Kyp agrees and tells them they are moving out with the rest of the fleet.  Something big is going on and it’s rumored to be in the Core. 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Can’t the Jedi who are away just appear via hologram the way the Council members of old did?  I mean, Cilghal getting to vote for her and Luke and Saba and Kyp is kind of unbalanced, isn’t it?

  • I thought the Smugglers’ Alliance was defunct a long time ago.  Did Karrde start anew?

 


#24
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chapter 24:
 
On Ebaq 9, engineers work to modify the docking bays, installing shields and bringing life support up to speed.  General Farlander protects the group with a huge force of 40 capital ships.
 
Jaina doesn’t understand the point of defending this useless moon in the first place.  Kre’fey’s fleet is stil not here with Jacen and the other Jedi.  There are constant drills.  There are rumors that Ackbar is behind this, but Jaina can’t imagine he would be unless he’s insane.
 
Mara plots with Nylykerka to let Senator Kell Praget hear about an emergency appropriation for a base in the Deep Core, intimating some movement on the part of the Chief of State and Advisory Council. 
 
When the Ralroost arrives in the Deep Core, Jacen notices the densely-packed stars.  Kre’fey offers to let him go see his sister.  The fleet had engaged in a series of raids against the enemy while on their way here.  Jedi melds coordinated each attack at Wayland, Bimmisaari, Gyndine and Nal Hutta. 
 
All this work means that Jacen hasn’t had time to smuggle Vergere off the ship. He’d hidden her in his cockpit for two days until he managed to get her to his quarters.  This means he can’t have Tahiri in his cabin practicing Vongsense and has to make up excuses why the practice has to be someplace less convenient.
 
It would seem, though, that there would have to be Yuuzhan Vong in the area for this to work and, when they are, it’s usually in the middle of a battle. 
 
He meets with Jaina on the moon and she admits she has no idea what they’re doing here.  Jacen notes there are plenty of Jedi so they can form a meld and hold joint exercises.  She expresses her frustration that she is just sitting here with a target on her back.  She wants the freedom to act and be the Trickster.
 
Jacen suddenly realizes that he and Jaina are the bait. 
 
Meanwhile, Ackbar advises that the bait must be real enough to be seen by the enemy.  Mara and Nylykerka have already used the Sullustan in Praget’s office, so they decide to use the Peace Brigade contractor working in the shipyards by giving him a moment alone in his supervisor’s office.
 
In the meantime, they are feeding all known operatives accurate, but out-of-date information.  Omas is going to say he’s going on a tour of military facilities and then drop out of sight.  With Paget’s office thinking Omas is going to be hold up in a secret facility guarded by the Jedi twins and the Peace Brigade contracter passing on details of that base, they have their bait.
 
Now that Jaina understands the plan better, she thinks it makes sense.  Luring the enemy in and trapping them at a dead end will work but it gives them every opportunity to destroy Jaina and her squadron first. 
 
She runs through maneuver after maneuver, tired and and knowing she’s losing her edge.
 
Jacen confides to Vergere that his sister is exhausted.  She’s in despair and doesn’t think she’ll survive the war.  Vergere tell him he is not responsible for her. He’s offered his help and been rejected.  There’s nothing he can do now.
 
Nom Anor finds himself face-to-face with Onimi who launches a lyric Anor’s way.  The huge shadow of Shimrra reclines and asks about news of the infidels.  Anor tells him that he has information that might bring about a decisive battle. 
 
Tsavong Lah is ushered in.  He assures the Overlord that the fleets are ready, padded with mercenaries.  Though the enemy raids them, they flee when anything of equal numbers approaches.  He is prepared to take the entire Corellian system, including Centerpoint Station. 
 
Nom Anor relates that his spies have passed on news that the New Republic government has fled to the Deep Core.  They may be trapped there and crushed. Lah suspects this may be a trap.
 
Anor assures them he has correlated the data from independent networks.  He’s got plans from one source, location from another and the fact that the Jedi twins are guarding it from another. The government is allegedly on some kind of tour.
 
This is their opportunity to be rid, not only of the New Republic Council, but the Solo twins and many other Jedi.
-------------------------------------------------------------
 
 


#25
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chapter 25:
 
Alarms wake the pilots who rush to their stations.  Twin Suns launches to find this is not a drill.  An attacking force not seen since Coruscant is here.  Jaina forcues her mind and senses voxyn.
 
Tsavong Lah sees the reaction of the voxyn and can’t believe Nom Anor was right.  Six of the voxyn had been off Myrkr when the rest of the species were destroyed.  The creatures already have short life spans and these are at the ends of theirs, but they are still effective.
 
The yammosk jamming begins, but the odds are so great that Lah isn’t worried.  There are battle groups named for the Slayer and the Lovers.  The Slayer will engage and the Lovers will converge.  Two groups in reserve will pursue through hyperspace if necessary. 
 
The enemy moves cautiously until the Yun-Yammka Battle Group moves to lay alongside them.  Then he sees the enemy squadron shift from a long line into a pointed spearhead.  With firepower, they pierce the extended Vong line. Suddenly, eight of the largest ships are hit by the combined power of the squadron.
 
Lah orders the Battle Group to engage as closely as possible. 
 
Nom Anor assure Yoog Skell that they will crush the enemy.  Skell doesn’t like surprises and neither does Shimrra.
 
Mara is told that the attack has begun.  She invites her to come to Fleet Command with her and Ackbar. 
 
Madurrin sends to Jaina that the Trickster jammers that identify friendly ships as enemies are not working.  Jaina loses another wingmate. She sends that they need help before feeling Kyp, Saba and her Wild Knights, Zekk, Corran, Alema and Jacen.
 
The new arrivals don’t concern Tsavong Lah.  He sends the Lovers Group to engage and support. 
 
Through the Jedi meld, Jacen can feel Jaina’s determination and near panic.  He can also feel another cloaked presence.  Vergere.
 
Thirty light years away, a New Republic task force drops out of hyperspace.  The squadron commander fires a single missles with an interdictor modeled after a dovin basal.  The mine is set in the center of the space land.  The other ships start dropping more conventional mines.
 
Farlander orders his group to change coordinates.  Tsavong Lah watches them leave with pleasure, but find them turning again.  He realizes that they are headed into the battle between the Lovers and the newly-arrived forces.  He orders the Yun-Harla Battle Group to engage the enemy immediately. 
 
Farlander’s entire squadron swings around the dovin basal space analog that the Ralroost had fired, and comes back.  The pursuing enemy can’t adjust speed in time.  It is a close-range battle between Kre’fey’s ship and the enemy.  When Jacen feels another surge in the Force, he welcomes his mother.
 
The Millennium Falcon is part of the Smugglers’ Alliance ships accompanying the Errant Venture.  Leia senses that Jacen wants them in a certain spot.  Then she feels terror and knows Jaina is in trouble.
 
Ackbar points out this is the critical moment.  The enemy might suspect a trap.
 
Jaina is rolling with no backup, in the middle of a crossfire.  Lowie takes down the skip on her tail.  Tesar reports he’s lost shields and an engine. 
 
The warmaster decides to squash the small squadron appearing on the flank of the Yun-Q’aah Battle Group.  He is asked if they have been led into an ambush.  Lah does wonder if Anor’s intelligence sources are reliable.  Though they had encountered two squadrons, one of them just seems to be a convoy escort.  If this were an ambush, it should be an overwhelming force.  It must be a coincidence.  He orders the engagement to proceed.
 
Jacen can not only see through the eyes of the Jedi meld, he can also see the Millennium Falcon’s attack through his mother’s eyes. He can feel  his comrades trying to save Tesar.  When Kre’fey tells him the minefield is complete, the squadrons leap from the Deep Core hyperspace lanes and begin to appear, bringing in the minds of Tahiri, Zekk, Alema and Luke.
 
The voxyn are howling as they detect more Jedi.  Lah refuses to be discouraged by greater numbers.  He reorders his forces. 
 
Yoog Skell accuses Nom Anor of betraying them.  Anor tosses blorash jelly at his superior and bring his amphistaff down on Skell’s head. He realizes that his speies had been fed false information.  Whoever had done this had let him draw the conclusions.
 
But it’s pointless to explain to his superiors how he’d been manipulated.  He has to escape even though he knows not where he can go.
 
Twin Suns is down to eight ships, but they are no longer engaging the enemy.  Jaina wants to turn into it, but Jacen tells her to stay where she is.  Their ships are too shot up and the others will just endanger themselves by protecting her.
 
They land on Ebaq 9 while Luke remains on the bridge of Harbinger, the flagship of Bel Iblis’s group.  His mission successful, half the fleet the general had been commanding has come to help.
 
Tsavong Lah knows the plan isn’t working and wishes Nom Anor dead in a gruesome manner.  He knows he should die in battle because Shimrra will not let him live after this.  He decides to make a sacrifice.  Altering course for Ebaq 9, he determines that some of the Jedi must be there.
 
Luke doesn’t understand where the enemy is going at first and then realizes what’s going on.  Ackbar frets that he did not forsee this. 
 
Vergere tells Jacen to be calm and the Force will tell him what to do.  He calls for his mother to intercept the enemy squadron at once.  He calls for his X-Wing and runs off the bridge.
 
The Smugglers’ Alliance squadron moves toward the enemy ships, Errant Venture firing first. 
 
Jaina orders her squadron back to their fighters, but Farlander countermands them.  He tells them to get into the mineshafts and shut the blast doors behind them.  The plan had been for the Yuuzhan Vong to realize they were ambushed or fight to the death, not bring the battle to the moon which has no real value.
 
The pilots limp out of the command center and down to the mineshafts.  Jaina stops by the armory because she assumes everything else will go wrong, too. 
 
Jacen isn’t surprised to find Vergere waiting for him.  She tells him he cannot help his sister with a single starfighter.  This isn’t his destiny. He tells her that it is his family.  She won’t stop him, but warns him that he must deal with the consequences now.
 
The Falcon skims the hull of the cruisers, pumping shots into it.  While most of the smugglers’ ships are not suited for combat, it also means they must improvise.  This is something they have more practice at doing than the Yuuzhan Vong.
 
Terrik launching the Venture at any ship he can find seems to work as the Vong seem to remember what happened with the Lusankya
 
Tsavong Lah orders open fire on the shields, ordering ships to dive down on them, then tells all other battle groups to withdraw to hyperspace once the troops are down on Ebaq.  The battle is lost for now.  The shields on the moon shudder.  Lah sends another ship to its death and demands the oggzil. 
 
The oggzil enfolds the villips and Lah broadcasts to all New Republic frequencies that there is a Jedi Hunt on Ebaq 9. 
 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • I would like to point out that the bait on Ebaq 9 was the Jedi for a reason.  Is there a reason why Ackbar would not have considered that the Vong will still go for them?

 




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