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Force Heretic II: "Refugee": Book 16 in The New Jedi Order

chapter discussion thread

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#1
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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Prologue:
 
A man who is no longer a man stands before an alien who is not what he seems.  They agree that everything is in its place, but the alien will only give the man what he wants when he’s satisfied that the bargain has been met.
 
The alien general gives him leave to depart, reminding him that they have what he wants.
 ------------------------------------------------------
 
Part I: Expedition:
 
1.
 
On Munlali Mafir, Luke finds the atmosphere rather thin.  His team continues moves to avoid the Krizlaws.  The Imperial survey had attributed the native inhabitants to the centipedal Jostrans, but they were nowhere in sight when the team landed.  They had been welcomed by the Krizlaws and treated to a banquet during which they heard of a mysterious Star-World that had increased seismic activity before disappearing. 
 
Luke had tried to assure the Chief that this world would probably not be back when they took offense and the guests became captives. Luke had forbad the use of force until he realized that he couldn’t use the Force to influence the two levels of consciousness held by the Krizlaws and one of them forced a grub down the throat of one of the stormtroopers.
 
Luke had used the Force to push one of them back and they ran for their lives.  Now, they are being hunted.  They race through the old palace, up the ceremonial mound and toward the shuttle waiting for them.  Jacen, Luke, Lt. Stalgis, Dr. Hegerty and a stormtrooper prepare to try to repel the nine Krizlaws coming after them.
 
The Millennium Falcon jumps out of hyperspace at Bakura, the Pride of Selonia on her tail.  Only the Defender and Sentinel are left of the four Star Destroyers left here 25 years ago after the Ssi-ruuvi invasion.  The other two were destroyed at Selonia and Centerpoint.
 
Jiana senses noting out of the ordinary and Tahiri, distracted these days, doesn’t either.  General Panib hails them but won’t let them land right now because there’s a situation here.  A new voice comes on the line and tells them to go steal someone else’s ships.
 
The general doesn’t have any control over this and is as frustrated with the newcomer as anyone else.  He assures Leia, though, they don’t want any meddling.  Leia explains they’re not here to meddle and that they are concerned about Bakura.  The newcomer doesn’t believe them and explains they have new allies who won’t abandon them the way that Ithor, Dantooine and so many others were left.
 
The Sentinel opens its launching bays and a swarm of Ssi-ruuvi battle droids comes out.
 
It’s Jacen who realizes that they are dealing with symbionts.  He and Luke use the Force to confuse the higher minds.  Then Jacen gets a handle on the lower minds which confuses the riders.  There are injuries among the team, though, and a further problem.  The Krizlaws are symbionts with another species, which is probably the centipedal Jostrans.  That may not be a good thing for the poor stormtrooper forced to eat the alleged grub.
 
The passage of Zonama Sekot must have destabilized the world enough that the Krizlaws took over at the expense of the Jostrans.
 
In the air, Jade Shadow takes their hails.  Danni Quee agrees to have Tekli go over to the Widowmaker to deal with the stormtrooper’s predicament.  Yage pops in to tell them that a Chiss corvette and a bunch of clawcraft have entered the system.
 
Not long after, she confirms that she’s been contacted by Commander Irolia of the EDF who wants to speak with him right now. Irolia wants to meet with him as soon as possible.
 
Twin Suns move into attack position, having had no combat experience with Ssi-ruuvi fighters.  General Panib urges them to wait as there’s been a misunderstanding.  The ships are only coming to escort them down.  The Ssi-ruuvi ships are using ioni jets.
 
Tahiri tells them the pilots of the ships aren’t human, but they’re also not suffering the way Ssi-ruuvi entechment is supposed to cause. She’s never touched minds like these before.  Leia tells Twin Suns to fall back for now.
 
She also tells Panib she wants to meet with Prime Minister Cundertol. Panib explains that the Prime Minister is unavailable right now. Bakura is under martial law.  He wants them to dock with Sentinel and he willl meet them personally within an hour. 
 
Han warns him not to try to tell them that the Ssi-ruuk are good guys.  Panib assures him that’s not the case, but the P’w’eck are.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • General Panib is recognized by Leia who remembers him from their last visit 25 years ago. In fact, Panib recognizes the Falcon.  Entertaining because Panib was never mentioned in Truce at Bakura at all.
  • Prime Minister Cundertol appeared in Shield of Lies.


#2
Jedi Cool

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2.
 
Jacen forces himself to stay calm as Tekli operates on the injured stormtrooper.  Saba is using the Force to strengthen the man while Tekli tries to remove the organism.  The grub that he had been force-fed was a juvenile Jostran that had burrowed its way into the abdominal cavity, traveled up his spinal column and taking over the body as it went.  Jacen is using the Force to control the Jostran.
 
Once it’s removed, they meet with Lt. Stalgis and let him know that his man just needs time to recover.  The officer is grateful as his trooper is also a good friend of his.  Danni appears and tells Jacen that he’s wanted on the bridge.
 
Commander Irolia insists that the planet is a legend and she can’t believe Luke is wasting time on this, especially on the word of a Yuuznan Vong spy who sabotaged the Alpha Red project. 
 
Luke only wants the freedom to look.  He recognizes the Chiss authority over nearby regions but wasn’t aware that the EDF had annexed this particular system.  She tells him that she needs to know what they intend to do with this planet if they find it.
 
Luke believes that this world could lead to the end of the war.  Irolia points out that their objective is military.  Further, their leadership consists of Jedi warriors, though, admittedy, the scientists fit in with their stated aims.
 
She agrees to this only because she wants to see the war end, too.  She gives them authorization codes that will allow them to pass to Csilla for one week.  After that, they must obtain permission to travel within Chiss space.
 
In the end, they agree to those terms as it will be easier to get the cooperation of the Chiss.  Clearly, they have heard of the missing planet and may have valuable data that could lead the team to it.
 
They speak briefly about Zonama Sekot’s affect on Munlali Mafir before Luke expresses his concern about how the Chiss have obviously learned Dif Scaur’s version of the Red Alpha sabotage.
 
Tahiri can sense tension on the Sentinel when her party boards.  General Panib greets them.  A beaked reptile appears, startling Tahiri, but he assures them it has no hotile intent.  It’s name is Lwothin and he’s the advance leader of the P’w’eck Emancipation Movement.  Though entechment is still used, it’s not the same procedure as before.
 
The group moves down the corridor and Tahiri notices that Jaina is looking everywhere but at her.  This hurts Tahiri’s feelings.  Jaina and Jag haven’t spoken much to her and she gets the feeling that they don’t trust.  Avoiding the urge to scratch the scars on her forehead, she walks off behind them.
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#3
Jedi Cool

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3.
 
In the Sentinel’s conference room, Panib tells them that Deputy Minister Blaine Harris is on the way.  He’d like to start without him for now.
 
Lwothin knows that the humans consider entechmen an abomination and admits that the temptation to turn it on the Ssi-ruuvi was strong. It’s been almost 30 years since the incursion into this section of the galaxy.  After their defeat, they stepped back and assessed their situation.  The Shreeftut was the ruler of the Imperium.  He was assisted by the Elders’ Council and the Conclave which advised him on spiritual matters.  The Ssi-ruvi believe that the spirit of any Ssi-ruu who died away from the homeworld would be lost forever, so they used combat droids powered by the souls of captives rather than risk their own lives in battle.
 
This worked for many centuries and they did not change it because there wasn’t a need.  When they came here, they assumed everyone did things the same way and were surprised when they learned it wasn’t.  After the defeat, they examined the technology they’d found here and began to develop hybrid vessels.  The life forces lasted longer and didn’t experience the same agony as before. 
 
But they were still slaves and were largely P’w’eck.  Then the Keeramak was born.  He is a rainbow-colored Ssi-ruuk that is alone among the species.  There is no clear gender and it caused a spiritual crisis, resulting in the Ssi-ruuvi believing he would make the weak strong.
 
It was raised like a king and proved to be exceptional in all respects.  Then it had compassion on the P’w’eck and freed them.  The Ssi-ruuvi Imperium became a thing of the past. 
 
They have continued research into entechment that allows them to nourish the stored minds.  The droid fighters today were souls enteched during the last days of the Imperium.  Although entechment is practiced as a form of military service, very few willingly give up their lives and it’s not required.
 
Panib has seen nothing to contradict these claims.  The P’w’eck arrived two weeks ago, offering a treaty.  The Senate and Prime Minister decided to accept the offer which caused riots among the general population. 
 
It turns out there are conditions.  Cundertol wanted the Keeramak to come here to sign the treaty but it won’t unless Bakura is consecrated.  The religious traditions of the Ssi-ruuvi are still followed.  If he dies off of a consecrated world, his soul will be lost forever. So Cundertol decided the Keeramak could come here and consecrate Bakura in person.  That’s when he disappeared.
 
Deputy Prime Minister Harris joins them and explains there was a bomb threat at the main spaceport.  He tells them that there is a violent and loudspoken minority causing some problems.  They have been behind many disruptions, including the interception of the transmission between the Falcon and General Panib earlier.
 
Fortunately, they have the terrorist leader in their custody.  Her name is Malinza Thanas and has confessed to kidnapping the Prime Minister.  The Solos are stunned.  Malinza Thanas is the daughter of former Imperial officer Pter Thanas and Luke’s old friend, Gaeriel Captison.  Both have died and Malinza had become a sponsored child by Luke and Mara.
 
Han reminds them that the transmission had told them to stay away from Bakuran ships and implied that the P’w’eck were allies.  This doesn’t sound like the same people.  He’s told that there have been isolationist groups on Bakura for years.  Some resent the New Republic and may have joined other groups to give the illusion of great numbers.
 
Harris wants to end martial law in preparation for the consecration in two days.  The Solos are invited to stay. 
 
Privately, the family is not convinced they’ve gotten all the information they need. 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Blaine Harris was Defense Minister in The Truce at Bakura.

 


#4
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4.
 
The Prophet is begged by the pilgrims to tell them the story of the Jedi.  Nom Anor in his guise as Yu’shaa the Prophet announces that he has had a vision of a galaxy of worlds on which they can live in peace.  A dark shadow came with rainbow-colored eyes and the gods sent warriors to strike it down.  The warriors were Jedi who fought for months, some of them dying, until it seemed the home had been taken from them.
 
Just as all was lost, the grasses of the field turned against the shadow and it fell.  Each blade in and of itself was weak, but, together, they were mighty.  They should all be as those blades of grass.
 
Nom Anor has never had such an audience.  He tells them that he has seen the Jedi face-to-face, meeting the Twins, seeing the One-Who-Was-Shaped and witnessing the death of the great Anakin Solo.
 
He tells them the story of Vua Rapuung who had found redemption in the hands of Anakin.  They had all heard it before, but this is the official version taught by the Prophet, consistent with known facts and teaching the right message.
 
He wonders how far this knowledge has spread and if it bothers Shimrra as it should.
 
He answers questions from his audience as to how the Jedi fit in with the gods.  They have aspects of the known gods, sometimes identifying with them.  But the Jedi are mortal beings, some with flaws.  It is their teachings that must be followed.  The Force is an aspect of creation that sprang from Yun-Yuuzhan the Creator.
 
He urges them to spread what they’ve heard here to others.  Their enemy is Shame and that must be defeated.  They should not fight the Jedi or the Jedi’s allies. 
 
Afterwards, Anor tells Kunra that they need to start weeding out those who just aren’t useful to them.  A list of qualified acolytes are going to be turned into the Select.  Kunra shows Anor a female caught by blorash jelly and holding a villip.  This does not necessarily mean she is working for an enemy, but it’s not something Anor allows to be brought into his meetings.
 
He wants to know who holds the master villip.  Once they have everything she knows, she must be killed.  The group will have to change locations for now.
-----------------------------------------------
 


#5
Jedi Cool

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Part II: Destination:
 
5.
 
When the freighter comes out of hyperspace a bit too close to Bakura, Jag flies Twin Suns up to intercept.  Bakuran Control confirms it’s not been authorized to approach the planet, but they’ve seen it before.  It’s the Jaunty Cavalier and is owned by a Wookiee called Rufarr.
 
Since the ship is in an uncontrolled spin, Jag gets permission to nudge it out of the way.  A spray of neutrinos hits Jag’s ship and he orders his fighters to move off.  The freighter explodes, leaving a jagged chunk of wreckage.
 
Captain Mayn reports an escape pod launched from the ship, headed for Bakura.  Jag heads off to pick up the pod.  Only one survivor is aboard and it’s Prime Minister Cundertol.
 
On the planet, Cundertol relates his kidnapping and how he was going to be interrogated and killed.  Fortunately, they hadn’t fastened his bindings very well and he got free.  After overpowering someone sent to check on him, he grabbed the blaster and confronted the others.  The Wookiee tried to jump him, so he fired and got rid of the others, too, except the pilot and the one he’d tied up.  The ship wasn’t in great condition, though.
 
Captain Mayn informs him that Malinza Thanas has been arrested.  He finds that hard to believe, but he’s more concerned that the Keeramak may cancel the visit. 
 
Leia finds it hard to believe that the man she remembered many years ago could overpower seven kidnappers.  Jag agrees that it sounds implausible, but he did have the element of surprise and seems to be in good shape.  On the other hand, he seems to have done it without getting any cuts or scrapes.
 
There really isn’t any evidence of wrongdoing on his part, though.  He seemed really surprised that Malinza Thanas was arrested.  Jag advises them that he was happy to leave the Prime Minister with Captain Mayn.  There’s something about him he doesn’t like.
 
Tahiri looks around at the docking bay they’ve been assigned.  The sight of Bakuran uniforms makes her forehead itch.  She spots a technician approaching the Falcon and, knowing Han hasn’t ordered any repairs, stops the man.  The figure tells her he needs to pass on a message to Han Solo.  He needs to be careful as things here are not as they seem.
 
Tahiri tells him she knows he’s a Ryn as she met one of them on Galantos.  The contact cannot stay long but advises them to take the quarters they are being offered as they will contain what is needed.
 
She passes it on to Han and can’t shake the notion that they are repeating the same things again and again.
 ------------------------------------------------------------
 


#6
Jedi Cool

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6.
 
At Csilla, Luke’s team stops to check-in with the Chiss government.  They are told that Commander Irolia is the intermediary they have been allocated.  They decide to ask for permission to land. 
 
Jade Shadow carries Mara, Jacen, Danni, Luke and Stalgis down where they are met by Irolia and a human named Peita Aabe who works for Assistant Syndic Fel.  They are taken to meet representatives of the Four Families and the CEDF.
 
The representatives are hooded and will not use names as it is they who are being asked for a favor.  Luke explains they are looking for a living planet called Zonama Sekot that may be hiding in the Unknown Regions.  He hopes that they will be assisted with any information the Chiss may have about this world and given permission to pass through their territory.
 
The representatives are uncertain as to why Luke wants to do this.  It doesn’t seem that this goal is attainable.  Two of their number want to grant access as there’s little harm in letting them search for something not within Chiss space anyway.  However, the vagueness of their motives does cause concern.  It’s possible that Luke is using this mystery planet as a cover for something else.
 
It falls to CEDF rep, Aabe, to break the tie.  He points out that allowing intruders unrestricted access to their space can cause problems. However, he believes the Skywalkers are honorable and it’s not in the nature of the Chiss to turn away those in need.  He suggests a compromise.  The Skywalkers shold be given access to the Expeditionary Library first so they can conduct their search safely.  However, this is open for a limited time.  If they do not find what they need within two days, they will be required to leave.
 
They are ushered out toward the library when Baron General Soontir Fel approaches them.  He had removed himself from the decision-making process because he knew he could not be impartial. 
 
He does offer them transport to the library so they can begin their search immediately. 
 
--------------------------------------------------------------
 
 


#7
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7. 
 
They’d spent their first day on Bakura with junior officials so Jaina is exhausted.  Prime Minister Cundertol returns which much fanfare leading her to agree with Jag’s impression that he’s not a particularly good statesman.
 
However, she’s gotten the impression that, though they are running mates working closely together, the Prime Minister and Deputy Minister Harris have an underlying tension between them. 
 
But there’s nothing she can pin down for sure and even Lwothin seems pleased to have Cundertol back.  She expresses her concerns to Leia that this delegation seems to have been forgotten. Leia reminds her that these people are just caught up in their own concerns right now.
 
Jaina points out that there’s obviously more going on here than they know.  She has a feeling that locking Malinza Thanas away isn’t going to eliminate infiltrators high up in government positions. 
 
Tahiri looks around the rooms with interest until she finds a small metallic capsule that may be what the contact said they’d find.  See-Threepio shows them how a small light contains a compressed holographic message written in an obscure Givin code.  The message directs them to Malinza Thanas.  It contains the cell number and name of the prison in which she is being held, as well as a passcode they can give at a specific door that night.  She has information they need.
 
Jaina decides that she will go.
 
Nom Anor uses the stolen villip to send a Shamed One as a spy into Lord Shimrra’s antechambers.  As expected, a guard stops him.  The spy claims to have been sent by the High Priest Jakan to present an offering.  
 
The guard doesn’t believe her and threatens her life.  She blurts out the word Jedi and the villip goes dead.  She had been given the means to take her life if caught, but that may not be enough to prevent Shimrra from realizing that infiltrators are trying to get access to his court. It will be harder next time.
 
Kunra points out that their numbers are increasing and it’s only a matter of time before they infiltrate naturally.  Nom Anor doesn’t want to wait.  They need to know what Shimrra knows. 
 
Jaina is confronted by security droids at the prison and asks to speak with Malinza Thanas.  The droids won’t let her in so she uses the Force to spin them around, getting closer to the rear door and using the password to open it.  Then she bullies the human guards into letting her speak with the prisoner.
 
She finds a teenager of about 15 in a cell.  Malinza knows Jaina from the pictures that Luke has shown her.  Jaina is a bit jealous when Malinza refers to him as Uncle Luke, ut has to remind herself that Malinza is an orphan sponsored by Luke after her parents died. 
 
Malinza explains her official charges are conspiracy and disturbing the peace which are both true enough.  She had nothing to do with Cundertol’s kidnapping.  She wasn’t even fighting a week ago but things have gotten that crazy around here.
 
A month ago, she was put in charge of a cell of activists campaigning to throw off the shackles of the New Republic and its proto-Imperial doctrine.  Bakura had just gotten its freedom when they held out their wrists to be bound again.  The New Republic doesn’t even exist anymore. They’re pretending they’re not losing by changing their name.  If they win this war, they’ll just chain everyone up again;  if not, everyone will be dragged down with them.
 
As for banding together to defeat a common enemy, there always seems to be one.  The Bakurans would have fought the Yuuzhan Vong on their own if it were necessary and it would have been their decision to do so. 
 
Jaina points out that no one ever told the Bakurans what to do.  They were always asked.  Malinza tells her they always said yes, too.  The New Republic was always happy to take their ships and their families away from them.
 
Knowing what this is really all about, Jaina puts her arm around Malinza and tells her she’s sorry about her mother.  Malinza admits she barely remembers her.  She remembers her leaving and not coming back.  She ended up being on the receiving end of the Cosmic Balance.
 
She explains how actions can cause reactions.  She doesn’t want the Galactic Alliance here for fear of what it could do to her homeworld. It’s nothing against Luke or anyone else.  Her group has nothing to do with violence so they didn’t kidnap the Prime Minister.  Those that were eager to use force were pushed out.  They often got recruits from other dissident movements and tons since the P’w’eck arrived. They are privately funded and used that money to find all kinds of corruption in government.   
 
She thinks she’s in here because they got too much dirt on the wrong people.  They were tracing some financial deal that went through after the P’w’eck showed up.  A lot of money went offworld but they couldn’t find out where it was going or who was behind it. 
 
Jaina decides it’s time to go and pushes the call button.  No one shows up when the door opens.  Malinza thinks her friends have come to help her, but Jaina isn’t so sure.  She decides to show her the way out just in case.
 -------------------------------------------
 


#8
Jedi Cool

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8.
 
Tahiri runs through the canyon, tired, and feeling as though she’s been running for years.  Her pursuer is right behind here, begging her not to leave her here.
 
She wakes up and remembers that she’s in bed on Bakura.  She can’t help but feel that this new family of hers is conspiraing against her. She gets up and sneaks to Jaina’s door, not hearing anything.  Then she goes to Han and Leia’s door and keys the code into the lock.  The Noghri are nowhere to be seen.  She tells Threepio she needs to get something, heads into the bedroom and finds the small silver pendant. A hand grabs her wrist and a voice calls her name. She passes out.
The librarian shows Luke and his entourage inside, showing them the exploration notes for Munlali Mafir.  They are in book form and this confuses the group at first.  The librarian explains that they have lost too much data to ice storms to trust more complicated forms of storage.
 
She offers to assist their search.
 
Tahiri finds herself in an old spaceport.  Someone is standing behind her and tells her that there’s nowhere to run.  Tahiri asks why the person wants to hurt her.  The figure answers that it’s because Tahiri wants to hurt her.
 
A creature approaches and the figure says that it can smell her fear and Tahiri’s guilt.  Tahiri says she has nothing to feel guilty for.  The figure agrees and points out that the guilt is there anyway. 
 
She wakes up with her mind asking her why she’s alive when the one she loved is dead.  Han is shaking her, telling her to snap out of it. She finds herself on the bed, both of Anakin’s parents standing over her in their nightclothes. 
 
She isn’t sure what happened but she was looking for something.  Leia shows her the pendant and asks if this is what it was.  Tahiri admits it was calling to her.  Leia believes they have been guilty of forgetting what happened to her on Yavin IV.  The Vong tried to turn into something other than human and she hasn’t gotten over that. 
 
She knew Tahiri would come for the pendant, hoping to see what would happen.  She asks Tahiri what has been going on the last couple of years.  Tahiri admits she blacks out sometimes and has dreams. Leia suspects she dreams she’s someone else.  In fact, Leia had called Tahiri Riina before she woke up and he girl had responded in the ong language.  This personality is still inside of her.
 
She has to accept that.  Tahkri screams and grabs the pendant, pushing past them, barreling through See-Threepio and runs.
 
Jag asks if the Riina personality could cause her to hurt someone.  Leia tells him they’re more concerned with her hurting herself.  They can’t contact the Bakuran authorities because a lone Jedi running around with a Yuuzhan Vong mind is probably not going to go over well. 
 
Outwardly, she seemed alright so they all thought she’d overcome her experiences.  Han thinks Anakin’s death pushed her over the edge. Jag admits he and Jaina worried there was something wrong, but they didn’t expect this to happen. 
 
He’s also upset when he finds out Jaina hasn’t returned from speaking with Malinza Thanas.  An alarm cuts that conversation off as Jag is informed that a fleet of thirty ships has arrived in system.
 
The Bakuran Defense Fleet confirms that the Keeramak has arrived.  Jag has never seen actual Ssi-ruuvi ships before, though the Chiss have fought them on occasion.  He hopes the Bakurans are ready.
-------------------------------------------------------
 
 


#9
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Part III: Aggression:
 
9. 
 
Saba is getting itchy in the library.  They had thought skimming these books would be time-consuming, but they are moving along faster than expected.  There is still nothing found on the missing planet.
 
Luke finds an entry about the world Yashuvhu which had been settled three thousand years ago and recently encountered by the Chiss. There are no wandering planets but there is a description of an ancient woman called the Prophetess who oversaw the spiritual development.  The living energy field in her teachings can only be the Force.
 
Her real name was Valara Saar and she lived in the Yashaka Mountains . The Chiss tried to visit her but were repelled.  The images draw show her wielding something like a lightsaber.
 
Danni finds a reference to an asteroid belt disturbed by recent tidal forces.  The inhabitants on an inner world had created murals showing a new star in the sky that appeared and then disappeared later.  A religious war erupted over it.
 
Luke adds that there’s no evidence the planet is trying to harm the people it comes across.  It may be doing that, but probably not deliberately.
 
Jaina and Malinza jump off the roof onto a lower rooftop.  They head down a stairwell, climb through a window and across a power line to another building.  Inside, they find Malinza’s comrades.
 
She is surprised to find that her friend, Vyram/b] wasn’t responsible for her escape.  He admits he tried but it might have been someone on the inside, like a sympathetic guard.  Jaina suggests it could have been Cundertol himself.
 
Vyram has been working on finding out who did kidnap the Prime Minister and shows Jaina his data.  He has been able to patch into the planetary network in spots.  Jaina asks about their funding and is told much of what they have has been done themselves so they can stay independent.  Jaina does believe something has changed and they have to find out what.
 
Vyram says they found a leak of government funds, but no information as to where it leaked to. The communications blackout occurred when they started to dig.  This has to be someone high up in government to have been able to set the payments in place and order the arrest.  Jaina wonders if it’s Blaine Harris. 
 
Vyram tries to jump into his records but can’t establish a link.  There seems to be a signal swamping the feed.  He finds it’s a homing beacon instead.  They all turn on Jaina who they assume is the one who holds the beacon.  Then Vyram points out that the transmission is coming from Malinza.
 
They find it, realizing that she was planted with one in the hopes that, by escaping, she would lead the security forces to her confederates. Jaina warns them they need to get out of here.  When the perimeter alarm goes off, they realize they’re out of time.
 
Jaina offers to take the beacon and lead their would-be captors on a chase.  Vyram decides to use a distraction they’ve prepared for such a day.  [b]Salkeli will go with Jaina to show her the streets.
 
Malinza promises they will meet again soon and the group disperses.
-------------------------------------------------
 


#10
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10.
 
The researchers are finding more references now.  Often witnesses told the Chiss surveryers about a Coming of the New Star or Dawning of the Death Sun that allows the path to be traced.  Zonama Sekot had appeared at the fringes of the Unknown Regions before it jumped to the outer edge of the galaxy.  It encountered a species that later told Chiss visitors of a world that hung in the sky for a month burning and smoking. 
 
It went inward toward the Core and encountered several species before settling down for almost a year.  It inspired a space race before disappearing again. Later reports describe a green world which means the planet was healing itself.
 
Saba is intrigued by all of this before she is startled by the arrival of a woman and a girl.  The woman is Syal Antilles and the girl is her daughter, Wyn.  They are looking for Wyn’s father, the Baron. 
 
Syal thinks Zonama Sekot is just a myth and wonders what they are really after.  She thinks the Jedi are looking for allies among the Chiss as they’ve resisted the Vong better than the New Republic did. 
 
Wyn tells Saba that her mother doesn’t mean this and is only worried that the Galactic Alliance will come and take her father away like it did Jag.  Syal Antilles admits it’s only been since the fall of Coruscant.  Before then, she was trying to talk her husband into fighting, but he didn’t want to.  He felt the New Republic could handle the enemy but then they lost the capital.  She knew then that he would change his mind and that they would lose.  She will not let her husband be taken from her.
 
Saba points out the Chiss won’t be any safer if they don’t join the Alliance .  Danni adds that the Yuuzhan Vong shouldn’t be underestimated.  Too many species have paid a price for doing that.  Hiding here will not save them. Saba understands her fears but there is no easy solution to this war.  Turning their backs on it will not save them.
 
When the Baron arrives, Wyn asks to stay and help with the search.  Her mother allows it and leaves with Danni.
 
Jaina and Salkeli race through the streets, avoiding security, when a loud explosion  distracts the guards.  Propelled by repulsors, the hideout lifts off the building and drifts away. 
 
Jaina and Salkeli jump into an aqueduct and swim to a metal ladder.  Jacen drops the bug into the water and they climb up onto a different section of the city.  He offers her a ride back to town on his conveniently located speeder.
 
Then he shoots her.
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  • This is the first appearance of Syal Antilles, despite many references.
 


#11
Jedi Cool

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11.
 
Tahiri runs along the corridors, trying to outrace her memories.  Master Ikrit’s last words told her that she and Anakin were stronger together than separately.  She had loved Anakin.  She shakes with sobs and knows nothing can fill his absence. 
 
She wants to go back and kiss him that last time instead of holding back.  She wants to go back and fight at his side, to die with him. 
 
Someone calls for her and she tells them not to come near here.  It’s the Ryn.  His name is Goure[/b and he asks her to put down her weapon.  He takes her someplace private, gives her a drink and explains he found out she was missing and had a good idea where she was.
 
Han and Leia are busy with other things.  Jaina is being charged with assisting Malinza Thanas’s escape.  She remembers now finding the pendant and blacking out, of the war between herself and Riina. 
 
Goure wants to go find out if Jaina’s been discovered yet.  He assures her she’ll be alright.
 
The audience prevails upon their Prophet to explain why they are still beaten and killed when the word spreads more and more each day. He tells them that they will only be free until the UnShamed accept them as equals.  They are blind and showing them the message will not help them see it.  Those who are open will see the truth.
 
 He is told that there are movements above to eradicate this entire teaching.  They may not have years for the message to reach everyone. Nom Anor is intrigued by this penitnent and realizes she is wearing an ooglith masquer to disguise herself as a Shamed One.
 
This could be the link to get him to Shimrra, but he must know who she is first.  The pilgrim comes closer and reveals that she knows he’s Nom Anor.  Fearing that she is about to kill him, he attacks first with poison darts.   They find that she is [b]Ngaaluh, a priestess of the deception sect.   She was offering him a piece of tissue as an offering.
 
He struggles to get her the antidote before she dies.  He can’t believe how he’d been provided the answer to his prayers and he’d almost killed her.  He insists the best care be given her and tells Kunra to make sure no one overheard what she said.
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#12
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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12.
 
Goure takes Tahiri down a turbolift with a sanitation worker named Arrizza.  they open up to a sub-basement corridor under the Senate chambers.  They have to do it this way because security has been on edge since the kidnapping.
 
He explains how they have been inspired by the Great River to oppose the efforts of the Peace Brigade.  They have no idea who their leader is so they can stay secure.  They move to a bunker with rations and a weapons cache stored here after the Ssi-ruuk invasion all those years ago.
 
Tahiri understands why this would be here and why some people want nothing to do with the P’w’eck.  So she wonders what has changed now.  According to Princess Leia, Cundertol had not been particularly happy with aliens when they’d first met.
 
The intruders find a command center where Goure hopes to find information on Jaina.  He slices ito the bureaucracy and finds that there are hidden holocams in rooms that aren’t supposed to have them.  He starts looking through footage when Tahiri spots something.  An image of Han and Leia standing in the Prime Minister’s office.
 
Cundertol tells them there’s nothing he can do if their daughter appears to have been complicit in the escape of a dangerous criminal. There are legal avenues if she believed Malinza was innocent.  Besides, the girl has disupted Bakura too often not to be behind bars.
 
Han reminds him that he thought Malinza was innocent when he’d first been rescued.  Cundertol asks what gave him that idea.  Leia breaks in and tells him she thinks Jaina has been set up.  They were contacted by someone claiming to have information that led Jaina to Malinza, but only to speak with her.
 
If she helped the girl escape, she had to have been coerced or tricked.  The Prime Minister points out that, at this moment, there are two Jedi roaming the spaceport unsupervised the day before Bakura is scheduled to cement a lasting peace with an old enemy. He wonders if the Galactic Alliance knew this was going to happen and showed up to disrupt the ceremony.
 
He dismisses them when his desk buzzes and reiterates that they are still welcome at the ceremony.
 
The holocam shows four P’w’eck guards enter the room after the Solos leave, along with one who must be the Keeramak.  The Prime Minister rises and bows.  Then he responds to the Keeramak in fluent Ssi-ruuvi, something no human can pronounce. 
 
An exchange in that language ensues, Tahiri insisting that they have to show someone this.  Goure suggests the Deputy Minister might be able to do something if they get to him before the ceremony. 
 
Security buzzes in and demands to know what a cleaning crew is doing in there and doesn’t believe their excuses.  On the way out, they are confronted by security droids.  Goure leads her down a maintenance shaft.
 
Wyn Antilles can’t believe that Jacen prefers to leave the fighting to his sister.  He tells her that women are allowed to fight in battle where he comes from.  Her parents are speaking with other members of the group.  When she got bored with the search for Zonama Sekot, she decided to have fun with Jacen instead.
 
She tells him that they believe that, too, but people should fight when they have to because the enemy doesn’t care about your preferences.  Jacen explains that he meant that he prefers to put himself in situations where he can use his other skills, too.  Not every conflict can be solved with violence.
 
She points out that he carries a lightsaber which is odd for a man who doesn’t like violence.  Danni reminds them they need to be searching for the planet.
 
So far, they’ve got sixty appearances in a forty-year time span that ended during the Imperial rule.  It seems to have settled somewhere for the last twenty.  Luke appears and tells them the Shadow is coming closer if they need a rest.
 
Jacen decides to stay and keep looking.  The Fels are going to come with Luke and his team to the ice barge. 
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  • Just a quick note: I didn’t say anything when Baron Fel’s wife was referred to as Syal Antilles .  After all, I knew they wanted to emphasize that she is Wedge’s sister.  However, why is Wyn referred to as Wyn Antilles?  Isn’t she Soontir Fel’s daughter?  I mean, Jag and Chaf’s last name is Fel, right?

 


#13
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13.
 
Jaina wakes up and finds herself in a landspeeder.  Salkeli is taking her to meet someone who has money.  She accuses him of betraying his friends.  He tells her that they did it to themselves by going up against the big cannons.
 
She realizes they were getting close to someone high up.  He stuns her again.
 
Jacen and Wyn work through all manner of data until Jacen asks her who Jer’Jo Cam’Co is.  His name appears in a large number of records.  She explains he was a founding syndic who proposed the EDF.  There are at least seven vessels named after him and two systems, but nothing in the old or new Republic records.
 
She asks him to describe Coruscant.  It saddens him to think of his homeworld as it is now.  He tells her about the city-planet and she thinks she’d like to go there some day.  She asks him if it’s really possible they may not be able to defeat the Yuuzhan Vong.
 
He’s honest with her and says it could be.  She admits that no one really cares what she thinks, but she sometimes believes that the sooner they get rid of the Vong, the better.  She doesn’t want what happened to Coruscant to happen here.  They need to do whatever they can even if it means working with the Galactic Alliance.  Few people believe that, though, fearing Jacen’s people will corrupt their culture like they did Jag.
 
Jag and his squadron were supposed to return months ago and the fact that he hasn’t come back proves to some that he’s being influenced.  Jacen didn’t know this was a problem, but does assure her that he’s been a big help.
 
She tells him that her father is rather disruptive, too, arguing for the use of combat droids which the Chiss don’t like to use.  Irolia sits nearby and gives them a look, clearly indicating that this is territory she would rather them not address.
 
Jacen apologizes to both, admitting he should not have pryed and they should return to their work.   Aabe shows up quite soon to bring Wyn back to her father.  Jacen and Irolia are unhappy to see her go, Jacen feeling that something has just happened.
 
He contacts Luke on the ice barge not far from the spaceport and asks if anything unusual has happened recently.  Luke isn’t aware of anything.  Jacen explains that Aabe showed up and took Wyn off, presumably at the request of her father.  Luke hadn’t seen Fel contact anyone about his daughter. 
 
Jacen senses an alarm in the Force and can’t tell where it is until Mara announces that they are under attack.  He jumps up and Luke tells him he can’t talk now.  Left alone with nothing else to do, Jacen stands in the library and wishes the Force be with them all.
 
Jaina wakes up again without her lightsaber, comlink and anything else that could help her.  Deputy Minister Harris tells her he’s been told she wants to speak with him.  She asks what he’s been doing with the credits he siphoned from the Bakura treasury.  He had Malinza Thanas put away because her group of activists found out. 
 
Harris tells her it wasn’t him at all, but he’d be interested in finding out who.  He’s not denying that he’s up to something though.  He shows her the preparations for the ceremony and explains that their planet will become sacred soon.  Harris really doesn’t believe in this stuff but the P’w’eck do and that’s enough.   He asks her if she’s noticed the similarities between the Yuuzhan Vong and the Ssi-ruuk.  They are both xenophobic, caste oriented, religious and expansionist.  They have both been opponents of the New Republic .
 
Jaina points out that the Yevetha were like that, too.
 
Harris goes on to say that both cultures use defeated foes as slaves.  Of course the P’w’eck have abandoned that as well as the xenophobia of their old masters.  He’s hoping they will also learn to adapt their religious beliefs into nonviolent forms.  But he wants to do it without the New Republic breathing down their necks. 
 
She tries to assure him that they were brought here to make sure things were alright as an informant had told them something was going wrong.  Harris can’t believe their appearance here is a coincidence, but tells her that Bakura will be strong again, with no shackles to the Empire or the Republic. 
 
Not everyone agrees, but they will.  After all, the Cosmic Balance even allows for a great evil to bring about a great good.   The door chimes and Salkeli answers it, revealing three hooded figures that are Malinza, Vrayn and Jjorg.  She tells him that their comrade, Zel, was shot whle they were escaping.  She demands to know what he’s going to do about finding out who framed her for kidnapping and then letting her escape.
 
Salkeli tells her she should know him well enough to know he would never let himself be caught or killed.  Harris pulls a blaster and tells them to drop their weapons.  He funded them because their goals are the same.  He’s going to unite the people against the Galactic Alliance by making Bakura safe.  They will govern their own destiny. 
 
The only difference is that they will unite behind him after her tragic death.
 
Malinza stiffens the pushes Salkeli, kicking him and clubbing himt o the ground.  Jjorg moves forward, but is killed by Harris.  Within an hour, the planet will be a consecrated part of the P’w’eck Emancipation Movement.
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