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"The Final Prophecy": Book 18 in The New Jedi Order

chapter discussion thread

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#1
Jedi Cool

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Prologue:
 
The Shamed Ones of Yuuzhan’tar, formerly known as Coruscant, chant to the Prophet Nom Anor.  It’s difficult for him to shake years of contempt for his new army, but they are his only hope now.  Setbacks have made it hard for him, though, with his agent in Shimrra’s palace killed, more of his followers uncovered and fewer responding to his call.
 
He needs to give them back their faith.  Anor announces that he had a vision of the living planet of the Jedi and the Shamed ones walking with them on this world. This is Shimrra’s doom.  Anor has put this together from rumors he’s heard of an actual Jedi mission to find this world and that it has Shimrra terrified.
 
Eventually, the truth of his words will be verified through more rumors and strengthen the resolve of his followers who do not seem so offensive now.
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  • The time is apparently still 28 years ABY which makes Jaina/Jacen still only 19, Luke and Leia 47, Han about 57.

 
 


#2
Jedi Cool

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Part I: Vision:
 
chapter 1:
 
Tahiri Veila walks the ground of Dagobah in order to visit the Dark Side cave to explore her inner self.  She also wants to meditate on the alternatives to the vision Anakin had had of the worst mixture of Yuuzhan Vong and Jedi.  The Yuuzhan Vong and the people this galaxy can learn a lot from each other. 
 
For example, the industrial wastelands of Duro or Eriadu would never be created by them.  On the other hand, twisting lift until it suits their needs isn’t much better. Their hatred of machines does not necessarily translate into a love of life.
 
The Force is the key, but the Vong are somehow blind to it.  If they could feel the Force, they would realize the wrongness of their destructive paths. 
 
She is being followed, however, knowing that it couldn’t have been Han and Leia who betrayed her.  It might be Peace Brigaders or someone else hoping to make a present of her to Shimrra.
 
Tahiri reaches the tangled tree where Anakin had come to face his demons once.  She jumps into the hollow of the tree and waits.  There isn’t anything through the Force, but her Vongsense.  This means her pursuers are Yuuzhan Vong.
 
She hears voices muttering, indicating clearly that they have been following her.  They discuss calling her out, but she might think they wish her harm.  This confuses her.  Finally, the tracker calls for her and requests an audience. 
 
She looks out and finds a group of Shamed Ones.  Suddenly, they are overshadowed by a tsik vai, an atmospheric flier, with Yuuzhan Vong warriors clinging from cables.  The Shamed Ones raise their clubs and face the threat.  The tracker announces they cannot win here and should run.
 
Tahiri leaps down and battles them until only 7 warriors are left.  That soon falls to 3, but only the Shamed One tracker is left of his group. He has sustained serious injuries, but stands with Tahiri to face the remaining warriors, one of whom has heard of the One-Who-Was-Shaped.  He believes this heresy is a lie and urges the Shamed One to help them capture her.
 
The tracker attacks him instead, impaling him with his amphistaff. Tahiri takes care of the other two.  The tracker tells her he prayed she was the one and they run off.
 
An hour later, they stop to rest.  He tells her that they stole a ship from an intendant and came here to find the prophetic world.  They saw her land.  She explains that she doesn’t know what world they mean, but they are on Dagobah.
 
His name is Hul Qat who was once a hunter until the gods appeared to reject him.  He gave of hope until he heard the word of the Prophet and of the Jedi Anakin.   If she is the Jedi-Who-Was-Shaped, she was there when Vua Rapuung was redeemed.  She knows the Jedi are the salvation of the Shamed and can lead them to the world the Prophet has seen where all may walk in peace.
 
They wanted to find the planet and learned this world has some connection to the Jedi.  Knowing he is injured and about to die, she lies and tells him he made it.  He begs her to tell the Prophet where this world is and dies.
 
She realizes that the Force brought her here for this reason and stands up. 
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  • Anakin came here in the JJK books, Anakin’s Quest.

 
 


#3
Jedi Cool

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chapter 2:
 
Wedge Antilles is so tired of all this.  The Mon Mothma loses its port shields and 200 beings lose their lives.  Right now, they are facing coralskippers running right at the bridge, but the biggest problem is the Dreadnaught that has shown up and blasted a hole in the side.
 
They are at Duro which fell to the Yuuzhan Vong a couple of years ago.  Vong reinforcements arrive and Wedge reports in to General Bel Iblis.  Afterwards, he orders an interdiction that will prevent any ships from leaving the system. 
 
He is immediately contacted by the Duro commander, Yurf Col, who demands to know what he’s doing.  Wedge cannot explain his tactics on an open comm. where the Vong are likely listening in. 
 
When he refuses to explain, the Duro ships break off to fight on their own.  They take heavy fire while Wedge does nothing, knowing they are trying to get his people to attack.  It takes several hours before the last Duros ship blinks out and a few more before the interdiction ceases and the GA leaves Duro in the hands of the Vong again.
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#4
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chapter 3:
 
Nen Yim never ceases to be disgusted by Onimi, the familiar of Overlord Shimrra., who seems intent on wasting her time.  Still, she follows him down the corridor of the damutek to a secured corridor.  Inside is an inrregular object that she determines is alive.  It’s a glasslike surface that has four limbs sharpened on one end, rounded on another.  It’s damaged.  She knows this is a ship, but not a Yuuzhan Vong vessel.  It must have come from the infidels. 
 
He gives her a small qhasa and warns her to keep this secret.
 
Her assistant, Quelah Kwaad, asks her why they have to put up with him.  She explains that he is sometimes Shimrra’s emissary.  They have different rules here than they would ordinarily have.  The adept assures her he is proud to be here and that the Supreme Overlord has vindicated what is considered heresy.
 
Nen Yim reminds him that he hasn’t dne so publicly and won’t.  They may be protected from outsiders, but they are also guarded.  No one will ever know what they do here.  She tells him to think about what this means and not to speak it allowed.
 
Privately, she already knows the truth, that Shimrra must pretend that their inventions are gifts from the gods.  That illusion cannot be broken or he will be exposed as a fraud.  This, of course, means that none of them will leave alive.
 
She sits the qahsa before her and studies it, getting excited and a bit fearful.  This thing can change everything.  It could also doom them.
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#5
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chapter 4:
 
Jaina is given a toast by Twin Suns Squadron after a battle in which not one pilot had been lost.  They also toast Wedge whose plan allowed the GA to take back Fondor.  It’s of little comfort to Lensi, a Duro Rogue Squadron pilot who feels betrayed by the GA.
 
Jaina explains that the attack on Duro was a feint to draw reinforcements from Fondor, leaving it open for liberation.  Lensi protests that the commander was not told this.  In fact, no one was which is why it worked.  Jaina reminds him that Wege had to make the attack at Duro look convincing.   This is war and many pilots here have lost their homeworlds.  None of them wouldn’t want to prioritize the liberation of their planets, but that’s not how battles are chosen.
 
The Duro fighters died today because they disobeyed orders.  Jaina tells Lensi that he’s a good pilot and has done well with Rogue Squadron.  The GA is going to win this war, but only if enough people keep fighting.  Lensi reminds her that he was at Sernpidal when she slapped Kyp Durron for lying to her.  She knows what it’s like to fight without really knowing what she’s fighting for.
 
Jaina admits she knows what a lot of things feel like, but that hasn’t stopped her from fighting.  Lensi is not the only person who has lost something in this war.  She didn’t know Wedge’s plan either, but he did the right thing.
 
Admiral Sovv asks Wedge what his opinion is.  Wedge admits they should have told Col so he would know what he was getting his people into.  Kre’fey acknowledges that it would have been fine if circumstances were ideal, but Bothan intelligence has information that a spy was placed high in the command structure of the Duros exiled government.  That’s how the Vong learned the plan to attack Duro in the first place, falling into their trap.
 
There is no way of knowing if Col could have been trusted with that information.  It cost them more than they wanted, but less than projected.  It also gives them a position from which to strike at Coruscant.
 
Sovv considers the matter closed.  It will take two or three months before the shipyards become productive again here.  They will continue to isolate Coruscant from the rest of Vong territory.  Yag’Dhul and Thyferra are secure, too, but the capital is still supplied.  It’s time to threaten that supply line by hitting Bilbringi next.
 
Bel Iblis thinks it’s too close to Coruscant and can’t be held.  Antilles points out the Vong will not ignore a threat that close.  He doesn’t think the GA has the ships to take it or keep it.  Sovv mentions that the Vong have the same problem.  Besides, Bilbringi lies within striking distance of the Imperial Remnant.  Admiral Pellaeon has agreed to support them in this.
 
He suggests that the main fleet launch from Mon Calamari under Kre’fey while part of the fleet at Fondor will move to meet under Antilles.  They will all converge with a detachment from the Remnant.
 
Bel Iblis isn’t confortable with this as he knows the Empire wants something, specifically, planets, in return.  Sovv reminds him that the planets belong to the Vong now and aren’t even recognizable from what they used to be.  They need the Empire to win this war and that means giving them some goodwill afterward. 
 
Wedge doesn’t like it either, but he agrees that they will have to press their advantage while they have one.  Sovv mentions that there is another option.  They all know he means Alpha Red.  Very few are eager to pursue this choice which means that they will have to support the offensive.
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  • Lensi first appeared in Edge of Victory: Rebirth.

 
 


#6
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chapter 5:
 
Nen Yim kneels before Shimrra who asks if she has studied the device.  She confirms it’s a living ship for the most part.  He thunders about the metal and the engines and the lack of dovin basals that make it nothing like their own ships.
 
She strengthens herself and admits that those things are true, but the biotechnology is similar to their own.  The dovin basals could easily replace the engines which makes them compatible. 
 
This is not a Vong ship transfigured by the infidels.  This was grown elsewhere. The qahsa has revealed the planet of origin is living itself.  Shimrra refuses to accept this.  She goes on to say that there is nothing in the protocols to account for a ship like this to exist.
 
He wants weapons against this ship developed, telling her the planet itself was destroyed.  She privately wonders why he wants weapons if, theoretically, there would be no more ships, but keeps her tongue.
 
Nen Yim has a new shaper called Ahsi Yim who worked on the changing of Duro, forced to develop new protocols for the unusual situation.  She was transferred to Yuuzhan’tar where she found the masters less flexible.  The infidels are adaptable and the Yuuzhan Vong need to be, too, if they wish to triumph. 
 
She knows they are practicing heresy and would ordinarily be sacrificed.  Yim explains the ship they’ve found.  The protocols happen to have certain weapons that seem singularly designed to counter such ships. 
 
Ahsi isn’t certain that the gods anticipated this as they haven’t changed in centuries.  If the gods don’t think intervention was required here, there wouldn’t have been so many problems with the Jedi.  Yet there is nothing in the protocols to counter them either.
 
The only thing that makes sense is that their ancestors battled this race in the past, despite there being no record of it.  They can be erased, of course, but it doesn’t make sense to erase records of a threat.  Nen explains that the personal qahsa of Elk’m Val reveals that he was sent to explore this galaxy and encountered a planet named Zonama Sekot.  He brought the ship from there.  He claimed the planet was alive and that its lifeforms shape, but not as the Vong do. 
 
The planet repelled the attack, Val left the system and Shimrra claims the planet was destroyed.  She does not believe him as she’s been asked to develop weapons against it.  There could be other worlds like it which would indicate that Shimrra fear that this race has the key to defeating the Vong biotechnology.
 
She thinks that Ashi knows more than she’s telling, that she’s knows about this planet.  Nen needs to find it because it could doom their species.
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#7
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chapter 6:
 
Nas Choka demands to know, from Zhat Lah, what happened at Fondor.  He is told about the Duro attack and how they were prevented from leaving the system by interdictors while the infidels attacked the other world.
 
Lah maintains they could not win the battle and spared his remaining ships to fight another day.  He is surprised when Choka agrees and tells him he did well.  Too many commanders, even victorious ones, such as Tsavong Lah, expend resources needlessly without thinking of how they would hold the territories they conquered. 
 
The Yuuzhan Vong must adapt as the infidels have done.  They utilize these tactics by communicating with each other via their HoloNet.  Destroying that network would be difficult as there are relay stations everywhere. 
 
Choka thinks that it’s time to prioritize communications disruptions and the gods have given the shapers a weapon that will be helpful to that end.  He gives Lah a new battle group here on Yuuzhan’tar.  He feels the infidels will attack soon.
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#8
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chapter 7:
 
Nen Yim moves under the natural darkness of Yuuzhan’tar which had once been filled with lights for millennia.  The world is now finding its natural state.  She meets the priest Harrar who warns her about her attempts to find the Qorealists.
 
She insists she doesn’t know who they are.
 
Harrar explains that Quoreal was Supreme Overlord before Shimrra and there are rumors he was dishonorably murdered by the same.  His old followers still exist underground.  Whether she knew who and what they were may not matter.  If she keeps trying to contact them, Shimrra will find out.  Harrar wants to know why she’s doing this.
 
Nen Yim knows nothing of politics and is loyal only to Shimrra.  Harrar points out that she has, nevertheless, found Shimrra’s enemies and wants to know what she wants from them. 
 
There is something she seeks that may be of vital importance to the Yuuzhan Vong but the Overlord will not let her see it. I began with a commander named Ekh’m Val.  She describes briefly what she knows.
 
Harrar asks if she knows of the heresy of the Jedi.  Nen Yim points out that she was on Yavin IV when it began, though she does not follow it herself.  He tells her that it now has a Prophet who has told of a living world for the Shamed Ones.  This does sound like her Zonama Sekot.
 
However, he is too highly placed to be able to smuggle her off-world to search for it.  He offers to put her in touch with the Prophet who may be able to help her, especially if he thinks she is sympathetic to his cause.
 
Both the planet and the Prophet are threats to the Yuuzhan Vong.  They can be rid of them both if this goes well.  Harrar cannot contact the Prophet directly, but he can let things out that he will surely hear of.
 
Harrar watches Nen Yim slip away and feels he can trust her.  Clearly, some information has been kept from the shapers about this living world by Shimrra.  Nen Yim operates outside of protocols and in secret.  She is likely practicing another form of heresy, possibly inspired by Mezhan Kwaad.  If she is supported by Shimrra, he’s a heretic, too.
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#9
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chapter 8:
 
Nom Anor receives a message from a Shamed One sent by the shaper Nen Yim who cannot leave Shimrra’s compound.  She believes the living world exists and wants to see it. 
 
Anor wishes he’d received the visitor in private rather than in front of so many followers.  Kunra doesn’t help by continuing to pronounce the living planet a truth and how they must rise against Shimrra.
 
Anor doesn’t know what he’s playing at, considering he knows the truth himself.  Kunra wants to liberate the shaper and search for the new world with her.  Nom Anor decides that they need Jedi to help free the shaper and find this world.  Let them take the risk and the blame if it fails.
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#10
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chapter 9:
 
Han points out that Tahiri could have hidden on Dagobah rather than fly her X-Wing past a frigate looking for their defectors.  Leia assures her that Han was just worried about her and is glad she’s back.
 
Threepio startles her by giving her a Yuuzhan Vong greeting, but she knows he’s just trying to make her feel welcome. She admits to him that having two conflicting sets of values inside of her can be overwhelming at times.  For example, she doesn’t really believe that droids are abominations, but she has memories of being taught that they are. 
 
After a nap, she goes to speak with Han and Leia.  She tells them she encountered Shamed Ones on Dagobah who were looking for a planet that they believe will bring them redemption.  Since the Jedi are part of new form of worship for them, they felt that Dagobah might be that planet. 
 
She knows, however, that they must be looking for Zonama Sekot.  Leia tells her that Kenth Hamner contacted them while she was sleeping, wanting to speak with her.  He mentioned that it involved the planet and a dissident movement within the Vong.
 
Tahiri explains she made a promise to the Shamed One that she would carry news of the planet back to the Prophet, but Dagobah is not that world.  Han doesn’t think she is old enough to know what she’s doing.
 
Kenth Hamner confirms there will be a big push soon, but he can’t give details.  Corran Horn joins them, careful to see if Tahiri is the same girl he knew.  Hamner shows them a Yuuzhan Vong qahsa.  Stroking it reveals the face of a Shamed One.  The device was sent to them a couple of days ago via a Yuuzhan Vong courier.
 
They haven’t known much about the cult that emerged after Anakin rescued Tahiri on Yavin IV, but they have gotten more information now.  The qasah displays the face of a Shamed One.  He calls himself Yu’shaa the Prophet, leader of the Shamed Ones.  He explains how they had no hope until they came to this galaxy and the Jedi showed them the true path.  He believes the Jedi know of the living world of Zonama Sekot which he has had vision of.  He begs them to take him there so he can see it for himself. Yu’shaa tells them he is on Yuuzhan’tar and provides them a schedule of times they can meet him,
as well as some data about the planetary defenses.
 
Han thinks it’s a trick.  Tahiri points out his followers are already looking for the planet.  Han reminds them they don’t know who the Prophet really is.  This Yu’shaa may not even be him.  Hamner mentions the data on Coruscant checks out.  He’s considering this a viable mission with Corran and Tahiri.
 
Corran knew about the mission, but not that Tahiri was coming along.  Hamner reminds him that she speaks their language and knows their ways.  They have a captured Vong ship that she should be able to fly.  Corran wants to back out and Han insists she’s taking a stupid risk.
 
Tahiri thinks they all take risks in life.  They can’t allow the war to keep going or it will end only when one side is exterminated.  That’s why Luke and Jacen went to Zonama Sekot in the first place.  Leia reminds her that this could be another Jedi trap.
 
Corran tells her that he will do what he has to do to fix things if this Prophet isn’t what he seems.  Luke should be consulted here, but the HoloNet is out in his sector again.  A team has gone to check the relay again.
 
Corran would prefer to do this alone.  Tahiri accuses him of not trusting her.  He points out that she was impulsive even before her capture and nearly cost him his life a couple of times.  He also admits that he’s concerned she won’t act against the Yuuzhan Vong with force if the situation requires it. 
 
She reminds him that this isn’t about them verses the Yuuzhan Vong.  Not everyone in their culture wants this war and culture can change.  That’s what this mission is about.  Han decides he’s going with them, but Kenth would prefer they stay here for the new offensive.  Corran agrees to go instead.
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#11
Jedi Cool

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Part II: Passage:
 
chapter 10:
 
Corran and Tahiri utilize the holes in Coruscant’s planetary defenses to land in the water and take the tunnels toward their rendezvous point.  At some point, they realize that the drainage tunnels are being replaced with organic material. 
 
Based on what she knows of Yuuzhan Vong technology, she thinks they may be using a giant maw luur.  To Corran, this means they are moving up a huge digestive tract and wants out of here.  A huge slam rocks the ship and Tahiri thinks this might be too late.
 
Corran tells her to fire the plasma cannon.  The pressure and heat caused by the blast and pushes them free.  However, the tube starts sucking them up.  The dovin basals would normally counter that, but they don’t seem to be working right now.
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#12
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chapter 11:
 
She confirms it’s not exactly dead, but just damaged.  The sucking is pulling them faster and they will eventually get caught somewhere.  They burst into a sphere of water where tentacles start whipping by them.  She sends a gentle command to the dovin basal which reaches out and diverts them to the right stream.
 
Then they crash into the rim of the tube, sending them spinning.  He gives her direction through the tubes while she urges the weakened basal to make the right turns. They eventually emerge at a cooling tower that doesn’t seem to have been replaced with a huge creature.  They leave the ship and set out on foot.
 
Coruscant’s underworld is covered with growths.  Tahiri can’t imagine people lived here without benefit of sunlight or sky.  Corran asks if that’s Tahiri or Riina talking.  She assures him neither would like this environment.  Tahiri grew up in the wide open spaces of Tatooine and Yavin IV. Riina grew up on a worldship.
 
He points out that Riina grew up nowhere, but was created in a laboratory.  She asks if that really makes a differences.  If he found out some of his memories of Mirax were implanted, would that make her less real to him. He tells her that’s not going to work with him.  She has implanted memories created in a lab. Tahiri asks why he’s pushing this issue now.
 
Corran says none of his worries were really resolved before leaving Mon Cal.  He doesn’t know who she is and worries there might be something sleeping in her, waiting to wake up.  She can’t be sure of that either.
 
She is neither Tahiri nor Riina, has no voices in her head and is a new and different person from either of them.  He shouldn’t be afraid of Riina, but of Tahiri, the girl who was trained as a Jedi.  The person she has become was not.
 
They come across the garbage pit which is their rendezvous point and wait for the Prophet.
 
Kunra soon arrives and explains he has come first to make sure everything is safe.  He is honored to meet the Jedi-Who-Was-Shaped and the Slayer of Shedao Shai.  The Prophet appears behind him.  Tahiri instantly knows he’s wearing an ooglish masquer.
 
While Corran describes their adventures up til now, she watches the Prophet carefully.  He explains that they will be bringing a shaper along with them.  She is closely watched by Shimrra, but her position allowed her to find out about Zonama Sekot.  The Yuuzhan Vong are from another galaxy, so a world that produces biological material akin to theirs is unusual.  It is not spoken of in any of their legends. 
 
Corran asks if he is sure she won’t betray them as she’s part of Shimrra’s inner circle.  The Prophet points out that that she is unlikely to survive once her work for Shimrra is done.  He fears knowledge of this world.
 
Corran isn’t happy to find out that they will have to break her out of Shimrra’s compound.  Tahiri asks why he is wearing a masquer.  The Prophet explains it’s for his people.  He will not remove it until they are redeemed.
 
Tahiri is familiar with sects in the past that use sutured masquers as part of their rituals.  In this time and place, though, she doesn’t like it.   She and Corran take a moment alone.  Tahiri admits it could just be a reflexive dislike of Shamed Ones, but there’s something about the Prophet she doesn’t like.
 
Neither can determine if he’s telling the truth.  They decide there are easier ways to kill them than this, so they’ll find out more about the plan.
 
Yu’shaa tells them there are hidden ways into the palace where they must make their way to the shaper compound.  Though she has a ship, the shaper requires some kind of defense to escape.  Corran understands that she wants to make this look like a kidnapping.
 
The plan is to have the Shamed Ones cause disturbances to distract the guards, though it will likely cause their deaths.  Corran is unwilling to let that happen.  He has an idea that might buy them an edge.
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#13
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chapter 12:
 
Tahiri feels weak when she sees the palace of the Overlord.  Yu’shaa points the way to the damutek and tells them to wait for the ruse to begin.  Corran isn’t convinced it will be as easy as going into the front door.
 
Yu’shaa will meet them at a shrine to Yun-Hala.
 
Nom Anor has a contingency plan if this doesn’t work.  It is, however, disturbing that Corran Horn is on this mission as he’s not one to trust easily.  There will be problems if he figures out who Yu’shaa really is.  Then there’s Tahiri Veila who knows entirely too much about Yuuzhan Vong culture to be fooled.
 
He wonders if he shouldn’t go through with this, but he has to because his influence is waning since the death of Ngaaluh.  Shimrra is being extra vigilant about spies in his court.  His supporters aren’t increasing because too many are getting killed.  He needs new allies.
 
When the explosion goes off, warriors run toward the source and hit a mob of  Shamed Ones.  Tahiri knows this won’t last long.  The warriors spot brown cloaks and poles of light and start chasing Shamed Ones bearing light-plants that actually grow on the ground beneath them.  Their superiors won’t like them abandoning their posts for this.
 
Finding that the damutek belongs to domain Kwaad, Tahiri is able to get the door opened quickly. 
 
Nen Yim is told that there is a disturbance outside.  She has the laboratories secured and knows this is it.  After grabbing what she needs, she heads toward the Sekotan ship.   Two humans burst into the room, engaging warriors.
 
When the blond one looks at her, Nen Yim realizes she’s come to kill her.  Tahiri asks why she would think that when Nen Yim tortured her and turned her brain inside out.  However, she knows they’ve come for her.  The shaper admits she wants to see Zonama Sekot.  For now, Tahiri will leave her be but they will speak again of this before they reach the planet.
 
While Corran makes cuts on the bodies of warriors Nen killed so that they would not look like wounds from a shaper hand, Tahiri takes on three newly-arrived warriors and is impaled by an amphistaff.  She tries to pull it out, but drops as the head of the warrior who injured her is cut off from behind him.
 
Corran helps her up and takes her to the ship.
 
It is Nen Yim who must oversee their flight from the damutek.  She sets the ship down by the shrine and picks up the Prophet.  Harrar jumps aboard, as well. Corran is at a loss to prevent these additions. 
 
In space, he has to yell at her not to jump this close to the planet.  It turns out she’s never flown before.
 
He moves to show her how to make short jumps, but she’s not particularly cooperative.  When a skip hits them, he can sense the ship cry out.  It exists in the Force. He thought this was a new model of Yuuzhan Vong vessel.
 
She tells him it’s a hybrid of machine and organic.  She hid the machine controls because they were abominations.  He rips off the covering and finds controls he can deal with.  He tells her to get back and see to Tahiri.
 
The ship moves like nothing he’s never flown before.  It cries out when injured, but heals itself, too.  He finally leaves Coruscant’s gravity pull and jumps to hyperspace.
 
Nen Yim is telling Harrar that the girl will live, but she is weak and it’s too early to tell if her arm will be any good.  Harrar explains that Shimrra has gone to great lengths to hide this planet from them and he wants to know why. 
 
Corran asks what kind of ship this is.  The Prophet explains it’s from Zonama Sekot.  They will be returning to that world in a ship that belongs to it.  Corran speaks up and mentions that they aren’t going to Zonama Sekot.
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#14
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chapter 13:
 
This mission was contingent upon the voyage including only the Prophet.  Now, it includes a shaper and a priest that he knows nothing about.  Under the circumstances, he’s not taking them anywhere near the planet.
 
Harrar points out that, while the Prophet is already hunted, he and Nen Yim risk a great deal on this journey.  Corran suggests that this could have been planned by Shimrra.  He has only their word that it’s not.  He cannot bring three Yuuzhan Vong to a world that their people have already attacked while Jedi are there negotiating with it.
 
Yu’shaa suggests he contact the other Jedi and discuss it with them.  After all, the end of the war will only come with the cooperation of both sides.  Tahiri annoys Corran by agreeing with them. In private, he points out that they are outnumbered and he doesn’t want them thinking he and she are divided.
 
She suggests they go to Mon Calamari and ask the Council’s advice.  Corran tells them that’s where he will tell them they’re going.  They are really going to Zonama Sekot.  He wanted to see how they’d react.
 
She admits she doesn’t like the priest who hasn’t admitted to being a heretic like the shaper and the Prophet.  They should continue the mission, though, because it’s important and they have Harrar outnumbered anyway.  They may not know his plans, but he wants to reach the planet just like they do.
 
Tahiri goes to see Nen Yim later, telling her that she is not human or Yuuzhan Vong.  Nen isn’t impressed by this.  It was Mezhan Kwaad’s fault this happened. Tahiri asks if there is nothing in her but duty.
 
Nen tells her the last time she looked upon the stars was on the old worldship which was ripping apar one of the arms because the brain was failing.  She saw the vaccum of space and swore she would save it.  She practiced heresy to do it and still failed.  The people might have lived if Tahiri’s friends hadn’t killed the new worldship they were going to move to.
 
She has hated Jedi for what they have done, but she has stepped back from that because it is necessary to see things as they are.  The riddle of Zonama Sekot may solve the question of their existence and the Jedi seem to be involved.
 
As for Tahiri, Mezhan Kwaad too openly flaunted her heresy and her incompetent shaping of Tahiri doomed her.  Nen Yim used to hate her, but doesn’t now because she didn’t know what she was doing.
 
Tahiri admits she knew she was killing Mezhan Kwaad, but she has learned to reconcile her two peoples now.  She seeks an end to the war.  Nen Yim would like the same, recognizing the warriors are pointlessly throwing away their lives for far more worlds than they need.  She sometimes suspects Shimrra is mad.
 
She thinks Tahiri should convince Corran to take them to Zonama Sekot.  Tahiri explains the issue with the priest who is not a heretic.  Nen Yim admits he’s a highly-placed member of the priesthood, but heresy threatens his caste.  This is his opportunity to study different types of heretics so he can understand his enemy.  Another part of him is angry that Shimrra has kept the existence of this planet a secret.  Though she cannot say what will happen when they reach Zonama Sekot, she suspects he plans their deaths. 
 
She wants to learn more about him, about Shimrra’s detractors and, of course, to keep an eye on him.  Tahiri asks if there’s a way to know if he has a tracer on him. Yim tells her that she has released an organism that attacks and kills anything like that.  If anyone on the ship has such a device implanted in them, they will become ill.
 
Four days later, no one becomes ill.  That doesn’t mean anything because they can’t really trust that Nen Yim released a virus.  Harrar approaches them and asks when they are arriving at Mon Calamari.  Corran decides it’s time to tell them and asks where the Prophet is. 
 
The ship screams.
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#15
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chapter 14:
 
Qelah Kwaad is brought before Shimrra who congratulates her on her shaping of the mabugat kan which have disrupted the infidels’ long-range communications. She will be elevated to master the next day to work under Ahsi Yim.
 
Qelah lets him know that she has developed a new sort of ship that may counter some of the new strategies brought against them by the enemies, as well as a bioform that is designed for use against the Jedi.
 
She also mentions that Nen Yim spent a great deal of time alone, working on a secret project that none of the adepts knew about.  When the Jedi came and took her, she overheard Ahsi Yim say privately that they took the ship.  She didn’t seem surprised at any of this.  The damutek’s defenses failed and it’s unlikely the Jedi or a mob of Shamed Ones could have disabled it without a trace of how.  In truth, she hadn’t heard Ahsi Yim say anything but is really hoping to cast doubt on her so she can be Master Shaper.
 
Shimrra interrogates her to find out what she knows about the ship. Quelah insists she heard nothing beyond the fact that it exists.  He sends her away until tomorrow when she returns to get her master’s hand, never seeing Ahsi Yim again.
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#16
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chapter 15:
 
The ship is pulled out of hyperspace by an Imperial Interdictor.  They are in a ship that looks very much like a Vong vessel so it does explain why they are being fired upon.  Stillthey can’t talk to it and can’t fight it. 
 
Nen Yim is reluctant to hand over military secrets, but does admit there’s a variant of a shaping that one of her apprentices created that she was going to use against any pursuing ships.  It might work on the interdictor.
 
Tahiri lays in a microjump as soon as the gravitic anomaly fails.
 
Harrar questions why Corran wasn’t honest from the beginning that they were headed to Zonama Sekot.  The Prophet understands that it was to see how they would react, to see if they would try to force him to take them. 
 
The next jump brings them to the fringe of an unknown star system. Tahiri tells Nen Yim that every system is different and discuss the merits of belief.  Nen Yim’s master did not believe in the gods.  She thinks there must be some truth behind them even if they do not exist in the orthodox sense. 
 
Tahiri believes they are a misunderstanding of the Force.  Nen Yim isn’t ready to go that far.  It’s obvious the Jedi draw on an energy field to perform their tricks, but she doesn’t think it has a will of its own.  Otherwise, the Yuuzhan Vong would exist within it.
 
Tahiri suggests that the Force may be bigger than that.  Nen agrees.  Their gods and the Force may be part of a larger mystery that encompasses them all.  Tahiri knows that this was something that Anakin believed.
 
Nen Yim has a place to at least start her ponderings.  She also wants Tahiri to let Corran know that the dovin basals are dying.
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#17
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chapter 16:
 
The Mon Mothma heads toward Bilbringi.  Wedge is reminded by Lieutenant Cel that he fought there against Grand Admiral Thrawn.  She was ten at the time.  He feels a bit old, but reminds the officer that he didn’t get anywhere near Thrawn and it was almost a defeat.
 
He admired the Grand Admiral because he was a different kind of enemy than he’d ever fought.  He expects the Vong would be ground underneath him if Thrawn had had any examples of their art. 
 
That was a long time ago.  Pellaeon was serving with Thrawn at the time and Pash Cracken was just another starfighter pilot rather than a general in charge of Memory of Ithor.  Wedge muses that Pellaeon has always had a subdued opinion of himself which is why he’s lasted longer than the inflated egos that usually mark Imperial commanders.
 
She hopes they don’t get surprised at Bilbringi again. Wedge promises he will never come back here if they are.
 
Fortunately, nothing unusual greets them when they arrive.  Some of the shipyard structures are still there, but the Yuuzhan Vong are growing their fleet in a nearby asteroid belt. 
 
Wedge banters with Pash for a moment before the Vong move in with two interdictors that will keep them in the system. He is preparing to send coordinates to Pellaeon and Kre’fey when he’s told the entire HoloNet is down. 
 
He turns to Cel and tells her that he’s had it with Bilbringi.
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  • Pash Cracken was last seen in the The Last Command and last mentioned in I, Jedi

 
 


#18
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chapter 17:
 
At Mon Calamari, Han looks unhappily at the beautiful sunset.  Leia reminds him they cannot fight every battle of the war.  He’s been brooding ever since Jaina and Tahiri left.  Jaina is a starfighter pilot and won’t like it if they shoe horn their way into Bilbringi.  Corran will watch over Tahiri.  She knows, however, that he’s just bored.
 
She knows the hardest thing to do in war is to wait.
 
Droma contacts him later to tell him something is up.  The Vong are up to something utilizing unpiloted drones with an unknown purposes.  They’re trying to track them now.
 
He and Leia arrive in a tense war room where Admiral Sovv tells them Antilles’ group is about to come out of hyperspace.  Sovv is told that Pellaeon hasn’t reported in yet.  The HoloNet relay in the area is down.
 
A quick transmission reports the arrival at another relay where small ships that may be Vong have appeared.  Then the HoloNet goes dead.
 
Sovv and Bel Iblis are able to determine that this started some time ago with small relay stations and not the ones closest to Bilbringi.  It seems designed to stymie them wherever they were going to strike.
 
The other ships have orders to wait for Antilles’ go-ahead before they jump.  When he notices his communications are down, he’ll retreat as ordered.  Han suggests he may not be able to, especially if the Vong use interdictors.  He recommends using ships as couriers and for that, it means they have to find the backup fleets quickly to reestablish lines of communication.
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#19
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chapter 18:
 
Nen Yim tells Corran the basals were damaged by the Imperial ship and by repeated jumps.  She didn’t know this for several passes.  Tahiri thinks the ship is rejecting the engines because it’s getting closer to Zonama Sekot. 
 
They don’t really know this, but Corran and Tahiri can feel the connection getting stronger.  He thinks he can get them to the system with one more jump. 
 
The stars blink out just as they revert to realspace as if the ship were making a microjump of its own.  Corran can feel the pull dragging the ship home to Zonama Sekot.  They are down to one engine.  Tahkri tries to raise Luke but she can only sense the planet.
 
Hararr suggests this isn’t the right planet, but Yu’shaa insists it is.  He can feel it.
 
The planet brings them in on a landing vector that Corran really can’t control.  He warns everyone to prepare to land hard.  He and Tahiri feel Sekot’s powerful immensity before they fall.
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#20
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Part III: Transfiguration:
 
chapter 19:
 
Han is getting tired of being pulled out by Vong interdictors when Leia points out that this one is Imperial.  Captain Mynar Devis hails them.  He explains that Grand Admiral Pellaeon put interdictors on all major routes leading to the fleet.  It appears that there’s something wrong with the HoloNet relays.
 
Han confirms that there’s a systemwide problem.  Devis explains they sent a courier out but had an incident not long ago where they pulled a ship out of hyperspace that appeared to be organic in nature.  It didn’t match known Vong profiles, though.  The courier returned and told them to hold position.
 
Han asks him to send another one to tell the Grand Admiral they’re going to check out what’s wrong with Antilles’s group.  Devis offers a TIE escort in case the situation is hot when they get to Bilbringi.
 
It turns out he himself is flying one of the TIEs as interdiction duty is boring.
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  • First appearance of Devis.

 


#21
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chapter 20:
 
Nen Yim is stunned when she sets foot on Zonama Sekot.  The first time she’d stood on a real world it had been Yavin IV.  To all appearances, this world isn’t much different and yet it is in all ways. This place feels right to her as the worldship on which she had grown up on never had.
 
The Prophet and Harrar are equally gaping.  She soon realizes that Yu’shaa is following her.  He wants to assist her. 
 
Corran wants Tahiri to stick close to Nen Yim while he’s going to try to convince the Prophet and Harrar to come with him.  Harrar objects strongly to Corran using saplings from this living world to build them a shelter.  Corran reminds him that this respect for life apparently didn’t apply to Belkdan or Ithor.
 
Still, he admits he should have been more sensitive and decides to look for a cave or something.   Nen Yim tells him that she is going to collect specimens and Yu’shaa is coming with her.  Tahiri invites herself along.
 
Nom Anor notes that Nen Yim hasn’t really picked up anything at all, despite hours of collecting.  He does realize that Shimrra was right to fear this world.  His companions have the same affinity for Zonama Sekot as he does.  He’d made his prophecy based on legends and rumors, but hadn’t believed it himself.
 
The legends, of course, made the world taboo.  He wonders if his people battled the planet at some point and lost.  Had Shimrra known about this?  Shamed Ones will flock to him now that his prophecy has been proven true.
 
Nen Yim gasps when she recognizes a near relative of a lim tree.  She demands to know about this vision he had about the planet.  He claims to have seen it shining like a beacon in the skies of Yuuzhan’tar.
 
Of course, all prophecy is up to interpretation, but he does believe that this planet will redeem all of them.  He doesn’t know if the vision came from the gods or the planet.  She goes back to the lim tree.  It was a plant on the homeworld and is extinct now, its code saved only in the qahsa.  It’s impossible that one could be here. Yet there are so many plants here that are linked to their biota, but only this tree corresponds to someone from their own world.  Anor suggests that Commander Val might have left one behind.
 
She tells him that the quasa for the lim tree she had grown in her quarters hadn’t been accesse for a thousand years.  He compliments her work and her passion, expressing his wish that he knew more about her field.
 
She is willing to teach him, handing him the qahsa to record what she says.
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#22
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chapter 21:
 
They’ve traveled for some time with no signs of civilization.  It’s hard to travel, though, when you can’t take your eye off your traveling partner.  When Corran and Harrar spot a large ridge with overhangs, they go to make sure no one has already claimed it.
 
Hararr asks if his home is like this.  Corran tells him it’s not like this exactly.  There are forests and trees, but it is still civilized.  Nevertheless, it is not covered with cities like Coruscant was.
 
Harrar knows that Corran dueled Shedao Shai for the life of the planet Ithor.  Yet, the world had no strategic value.  He doesn’t understand why Corran would do it.  Corran tells him that he couldn’t stand aside and let the world be poisoned, he had a vendetta against Shai for murdering a friend who was only trying to make peace and because it was one of the most beautiful planets in the galaxy populated by peaceful people.
 
Harrar knows what Corran risked because of it.  It’s a famous story and Corran’s treatment at the end is what inspired Shimrra to try to turn the galaxy against the Jedi.  It was very easy to do and not just because people were frightened.  Harrar speculates that many were jealous and resented the power of the Jedi because some misuse it.
 
Corran tells him that it wasn’t the Jedi who were misunderstood, but the Vong.  The civilian population hadn’t realized that they were willing to poison a planet to get what they wanted or that the Vong weren’t going to stop under they’d enslaved the whole galaxy.
 
They thought the Jedi had provoked the Yuuzhan Vong and that the planet had been destroyed because Corran killed Shai.  They didn’t realize it was in spite of it.
 
Harrar doesn’t understand how people who value Ithor so much could build such an abomination as Coruscant.  Corran doesn’t understand why a species that values life would destroy a beautiful world.
 
Harrar admits there’s a contradiction there, but he thinks it’s because killing is part of life.  All life ends.  That’s evident even here in this forest where animals eat both plants and other animals.   He wasn’t upset that Corran cut down saplings earlier because he felt it was wrong for him to do so, but because he feared the planet might retaliate against them because they are outsiders.  However, even though all life dies, it also goes on.  Yuuzhan Vong technology continues life, as they replace it within something else.  The machine technology of this galaxy does not.
 
Corran asks where the contradiction is if Vong technology replaced Ithor’s ecosystem.  Harrar tells him that, in his heart, he knows the destruction of the planet was wrong.
 
But that is the contradiction in his people.  He’d like to understand the contradiction in Corran’s.
 
Corran tells him that they aren’t really one people.  There are many diverse viewpoints with extremists on both sides and most somewhere in between.  Here, technology coexists with organic life.  Harrar doesn’t think that Zonama Sekot, whatever it means to his people, can ever bring peace between these two viewpoints.
 
He does notice a trio of metal vanes nearby and asks Corran about them.  Corran knows exactly what they are, but puts off looking into it so they can move their gear up here for the night.
 
The Yuuzhan Vong won’t like it, though.
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#23
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chapter 22:
 
Hyperwave is not ideal, but it gives Wedge the ability to transmit battle plans to his commanders.  The Yuuzhan Vong forces start dropping away from the fight. They are about evenly matched now.
 
He’s not sure what they are up to.  The retreating ships jump into hyperspace, despite the interdictors.  Wedge realizes that they think this is a feint just like Duro and are sending their ships elsewhere. 
 
It is clear the Vong pilots have learned from the strategies adapted by the Galactic Alliance.  Wedge orders his starfighters to drop formation as needed.
 
Jaina is furious when she realizes that the Vong are utilizing one of her father’s tactics.  The skips are screaming in at twice their usual speed.  Alema Rar asks if this is a new type of skip. 
 
Clumps tear past Wraith Squadron and toward Twin Suns’ escort of Mon Mothma.   When they get a look at the skips, however, they find tails on them. Jaina realizes they are dropping grutchins.
 
Wedge orders the hull electrified when 200 grutchins are detected on the Mon Mothma.  He’s informed they’ve already tried that so he has the outer sections sealed off and the crew in vac suits.
 
The starfighters are to make runs close to the capital ships to singe the things off with exhaust. 
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#24
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chapter 23:
 
Nin Yim notes Yu’shaa is having trouble.  He tells her the qahsa will not grant him admittance.  He was just trying to enter the signatures she asked him to do.  She realizes that it is not keyed to him and rejects his entry after a time.  She resets his access.
 
She could key him to the whole qahsa but that would give him greater access than he needs. However he has proved himself useful and only someone familiar with shaper arts could understand what’s there.  She decides to go ahead and do it so she can be free with other things.
 
Harrar asks if she’s uncovered anything yet.  She tells him that he had not wanted to engineer her escape lest it be noticed, yet he came along.  She wonders if that won’t be noticed, too.
 
Harrar tells her he is believed to be meditating on the conquest in the Outer Rim. His ship is there so he should not be missed.  Since her escape was made to look like an abducation, their trails are covered well.
 
Nen Yim doesn’t think it’s that well and that she will be executed when she returns.  Her people must know what has been discovered here.  Harrar points out that Shimrra has repressed news of this planet for a long time. 
 
She will find a way.  Harrar is impressed that she is not seeking personal gain here.  In their culture, there is so much competition.  He had hoped a common enemy would unit them and, while it has to a degree, the old habits still remain.
 
They both agree that competition breeds strength, but only to a point, without cooperation.  That is the lesson of Zonama Sekot.
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#25
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chapter 24
 
Jaina and Rar, Twin Two, make another run at the Mon Mothma to spray exhaust on the hull to remove the grutchins attached to it.
 
Wedge isn’t sure what they’ll find out here in this junkyard, but they have to find ships as they can’t grow them like their enemy.  Lt. Cel reports that they seem to have overlooked a Golan station.
 
Wedge contacts Jaina to tell her the HoloNet is down.  It won’t be noticed as it was supposed to be cover for the attack.  He needs her to get Admiral Kre’fey and have him get Admiral Pellaeon.  
 
They’ve found a Golan II station that needs to be made operational in case they need a place to rally.  He wants Jaina to take her squadron there with the exception of one flight to get Kre’fey.
 
Jaina can’t get past the notion that Wedge may just be trying to get her out of harm’s way, but she does as ordered and tells the Scimitars they are on their own.
 
Jag doesn’t like being asked to leave, especially since Jaina cannot tell him exactly what’s going on.  She and her two flights cover Jag’s flight as he heads to Kre’fey’s position.  Then they head to the Golan.
 
Pursued by skips, Jaina tells the rest of her squadron that she is going to head to the docking bay of the Golan and the rest of them will cover here and punch out of the system when they get there.  Hopefully, the skips will think she punched out with them.
 
It doesn’t work.  The skips stay hot on her tail and she knows that, even if she reaches the docking bay, they won’t be fooled.  Suddenly, beams emit from the Golan and shields appear.  Twin Three tells her she can tell Antilles that the station is operational.
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