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"The Unifying Force": Book 19 in The New Jedi Order

chapter discussion thread

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#26
Jedi Cool

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chapter 27:
 
Kyp looks around the yammosk basin, the ruined blorash jelly and thinks he’s seeing the effects of Alpha Red.  Lando admits he doesn’t know what this is.  Kyp explains that it is the name of a virus engineered by Chiss scientists and NRI to wipe out Yuuzhan Vong lifeforms. 
 
The first batch was refined a year ago and tested in secret.  It might have been deployed then if not for the victory at Ebaq 9 and Vergere who destroyed the weapon.  Neither Page nor Meloque knew anything about it, but Wraw admits that the Alliance command wanted it field tested.
 
Han realizes this is why Caluula’s governor allowed the peaceful surrender. Wraw points out that the mission is the same.  They were to kill the yammosk and they did.  The shaper and her warriors are going to take the bioweapon to Yuuzhan’tar and it will spread to other occupied worlds. 
 
Meloque points out that the virus killed the winged-stars.  This means that Alpha Red doesn’t only affect the Yuuzhan Vong.  If the shaper and her entourage reach Coruscant, the entire galaxy is at risk.
 
Karrde contacts Crev Bombossa and tells him to have Booster destroy every Vong ship in the area.  He’s assured that Booster is doing just that. Only one ship got out and it was not like one they’ve seen before.  It jumped to hyperspace.  Han hopes the crew dies before it reverts.
 
On the Ralroost, Kre’fey is told that the Second and Third Fleets have repositioned to Mon Eron and Grand Admiral Pelleon is taking Right to Rule there. Two Hapan groups have arrived to reinforce Mon Calamari.
 
The secondary flotilla of Yuuzhan Vong ships that left unexpectedly is still travling Coreward.  Kre’fey realizes that Caluula and Toong’l are not fallback positions at all.  Choka just wanted to clear the transit points of mines so that the tranceiving ships could be destroyed by the second flotilla when they withdrawed.  But that doesn’t tell him where they are going.
 
He couldn’t have learned about Coruscant or the Alpha Red test on Caluula, but he might have learned about Contruum.  His aide tells him that the situation at Contruum has become unstable because of the uncertainties here.  Several task forces are leaving.
 
Kre’fey gets on the comm. and tells his fleet that they have no way of knowing what the Yuuzhan Vong plan is.  However, they will scatter the fleet, protect Mon Calamari and Contruum.  Coruscant will have to wait.
 
Nas Choka will fight to the last ship, but he knows Kre’fey will not.  Suddenly, the armada pulls in its tentacles and jumps to hyperspace on a Coreward trajectory. He realizes this is another deception.  Kre’fey wants reports immediately on any reversions to real space.
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#27
Jedi Cool

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chapter 28:
 
Nom Anor waits out the outcome of the battle at Mon Calamari by taking a nap.  He is awakened when the room shakes and coral rains down on the floor.  He crawls to the balcony and sees everything outside in motion.  A huge planet is taking up the sky.  The rainbow bridge has vanished.
 
He’d like to believe this is just a dream, but the Shamed Ones celebrating below only reinforce the notion that Zonama Sekot has returned.  Against all odds, everything he had prophesied was coming true.
 
Prefect Drathul appears and demands to know what Anor knows of this.  Those who would have followed Qoreal’s admonitions know that he has the Overlord’s ear.  This is the living world discovered by Commander Krashmir and rediscovered by Commander Ehk’m Val.  One need onl to see the heretics prostrate while everyone else runs to know this.
 
Anor admits it is a living world, but it has nothing to do with prophecy.  He tried to prevent its arrival on Shimrra’s command.  The only thing Drathul can do is pray that the planet has come in peace.
 
Nas Choka is told that the planet appeared suddenly in the system, scattering the moons and taking down the rainbow bridge.  He orders no ships to engage it for now.  When the armada returns, he will determine the best course of action. 
 
He had heard rumors of this planet when he had helped oust Quoreal who feared the warrior caste.  They had dismissed the rumor, believing the priests just wanted to steer the worldships away from this galaxy.  Shimrra had understood that the warriors needed a war and that the Yuuzhan Vong needed a home.
 
Now the living world is upon them.  It’s possible that this is a secret weapon the Alliance was engineering when they were rushing around the galaxy before the battle at Mon Calamari.  Whatever it is, the Alliance waited too long to spring the attack.
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#28
Jedi Cool

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Part III: A Time to Every Purpose:
 
chapter 29:
 
The Millennium Falcon returned to Mon Calamari in time to hear from Luke and Mara.  The transmission was garbled and brief, coming from the Jade Shadow.  Han had summarized all the events that led to the confusing end to the battle at Mon Calamari while Luke confirmed that they have ridden Zonama Sekot back to known space, promising to explain more when they arrive.
 
Leia had stopped to meet with Cal Omas to explain what Alpha Red had done on Caluula which had shaken Omas to the core.  The Vong vessel that evaded Errant Venture has not appeared and it is hoped that it expired in hyperspace.  That was seven days ago.
 
The Falcon takes the long way to Coruscant while the Galactic Alliance command ponders what the arrival of a living planet means.  Though it was expected that the Vong armada would storm the planet, that hasn’t happened yet and spies are reporting fear and confusion on the planet. 
 
The Falcon carries several Jedi, while Errant Venture carries others and the pilots take their starfighters.  Luke welcomes them to Zonama Sekot, telling them they will have to leave their ships in orbit as Sekot will not allow warships on the surface.
 
Leia feels like a child again when she sets foot on this world and sees the rest of her family.  She tells Han this place is the safe harbor tht she’s been dreaming about for months.  But she’s sad for everyone who has been lost.  They are coming to the end of a long voyage and she knows that there is additional violence that’s going to take them there.
 
She wonders if Anakin Skywalker realized this when he saved Luke.  She knows her grandmother felt this way and has the feeling her mother did, too.  She wonders if Jacen is right and that violence is never the answer.
 
Luke introduces them to Jabitha who is going to grow living ships for some of the Jedi and indicates that Harrar is going to help them end the war.
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#29
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chapter 30:
 
The Shamed One reminds the heretics how Yu’shaa urged them to look to the sky for signs.  Their new home is here.  The Prophet will appear soon to lead them to salvation. Non Anor, on a litter nearby, lowers his head as he passes by.
 
The shapers are already speciulating that the newcomer planet will tug Yuuzhan’tar asway from its primary and reversing what the dovin basals have done.  He can’t even really think of this planet as anything other than Coruscant, with its ferrocret, transparisteel underside that make all Vong-growth just a fancy ooglith masquer. 
 
Downlevels, machines still operate and even the workers are beginning to realize this planet could never really belong to the Yuuzhan Vong.  No one really seems to know what is going on, except, of course, for the Shamed Ones who are preaching what Nom Anor himself inspired.
 
Of course, they can’t expect to be allowed to stay on Coruscant or this new living world.  They will be packed off on dying worldships or, at least, return to their lot in life.  But they’d at least be alive. 
 
At the Citadel, Nom Anor prostrates himself before Shimrra.  The Overlord tells him that the gods have failed him.  It seems evident that everything that has happened is due to the work of a god.  There is no denying what Zonama Sekot represents.  This is an act of war on the part of the gods.
 
If they destroy Zonama Sekot, they will destroy the Jedi and the gods themselves.  He is to instruct the priests that they are to devote all their labors to venerating Yun-Harla.  Nom Anor is speechless.  Shimrra explains that the other gods are jealous because Yun-Harla has played a role in all their setbacks.  She is conceited. The gods will be set against each other and, while their attention is on themselves, the Yuuzhan Vong will devastate Zonama Sekot.
 
Even Onimi is looking at Shimrra with some misgivings.  Nom Anor realizes that all is lost and all he wants to do is disappear.
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#30
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chapter 31:
 
Errant Venture reaches Contruum with no issues.  In the docking bay is Lady Luck, Wild Karrde, Jade Shadow and dozens of starfighters. Booster tells Luke to put in a good word with Wedge so he doesn’t have to sit this one out.
 
In the Ralroost’s war room, the Jedi are greeted by the Alliance command, Admiral Pellaeon and Tenel Ka.  By holo, Chief of State Omas is joined by his Advisory Council.
 
Omas tells them that they are moving the combined fleets to Corulag in order to strike at Coruscant.  Luke points out they will provoke a response from the Yuuzhan Vong.  With Coruscant in turmoil, the military is divided on what to do.  He thinks they should allow that to continue in the hopes that Shimrra will be brought down from within.
 
Kre’fey doesn’t fear Shimrra so much as the armada.  They will lose whatever advantage they have if they don’t strike now.  Luke warns them that Shimrra can convince the World Brain to make the world uninhabitable.  Sovv points out that nothing they have seen confirms that.
 
They all know that whoever controls Coruscant controls the Core.  Luke tells them that it’s not in the Yuuzhan Vong nature to surrender.  Kre’fey wants to know what Luke would do instead. 
 
Kenth Hamner thinks they should reclaim Bothawui, Bilbringi and other essential worlds while the Vong are preoccupied with the heretics.  After that, move against Coruscant.  Sovv points out that some Vong battle groups haven’t returned to the Core as per their orders.  They will fight for the systems they’ve conquered.  Luke argues that it’s only because they fear Zonama Sekot.
 
Fifty years ago, the Yuuzhan Vong first attempted to claim the planet and it fought them off.  It figures in their religion as an omen of defeat.  The Shamed Ones view it as their salvation.  The real danger is the signal it sends to the elite that this is divine intervention in Shimrra’s galaxy-wide invasion.
 
Admiral Pellaeon notes that there is some information leading them to believe that Grand Moff Tarkin once expressed interest in the planet’s shipbuilding ability. Luke advises that the planet will not grow warships. 
 
However, he does agree that inducing the Vong to attack it may cause a distraction that allows them to retake Coruscant. 
 
Tycho Celchu bursts in to tell them that Winter has contacted him with news that Admiral Ackbar has died.
 
The Jedi gather seed partners.  Kyp and Saba have five a piece.  Corran has four.  Kyle, Lowie, Alema and the others have two.  It’s said that Anakin Skywalker bonded with more than anyone else ever had. 
 
Jaina is considering her options when Jacen approaches her.  He knows she’s disappointed because none of the seed partners bonded with her.  She tells him that she’s as good a pilot as the others.  Jacen tells her that piloting skills don’t have anything to do with it or her connection to the Force.  Sekot must have some other purpose for her.
 
She asks if the Vong are a threat to the Force.  He admits they may be a threat to the Jedi, but beings will always find a way to the Force.  He’s starting to think that the Force is only one facet of a gemstone. 
 
The Yuuzhan Vong are not outside the Force.  They’ve been stripped of it.  If Jacen had the answer for what the Force wants from them, he’d have the answer to winning the war.
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#31
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chapter 32:
 
Shimrra fumes at how his subjects are cowering on the eve of victory.  He sent forces to search out this world before they came to this galaxy and couldn’t find it. He assumed it was gone or a myth.  Now it is here. 
 
This is a test set before them by the gods.  He prayed to them for vision and saw in the eighth cortex how everything is balanced.  This is the way of the gods.  He heard a voice utter. 
 
Onimi recites a song about the gods making it seem like they are authorizing a great conflict when they will send a great amphistaff to send the stranger away. Shimrra believes this to be a revelation by Yun-Harla.  He ordered the temple priests to supplicate to her.  She has provided the solution to the test.
 
A small ship has arrived Yuuzhan’tar, broken, with a crew of afflected slayers and a dying shaper.  They fell prey to a virus engineered by their enemy.  He refused to let it sit down on Yuuzhan’tar or have contact with any of their vessels.  They will use this vessel to launch against the living world which must be vulnerable to the contagion.
 
The vessel is the amphistaff they will hurl at the stranger.  Nom Anor is continually deflated by the Overlord’s words.  Everyone who knew about this world knew that Krazhmir had tried to poison the planet and failed.  If such a virus existed, Nom Anor’s Peace Brigade spies would have learned of it.
 
Jacen practices his lightsaber while pondering what the Force wants for the Yuuzhan Vong.  He remembers the vision he’d had on Duro so long ago, when Luke fixed on a Yuuzhan Vong warrior.  Jacen had reached out for the lightsaber that Luke tossed him and missed.
 
That caused the galactic plane to tip toward darkness.  Luke had seized his hand and a voice urged Jacen to stand firm.
 
He’s had many experiences since that time and still feels like a student.  The Jedi of old were too focused on indoctrination and ranks.  Sometimes a Jedi just needs to hear directly from the Force. 
 
Sekot poses as Vergere to ask him what he hopes to achieve.  Jacen thinks it’s mastery.  Vergere tells him that he must surrender his desire to control events.  He must allow the Force to guide him, to carry out its commands and do what must be done no matter who tries to stand in his way.
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#32
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chapter 33:
 
At Corulag, Wedge tells himself that they are committed.  The enemy is launching against the GA forces.  Wedge’s uniform feels two sizes too small, especially in the wake of Admiral Ackbar’s death.
 
The moon itself is taking punishment.  It’s government had capitulated rather than fight and the citizens had taken up open rebellion against the puppet government. Its wealthiest citizens fled for Commenor and Kuat, the latter which had fallen after Senator Pwoe’s brief visit.  Resistance fighters on the world had reached out to the Alliance for help after the rescue of Judder Page.
 
The provisional governor contacts Wedge to thank him for his assistance.  Right now, the members of the occupation government have been dragged through the streets and hanged.  It reminds Wedge of the treatment of Imperial forces after the Emperor’s death.  
 
It’s hard for him to think what happens to the Yuuzhan Vong after the war.  They aren’t the type to tolerate imprisonment and Luke has made it clear that the wiping out of an entire race is not something the Jedi Order will tolerate.
 
Kre’fey comms him to tell him that their actions haven’t gone unnoticed.  They don’t know what Nas Choka is going to do now.  He might jump the armada to Contruum and they need to be gone when that happens.
 
He tells Wedge to head to Muscave.  Vanguard Squadron is with the Fourth Fleet which will be meeting him with the Third there.  Colonel Fel is commanding a combined Vanguard and Twin Suns for now.  Rogue and Wraith will fly escort for the troop transports they hope to slip through the gravity wells of Coruscant.  On planet, Page and his commandos will rendezvous with resistance forces.
 
Zonama Sekot is still out there, but that’s up to the Jedi to deal with.
 
Wedge contacts Errant Venture and tells Lando his orders.  He wants someone there to evacuate anyone from Zonama Sekot who needs to leave just in case.
 
Kyp, Corran and Saba have undergone the seed-partner ceremony and are still talking about it.  Luke relates the meeting at Contruum.  Jacen asks him if he told Kre’fey what will happen if they attack Coruscant.  Luke explains that most of the command staff don’t believe it will happen.
 
Jacen admits he wasn’t able to communicate with the World Brain while they were in the Unknown Regions and isn’t sure he has the same rapport with it now. Harrar suggests Shimrra has managed to do so.  Luke thinks they have to get to the Overlord first.
 
Harrar confirms that, without Shimrra, who is the conduit to the gods, the castes will be thrown into chaos.  It will be difficult, though.  It might be possible to infiltrate the citadel with everything else happening on Coruscant.  He offers to show them the best route.
 
Several Jedi enter to tell Luke that Corulag has been reclaimed, Wedge’s battle group has been sent to Muscave to lure the armada away from Coruscant.  Errant Venture is coming to evacuate anyone who needs to leave. 
 
Jabitha warns the ones for whom ships are being grown that they are for defense only.  Sekot will not flee and demonstrate fear this time.  How the Vong consider the planet now depends who knows what and how much.  The warriors will have to be convinced they aren’t defying the gods.  It’s possible, though, that Shimrra has convinced them the planet is a Jedi weapon. 
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#33
Jedi Cool

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chapter 34:
 
Nas Choka prepares to leave Yuuzhan’tar for Muscave.  Yuuzhan’tar is in Shimrra’s hands, but he doesn’t entirely trust Yun-Harla.  The Trickster goddess has been too involved in tragedy here in this galaxy and may be deceiving Shimrra.
 
Choka has brought a coven of Yun-Yammka priests to come with him.  He contacts the shaper aboard the dying coralskipper that carries the contagion.  She tells him they have sufficient slayers to pilot the ship but her time is short.
 
He urges her to keep the vessel alive before they reach Zonama Sekot.  As assurance, he decides to send a larger vessel to engulf hers and carry it to the living world.  The slayers can pilot it from there.
 
Then he turns to his tactician and learns that Muscave has become the gathering place for the Alliance group that hit Corulag and capital ships that have come from Contruum.  Vanished groups are probably posed to jump to Yuuzhan’tar from vectors unknown to them.  It won’t matter once they have demolished Zonama Sekot.
 
From the Right to Rule, Jag spies the disturbed ruins of Coruscant as he sweeps down in his starfighter.  Rogue Squadron, Wraith Squadron and the Tananab Yellow Aces are with him.  Three troop transports accompany them.
 
Choka had left enough vessels in orbit, despite making a jump an hour before.  Jag’s team is engaged by one of these battle groups.  He tells them to stay with the transports.  For the first time ever, Twin Suns doesn’t have a Jedi among the pilots.  This is strange to Jag who had seemed to be able to know what Jaina needed over their time flying together.
 
They break over Coruscant, the Right to Rule covers them as they head toward the planet.  Some of the firepower hits the coralskippers, the rest target the remainder of the planetary ring.  The remnants of a moon are blasted, causing a meteor storm over the planet.
 
Singularities open up as the chunks head down and through the overburdened gravitic anomalies.  The Capital ships are analyzing the trajectories of the meteors that slip through and will identify which are under the greatest stress.  
 
Once a window opens, Twin Suns is sent through.
 
The HIMS generators from Bakura retrofitted onto the transports aren’t working as well as they were supposed to.  Soon they have lost three fighters.  Jag is sent to escort the number one transport.
 
 
As the features of the planet come into view, including the newly crafted trees and the worldship Citadel belonging to Shimrra.  The rakamat, or range, that had been used on Borleias are there, too.
 
The first transport lands, YVH droids emerging from it, followed by Page’s commandos, then Wraith Squadron.  Rogue Squadron provides cover fire.
 
On Lady Luck, Lando and Tendra watch the battle from safetly inside GA lines.  Lando contacts the Wild Karrde where Talon Karrde admits he can’t take his eyes away.  A large contingent of Smuggler’s Alliance ships are placed stragetically between the Errant Venture near Zonama Sekot to the outer system.
 
Karrde’s scanners pick up a large number of Vong ships separating from the main body.  The last time this maneuver was performed, the ships jumped for Contruum.  This time, the departure vector is straight for Zonama Sekot.
 
Tendra begins plotting a course, while Karrde contacts Booster Terrick.
 
Han touches the Sekotan ship, aware of how similar it is to coralskippers.  The Jentari have been able to shape ships for all the Jedi participants in the ceremony:  Kyp, Corran, Lowabacca, Markre Medjev, Waxarn Kel, Octa Ramis, Tam Azur-Jamin, Kyle Katarn, Zekk, Saba Sebatyne and Alema Rar.
 
Kyp wishes he could let Han take the ship up for a ride.
 
Leia arrives to warn them that Booster Terrick has called with news of a Yuuzhan Vong battle group on its way.  Just then, the other Jedi appear, followed by Jabitha, Jacen and Harrar.
 
Luke tells everyone that the Yuuzhan Vong are on their way which means the pilots are going to have to learn to fly their new ships while on the job.  
 
Tesar is sent back to join the Wild Knights, while Jaina tries to negotiate a return to her X-Wing.
 
Harrar suggests that, if some are headed to Coruscant, they would benefit by having both Solo twins present at one time.  The Yuuzhan Vong warriors are superstitious; the presence of the Jedi Twins could affect their morale.  And, after all, the Yuuzhan Vong failed at Borleias because Czulkang Lah was more interested in capturing Jaina.
 
Tahiri agrees that Jaina should go.  Jaina doesn’t appreciate other people making decisions for her.
 
Jabitha adds Sekot has chosen Cilghal, Tekli and Danni to remain here.  Danni thought she would be going to Coruscant.  
 
Luke ignites his lightsaber over his head.  The others do the same.  When Leia hesitates, Han tells her she’s as much of a Jedi as the others.
 
Luke tells the gathering that they are being tested in their loyalty to the Force.  They are guardians of the peace.  They want what the Force wants, regardless of where that leads them.  
 
Han wonders where he and the others without lightsabers fit in, but he also speaks with the others when they all say, “May the Force be with us”.
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#34
Jedi Cool

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chapter 35:
 
Shimrra is irritated that his meditation was disrupted to get a message conveyed by Nas Choka.  His forces have been able to overwhelm the enemy at Muscave and he has dispatched a task force to escort the ailing vessel to Zonama Sekot.
 
He is, however, disturbed to find out that living vessels propelled by gravitics and utilizing plasma weapons have countered the coralskippers sent to the planet.  This is confusing the yammosk in a way that it is having trouble differentiating between the Yuuzhan Vong and the enemy vessels.
 
He wants permission to use capital ships.  The seers are unhappy with this as combating living vessels violate their deepest beliefs.  The gods would never have engineered this even as a test. 
 
Further, several enemy ships have managed to land on Yuuzhan’tar.  The seers wonder if the gods may have aligned themselves with the Jedi instead.  Shimrra has the slayers execute the seers for their heresy.
 
He is then approached by Drathul, Jakan and Quelah Kwaad.  Jakan asks if the gods have given these living ships to the Alliance or if the living world has furnished them.  Nom Anor is asked to provide the answer.  Anor doesn’t think there are living ships, only coralskippers falling prey to Jedi mind tricks.
 
Shimrra admires his attempt, but maintains that the gods have taught the living planet how to create the ships.  It is the heretics who have brought about this latest test.   While they walk freely, the poisoned ship will not be delivered. He refuses even to indulge Onimi in this.
 
He orders Nom Anor to take half the Citadel garrison and kill all of the Shamed Ones.  In the meantime, the Overlord will communicate with the World Brain.
 
Drathul pulls Anor aside and threatens his life for not taking the opportunity to put an end to Shimrra’s delusions by revealing the truth.  Knowing the other enemies he’s made, Anor tells the Prefect to stand in line.
 
Jag is pulled out of his ship by the other pilots and recognizes Captain Page who reports to Right to Rule that Fel is on his feet.  Wraith Squadron is here, too, including Garik Loran and Kell Tainer.  Baljos Arnjak appears with a group of Shamed Ones who rescued him and Pash Cracken from the sacrifice.
 
Their mission is to head to the Westport Spaceport, but it’s already up in flames.  Apparently, Shimrra had the World Brain set Yuuzhan’tar on fire so no one could occupy it. 
 
On Zonama Sekot, Harrar confirms it and expects that Shimrra is either mad or desperate.  Han thinks they need to get to him now and, if Page got his transports down, he knows he can get the Falcon down, too.
 
Harrar explains that killing Shimrra will not save the planet.  The World Brain won’t alter its plan and they’ll have to kill it.  When Jacen balks at this, Harrar tells him he will have to go and try to persuade it. 
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#35
Jedi Cool

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chapter 36:
 
Thousands of Shamed Ones are killed by Nom Anor and his Citadel guards, though there’s nothing Anor can do to stop it.  He’s caught in the middle again.  The fires breaking out convince Anor that the Overlord is deranged.  Deciding, he kills the closest warrior to him, dons a robeskin and goes up to the Shamed Ones, proclaiming himself Yu’shaa the Prophet.
 
The Millennium Falcon jumps directly to Coruscant which might as well be a completely different place at this point.  Two X-Wings join the ship as it makes its turbulent flight down to the planet, landing near the commandos. 
 
Most of the recognizable portions of the city are in ruins.  Han, Leia, Luke, Mara, Tahiri, Kenth Hamner, Jacen and Jaina don biosuits, leaving the ship in the hands of the Noghri and droids. YVH droids head down the ramp, too.  Page greets them and explains that the Shamed Ones are up in arms, fighting an execution order set down by Shimrra.
 
Cracken gives Luke an idea of the defenses around the Palace.  Han and Leia head back to the Falcon, hoping Harrar can help them think of some way to stop the World Brain.
 
Kyp’s living ship soars seamlessly through the sky, manipulated by Sekot in the same way the yammosks lead Vong ships.  He can sense what the vessel is thinking and feeling, at one point, an organic section wraps around his fingers.
 
Saba, Lowie and Tam Azur-Jamin’s various skills in the Force show that one must surrender its will to the ship rather than have a powerful connection.   Corran admits he’s done better with the Sekotan ship that he and Tahiri brought from Coruscant.  Kyp agrees he’s having the same problem.  Corran thinks that Sekot is still trying to get a feel for them.
 
Kyp wonders if it’s related to the seed partners bonding to some and not others.  Kyp had destroyed a world, Saba had seen one destroyed, Alema and Corran hold themselves responsible for other worlds.  Kyp wonders if Ganner, Wurth, Miko or Anakin would have bonded.  It’s as if Sekot understands something about them that they don’t.
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  • I’m not quite sure what Kyp’s theory means…after all, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi didn’t have planets on their consciences.  On the other hand, Anakin clearly had issues and the seed partners bonded with him more than anyone else. 

 
 


#36
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chapter 37:
 
The Jedi draw on the Force to push them across rooftops and balconies; the commandos use jet packs.  Luke can feel the planet becoming a void and can’t decide whether this place is Coruscant or Yuuzhan’tar.
 
In sight of the Citadel, X-Wings and E-Wings are hitting the top.  A mon duul is running around, but Jacen assures the group it is harmless.  Shamed Ones approach them with two wounded commandos in their midst.
 
The team is told that the there are rumors the Prophet has returned, but no one knows where.  Mara wonders if he’s leading the heretics or helping slaughter them. Luke asks if any of them have been inside.  A male Shame One steps out, having been a warrior before.  He describes the separate entrances that all end at the Hall of Confluence where Shimrra has his audiences.  The Overlord will probably be in the crown of the Citadel.
 
Luke assures the Shamed Ones that he will help them find their way back to the Force.  Tahiri and Kenth are going with the commandos.  Luke tells Mara he wants her to go with them. 
 
The Falcon heads toward the former legislative district, Han and Leia marvel that the Senate building is still standing.  Harrar explains that the yorik coral absorbed the duracrete and transparisteel and fashioned a new exoskeleton that forms a sphere around the World Brain.
 
He thinks they may be able to find the secret passageway Jacen and Vergere used to escape.  When that proves difficult, he suggests they fly the ship through a huge hedge tunnel.
 
Inside, Harrar warns them not to kill the shaper because the scent marker will be needed to get into the Well.  In the atrium, they encounter warriors with thud and razor bugs. 
 
Nom Anor knows the fight isn’t going well until reinforcements in the form of resistance fighters, commandos and Jedi arrive.  It’s ironic to be fighting alongside Mara Jade Skywalker whom he’d infected with coomb spores years ago.
 
When he is grabbed by Tahiri, he cuts part of his robe out of her hand and runs for the stairs.
 
Queen Mother Tenel Ka’s battle group has arrived shortly after the Yuuzhan Vong capital ships began their move against Zonama Sekot.  The Errant Venture is closer to the planet, hitting coralskippers.
 
Watching from the Lady Luck, Lando and Tendra relay intelligence between the Star Destroyer and the Jedi pilots who have managed to talk their ships into returning fire.
 
They do notice an off-color coral skipper being escorted close to the planet.  Tendra thinks it looks ill.  Lando sends Booster the signature data of the ship which turns out to be the same one that escaped Caluula.  It’s the one carrying Alpha Red.

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  • The last few chapters have referred to two years since the fall of Coruscant.  In that case, the time would be about 29 years ABY as Star by Star took place 27 years ABY.

 
 


#37
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 38:
 
Jag flies his ship through plasma fire toward Shimrra’s fortress, knowing Jaina is downside with her uncle, brother and a team of commandos and droids.  Shawnkyr is delighted to find out he’s still alive and asks if he’s ready to go home now.  He assures her he will as soon as they finish this.
 
On the walkways that access the Citadel, Jaina and Luke are pinned by attack bugs that Jacen hasn’t been able to pacify so much.  A group of YVH droids have already been ripped apart. 
 
Sgauru and Tu-Scart had beeen used at Duro to demolish buildings.  At the base, reptoid slave soldiers guard the entrance.  Page’s Commandos and YVH droids are taking up firing positions. 
 
The ground is shaking again and Jacen knows that he must coax them into breaching the wall.  This will require him to abandon the Force and give himself over to his Vongsense which he hasn’t been able to do since arriving on Coruscant.  He will have to communicate with them through the World Brain.
 
The dhuryam is already angry at being manipulated by Shimrra into thinking it was helping the planet by starting the fires rather than harming it.  Jacen promises the dhuryam that he will help put an end to its conflict over whether or not it should ignore Shimrra. Suddenly, Sgauru and Tu-Scart turn toward him.  He walks to them and is picked up.
 
C-3PO hears Captain Solo ordering the ramp down.  Afer a brief argument with Artoo, the ramp is lowered for the droid to see a warrior charging up it.  Han blasts it before he, Harrar, Princess Leia and the Noghri race into the ship.
 
The hedge thorns begin growing into the ship and Leia can’t raise it.  The ship is boarded and they are forced to give up.  A female shaper appears with High Prefect Drathul and High Priest Jakan.  The latter two are relieved to see Harrar who tells them that he has come to neutralize the brain.
 
Nas Choka is pleased with the battle at Muscave.  He knows the enemy commanders keep fighting because they want to keep him from returning to Yuuzhan’tar, counting on their opponent’s traditional unwillingness to leave a battle.  He decides that he will allow them to think he is on the run.
 
Several more enemy ships revert to real space.  Choka knows that Kre’fey has arrived.  
 
He is told that Yuuzhan’tar is currently in turmoil.  There are enemy ground troops battling in the sacred precinct and the dhuraym is confusing things by setting fires and freeing beasts.  Hapan ships are preventing the poisoned vessel from landing at Zonama Sekot.
 
He orders several vessels since to the living world to teach the Hapans a lesson.
 
Mara hears Tahiri call out that she’s found Nom Anor.  When the executor begins fleeing up a flight of stairs, she jumps onto the staircase and races after him.  She deflects his blaster bolts until he runs up against a wall.  She battles him hand to hand, inflicting blows for infecting her with the coomb spores, for Rhommamool, for the Peace Brigade, for Elan, for his treacherous dealings with the Hutts and Viqi Shesh, for sabotaging refugee settlements and for every part he played in harming her family, friends and Zonama Sekot.
 
He begs for mercy, reminding her that he know she served the Emperor in the past, only doing her job as he has been doing, points out that she serves the Force now, that killing him won’t end the war, that she wouldn’t want her son to know she murdered someone in cold blood, appealing to his significance as a living being, insisting he’s changed and has led the Shamed Ones.
 
In the end, she does not kill him, though she doesn’t believe anything he’s said.  He would never have harmed Zonama Sekot if he’d wanted an end to the war.  He tells her that he was trying to spare the planet.  Shimrra wants to destroy it because he thinks the gods are using it to test the worthiness of the Yuuzhan Vong.  He’s sent a ship with the Alliance bioweapon on it to poison the world.
 
She grabs him and tells him he’s going to show her he’s deserving of the extra time she has given him.
 
Not even Onimi is able to put enthusiasm into the burning of Yuuzhan’tar and he is the only Shamed One who doesn’t seem to fear being around Shimrra. 
 
Shimrra points out that the planet will recover once the living world is dead and the gods have been defeated.  A shaper reports that Jakan has communicated the capture of saboteurs at the Well of the World Brain, including the priest Harrar.
 
He allows for their sacrifice, then is approached by a wounded warrior telling him there are three Jedi at the gate.
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#38
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 39:
 
In the Atrium of the Senate building, Leia, Han, Harar, Cakhmaim and Meewalh are pushed through a tunnel, the droids trailing behind.  Shamed Ones begin filling the atrium, brandishing weapons. 
 
Jakan orders them to leave or be killed, but a Yuuzhan Vong male limps forward and makes a statement to the heretics.  Harrar translates that he claims to be the Prophet, telling Han and Leia that it’s Nom Anor.
 
Mara, Tahiri and Kenth are there, so the warriors look to Drathul for orders.  The Shamed Ones know they are outnumbered and begin to spread out.  A hundred new troops enter the atrium and it’s obvious that the heretics are no match for them.  The three Jedi, along with Nom Anor and his lieutenants hold their ground.
 
Drathul orders his newly-arrived warriors to spare the Prefect, his aides and the Jedi for the sacrifice, then moves to a place of safety.  The commander orders his troops to turn, they about-face and attack Drathul’s forces.  The Shamed Ones realize what is happening and join in.
 
The Jedi assist in the fighting, Nom Anor runs for Drathul, but Harrar yells to Leia that Qelah Kwaad must be stopped because she can seal the passageway to the dhuryam.  She calls Han to follow her, spotting Harrar knocking down Jakan and Nom Anor with his hands around Drathul’s neck.
 
Tu-Scart knocks an opening in the wall, Sgauru holds onto Jacen and the reptoid soldiers decide to attack the beasts.  The beasts trample the nearest ones and pursue the others inside.  Luke and Jaina take the opportunity to rush inside while Page’s Commandos and YVH droids secure the canyons.
 
Jacen silently thanks the World Brain for interceding and reaffirms his promise to help. 
 
They meet resistance on the eighth level and onward, where Luke becomes a vortex battling amphistaffs, thud bugs, coufees and warriors.  He doesn’t seem to be there at all, stunning his niece and nephew.  When he finishes, he isn’t even breathing heavily and asks Jacen which way to go. 
 
Jacen knows where Shimrra is via his Vongsense, but he also finds that the World Brain is more confused than ever.  Through the Force, Jacen finds his parents, Mara, Tahiri and Kenth in the Well and preparing to destroy the dhuryam.
 
It feels betrayed, sending to Jacen how it should have killed him when it had the chance.  Jacen explains that he taught it to trust and what it means to trust a traitor, but this time, he has not betrayed the World Brain.  It needs to decide which side it’s on.
 
They are one.  He urges it to reject the commands Shimrra is sending it and overcome its conditionging.  Show those threatening it that it poses no threat and is actually being liberated by them.
 
Han tells Quelah Kwaad to change the World Brain’s mind or he will.  He, Leia, Harrar, Mara, Nom Anor and the droids are waiting by the Well.  Darthul is dead, killed by Nom Anor, but Harrar has spared Jakan’s life.  Tahiri, Kenth Hamner and the Noghri are waiting with him and guarding the tunnel entrance.
 
Qelah tries to speak with it, but it becomes agitated.  Suddenly, it calms down and Leia believes Jacen is responsible.  The shaper dismisses this, claiming the Shimrra has done this because he is going to end the war by poisoning Zonama Sekot.
 
Mara pushes Nom Anor forward to confirm this.
 
There is a fevered battle at Zonama Sekot.  The Hapan line is holding, Errant Venture has been forced to retreat, carrying Lady Luck and Wild Karrde.  However, Wedge and Keyan Farlander have withdrawn from Muscave and come here. 
 
The Jedi have gone on the offensive when word that the contaminated coralskipper is headed toward the planet came through.  They don’t know what Alpha Red will do to Zonama, but it’s too risky not to intercept it.  Jabitha has been unable to contact Sekot.
 
Suddenly, the living ships no longer respond.  Chased by a pair of coralskippers, Kyp heads over the planet as even the planetary weapons star falling silent.  The Jedi worry that the planet has already been poisoned.
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  • As opposed to droids as they are, I’m surprised the Vong didn't destroy Artoo and Threepio the moment the whole group was captured.

 
 
 


#39
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 40:
 
In the stairway, Luke guesses they will have to climb when the dovin basal controlling the chute that leads to Shimrra’s throne room refuses to let them pass. 
 
When they reach the antechamber, there are several of the specially-engineered warriors Han and Leia had faced on Caluula.  Though these are a threat, they are more of a match than the Warlord is.
 
He is the largest Yuuzhan Vong Luke has ever seen.  It is only in Luke’s own mind that this could be even close to the Emperor’s throne room.  He keeps to himself any worry that he was mistaken in bringing Jacen and Jaina here.
 
Shimrra bids Luke forward and the Jedi Master falls to his knees. Jacen sends through a meld that it’s a dovin basal, not a Shimrra.  Jacen leaves the meld for a moment to use his Vongsense to disable the gravitic pull.  When Luke stands up, Shimrra is incredulous. 
 
Luke pulls his lightsaber and the warriors break up to battle him, Jacen and Jaina in groups.  Luke battles his opponents with speed and skill until the throne room sends everyone tumbling into another wall.  He thinks Shimrra is responsible, but the Warlord looks baffled.  Jacen sends that it’s the dhuyram.
 
Luke knows, though, that Shimrra isn’t out of tricks yet.  Noticing for the first time that he’s not alone, Luke sees another Yuuzhan Vong, a Shamed One, skulking in the shadows.  Then the bunker moves again.
 
Nas Choka receives a report that the planet is silencing its defenses and it beaten.  Communication with Yuuzhan’tar has become garbled and it’s reported that several warriors and Jedi have penetrated the Citadel.  Choka notes that the gods would never permit Shimrra to be captured or killed. 
 
His tactician is not so sure.  Yuuzhan’tar has grown as serene as Zonoma Sekot.  It is feared the World Brain has been killed.  Further, Ralroost and other ships are speeding for the planet.  Choka assures him that he doesn’t need to be here for Zonama Sekot to die.
 
Jaina pushes through bodies to get back on her feet when it tilts again.  Lke and a warrior are in the middle of a battle, their free hands holding on for support where they can.  She can perceive Jacen behind her, Shimrra tottering off and his companion making its way to a curving staircase.
 
She wonders if the Shamed One is going to carry out one of his master’s commands, so sets off after him.  Reaching the top, she is dropped on her shoulders by the mascot who bites her shoulder and her whole body goes numb.   Before she blacks out, she can’t help but notice that she had sensed him through the Force.
 
In an airship, two pilots, Jabitha, Cilghal, Tekli and Danni are silent while fires push updrafts into the air.  Danni is freezing and cannot even use the Force as the others have done to keep them warm.  She knows she is no Jedi and anything she has accomplished since this war began had nothing to do with her ability to use the Force.
 
It’s as if she was just conscripted into the Jedi Order for being at the right place at the right time.  She doesn’t know why Sekot has wanted her to stay here. 
 
When the fighters land, Kyp asks if they have been able to locate Sekot.  Jabitha tells him Sekot is everywhere, just silent.  Alema suggest they take Jade Shadow to intercept the poisoned coralskipper.  Cilghal points out they would risk blowing Alpha Red into the atmosphere. 
 
Danni thinks that Sekot has learned about the poison and wants to allow the ship to land so it can be contained here rather than spread.  There isn’t any evidence that humans can carry the virus, otherwise, Han, Leia and Kyp would have been considered contaminated at Caluula.  Talk of evacuating the people on the planet goes nowhere because they cannot reach Errant Venture
 
Zekk wonders if Sekot wants to keep them here.  He’s been learning about this belief in the Potentium.  If it does not distinguish between light and dark, it doesn’t matter what happens here.  Cilghal argues that it wouldn’t have agreed to come here just to die if it’s really a caretaker of the Force.
 
Jabitha tells Danni that Sekot wants to speak with her.
 
Jacen struggles to keep himself alive so he doesn’t have the luxury of going into himself to meet pain head on.  Though the World Brain has chosen sides, it only affects the shaping of Coruscant, not the Supreme Overlord or his slayers.
 
They are moving with the coordination of coralskippers controlled by a yammosk.  This began when he rose from the throne and his companion had escaped, with Jaina in pursuit.
 
Shimrra approaches Luke who is battling four warriors himself.  Jacen warns him and Luke takes them down quickly.  Jacen goes to help when one of his opponents goes for Luke instead. 
 
Luke’s left hand pushes a tangle of energy out via the Force and stops a warrior short.  When the room tilts again, Jacen is hurled toward Shimrra, grabs for the Vong’s body and is punched in the chest so hard he blacks out.
 
He comes to a moment later to see that Luke had taken the next blow.  His uncle cannot Force-leap out of reach due to Shimrra hovering over him.  The amphistaff squeezes his saber arm to his side and begins to crushing him.  Jacen calls his lightsaber to him and sends it at Shimrra’s head. 
 
Shimrra blocks it with his hand, then pulls out Anakin’s lightsaber.  He waves it at Luke’s head.  Luke uses his left hand to grab at Shimrra’s wrist which gives the amphistaff head time to bite Luke’s chest.
 
Anakin’s lightsaber flies to Luke’s left hand and slits the throat of the amphistaff, then the weapon itself.  He crosses both blades and shoves them up to Shimrra’s neck, decapitating him. 
 
He pulls himself from underneath the massive body and collapses.  He tosses Anakin’s lightsaber to Jacen and mentions Jaina.  Jacen reaches for the lightsaber but the floor tilts again and it flies past him.  He remembers his vision.
 
Luke tells him to leave it.
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#40
Jedi Cool

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chapter 41:
 
The devastation of Coruscant is bad enough on the outside, but Nom Anor finds the scene inside the Citadel even worse.  He’d dreamed of bringing down the established order, but to find blood everywhere, dovin basals dead and YVH droids marching inside makes him wonder what he’s done. 
 
Han and Leia, Mara, Kenth and Tahiri are speaking with Page and Major Cracken.  Leia asks if they’ve seen Luke or her children.  Page mentions that they were going after Shimrra.  Anor confirms that the Warlord would be in his coffer, a bunker at the summit.  He offers to lead them to it.
 
The first thing he sees upon entering is Shimrra’s head separated from his body.  His people have never been without a Supreme Overlord.  Slayers are dead on the floor and Luke Skywalker is slumped and possibly near death.  There is no sign of the twins.
 
Kenth Hamner excuses himself to let Kre’fey know the Overlord is dead.  Mara has gone to Luke’s side.  Anor diagnoses his wound as being made by Shimrra’s amphistaff.  There is no cure for the venom.  He will die if the Force cannot heal him.
 
Luke is slowing the blood flow.  Leia takes his hand and tells him they’ve won.  She asks where the twins are.  He indicates they are upstairs.  This is a vessel designed to provide Shimrra with an escape craft.  They went after Onimi.
 
Anor is angry to realize that Onimi is fleeing.  He notes that the ship responds only to Shimrra, though, so he must be hiding.  The bunker vibrates, indicating it’s ready to launch.  Han has the three women take Luke out of here while he and Nom Anor find the others.  Leia will not leave without him.
 
Mara and Tahiri help Luke up, while Han asks Anor why Onimi can work the controls of this ship.  Anor assumes he’s deceived the ship somehow, while Han wonders if Shimrra is really dead.
 
Ralroost arrives at Corsucant where the Imperial flotilla has already overwhelmed the dovin basals and thousands of ground troops are downside.  The Yuuzhan Vong fleet is not yielding any space. 
 
The death of their Overlord doesn’t seem to have made a difference to the commanders here.  Kre’fey doesn’t know which strategy to take as any of his choices will drag the war out for years.  Then he’s told that Nas Choka’s forces have left Muscave and are headed here.
 
Jaina wakes up to find herself hanging from two hooks.  She calls out to the Force for her brother and uncle, but knows only that they are both injured.  Onimi shuffles around the bridge and tells her he only bit her enough to make her inert.
 
He calls her Yun-Harla and demands to know why she Shamed him when he so faithful to her.  He was the shaper who discovered the truth that the eighth cortex was empty and they were doomed.  That’s why he risked grafting yammosk cells to his own neural tissue, hoping of discovering some way to escape this terrible fate.  Instead of rewarding him, she condemned him.  He was left with the power to speak through the mouths of others and manipulate them as the yammosks do, but with physical deformities that reduced him to a Shamed One.  He was unable to help his species then.
 
That’s when he turned against Yun-Harla.  She led them to a galaxy where they are being slaughtered.  It was only by the powers she gave him that he was able to make Shimrra his puppet.  He compelled the Overlord to push into this galaxy, only to have Shimrra himself re-emerge when Onimi focused on defeating her.
 
He can see the glow of the divine in her, just as Yun-Yammak glows in Skywalker, Yun-Shuno in Jacen and Yun-Ne’Shel in Tahiri.  She realizes that he can see her through the Force.
 
Luke is carried out of the Hall in a Force trance to the Millennium Falcon where Shamed Ones, battle droids and Alliance commandos are waiting.  Jag Fel asks where Jaina is and wants to go after her when he hears she’s still inside the Citadel.  Mara stops him because they don’t know what’s going on up there and Luke needs to get medical attention. 
 
Jag offers an escort.  Harrar tells assembled warriors, Shamed Ones, Jakan and Qelah Kwaad that Shimrra is dead.  They do not know what Nas Choka will do now.  A Shamed One comes through the crowd and claims he’s a Shaper.  He can prolong Luke’s life, but there’s no antitode.
 
The Citadel begins to lift up, dropping Anakin’s lightsaber from Tahiri’s grasp.  Mara orders her to leave it when it drops too far for her to call it to her.  She realizes Jacen and Jaina are up there and they can’t let the ship get away.
 
Jacen is hit by the torrent of emotions coming from Onimi.  He realizes that, through his experiments, Onimi has found a way to reverse the damage done to his people and regained the Force. 
 
Onimi plans to kill the twins so he can ascend to godhood himself.  The living planet is crying out, sensing its own death.  Onimi is using the same poison the GA came up with to kill his people to destroy the living planet. 
 
Jacen wonders that, if he can see Onimi through the Force, he might be able to find Sekot in Vongsense. He hears the voice from his vision, telling him to stand firm. It is Anakin Skywalker.
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#41
Jedi Cool

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chapter 42:
 
Lando comms Wedge to tell him that Nas Choka was hoping to keep them too busy to notice the poisoned coralskipper bearing Alpha Red to Zonama Sekot.  They don’t know why the Jedi fighters have gone back to the planet, so Booster is taking his ship as close as possible to evacuate.
 
Wedge reminds him they cannot take the risk that the bioweapon has already been unleashed on Zonama Sekot.  It might be spread by other species.  Lando promises to check with the Jedi on the ground first.  The death of Shimrra doesn’t seem to have slowed down Nas Choka. 
 
Wedge tells the mission officer to prepare a starfighter for Red Squadron which is the one protecting Zonama Sekot.  The pilot’s call sign will be Vader.
 
Nas Choka doesn’t believe that Shimrra is dead, especially since it’s being reported that Harrar has gone over to the enemy and Nom Anor is the heretic’s prophet. His tactician wonders if the Overlord has been duped by the gods into playing into their hands so they can punish him for his arrogance.  However, the launch of the Citadel leads Choka to believe Shimrra is just rallying them for one large push.  He orders all vessels to converge on Ralroost.
 
Onimi, like Vergere, had learned to use his talents to produce compounds on a molecular level.  However, he uses his for deadly toxins.  He flies at Jace, hoping to bite him as they meet in discharges of electrical energy that entangle them both. 
 
But Onimi cannot find Jacen in the Force.  The twin brother is a being of light, drawing in all of Onimi’s lethal compounds and casting them out of his sweat and tears.  Jacen knows he could not catch the lightsaber because he has become one.  He can cut through the bonds of preconeception and open a hole into a more expansive reality than he ever thought possible. 
 
Like his grandfather, he has broken through the opposites that conceal the true nature of the force and found a unity that exists beyond it.  He can balance light and dark within himself without remaining on one side or the other.  All he had to do was surrender.  It’s something the Jedi used to know but lost when they began focusing on individual achievement.
 
Jacen understands that the Yuuzhan Vong had lived in symbiosis with Yuuzhan’tar.  When they cut that bond, they isolated themselves from the Force and, instead of worshipping life, they were worshipping death. 
 
Over time, Onimi realizes that Jacen isn’t defending himself but using Onimi’s strengths against him.  He is becoming overwhelmed as he is drawn deeper into Jacen, becoming smaller.  Jacen becomes so powerful that he is too dangerous to his own galaxy, seeing the temptations of forcing one’s will on others and to dominate.  He purges his mind knows he will never be able to reach this state again.
 
Han and Nom Anor rush into the room, Leia after them.  She sees her son in a pillar of light, his face aging five years.  Onimi soon elongates, his features reversing the mutilations until his life melts into nothingness.
 
Nom Anor watches this as the ship leaves Onimi’s control to rendezvous with Nas Choka’s armada.  Anor briefly considers rendering them unconscious, but thinks better of it.  He tells them that the ship has begun to die with Onimi’s death and they need to get out of here.  He leads them all to what he claims is a landing craft, but Jacen knows it isn’t.  Tired of his self-serving, Han steps forward to confront him.  Anor sprays poison from his plaeryin bol that catches Jacen in the face.
 
He then prepares to shoot gas from his false finger when Leia uses her lightsaber to cut off his hand.  Jacen sits by him, telling him it didn’t have to be this way.  Anor points out that he will not fit in either his world or theirs.
 
He opens the landing craft bay and refuses to leave, as he and Onimi are two of a kind.
 
Choka and his officers are stunned to see the Citadel ship dismember in front of them.  He contacts all supreme commanders to tell them they have been defeated by the gods and their allies.  A great many pilots choose to die by sending their ships into collision courses with Alliance ships.
 
Rescue craft head toward Zonama Sekot, evading Coralskippers. Two red X-Wings streak past the Lady Luck, Wedge in one of them.  They spot the poisoned coralskipper being pursued by Red Squadron.   A swarm of ships launch from the planet, grabbing the Smugglers’ Alliance ships, Wedge and his wingmate in tractor beams.
 
On the ground, Corran comms that they’ve not seen the ships before either.  Danni appears with Jabitha and a hundred Ferroans.  She tells Kyp that Sekot is piloting the insect craft because it’s not interested in fighting.  It wants to welcome the Yuuzhan Vong home.
 
When the first coralskippers land, four warriors jump out only to have their amphistaffs and thud bugs take to the forests and trees. 
 
With the landing craft falling apart, Jaina launches an umbilical to the Falcon and they crawl across to the comfort of Han’s beloved ship, met by Kenth Hamner, Harrar and the droids.
 
Mara calls back to Tahiri and the Noghri that everyone is fine before dragging Jacen to Luke.  Han, Leia and Jaina follow.  Luke is out cold, his face white, and his breathing shallow.
 
Mara begins to cry.  Jacen takes her hands in his and brings the tear-stained fingers to Luke’s chest.  He holds them there for a long time before adding his own tears to hers.  Luke heaves as he takes a deep breath, whispering that he will live.
 
The whole family falls on each other as the droids appear in the doorway.  Threepio agrees with Artoo that he rarely envies humans, but this is one of the few times he does.
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  • I’m not convinced Anakin Skywalker found that balance during his life, unless this is some weird interpretation of his deathbed conversion. 

  • The Jedi of old really didn’t strike me as being obsessed with individual achievement.  Not sure what they did that would cause them to lose this morally relative view of the Force. 

 
 


#42
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Part IV: The New Order:
 
chapter 43:
 
Kre’fey tours Coruscant on a speeder, if anything to view the prize that cost so much.  There are 5 million dead, twice that number wounded, 300 capital ships and 11000 starfighters gone.  The whole war is estimated to have cost 365 trillion lives.
 
Generals Farlander and Bel Iblis are designated occupation commanders.  Squads of commandos are patrolling the streets, searching and stopping looting.  Heretics are helping to interpret and ferret out spies.  Enemy weapons are confiscated while YVH droids move through warrens.
 
Prisoners are being held, but thousands have escaped into the wild wilderness of the planet, vowing to fight to the last.  Kre’fey has no idea what to do with the ones that remain or Coruscant itself.  That’s now in the hands of the politicans again.
 
At the temporary headquarters, he is greeted by an hologram of Cal Omas who is stationed at Contruum for now.  Kre’fey reports that they’ve gotten no word from Nas Choka who has recalled his flotillas but is neither advancing nor withdrawing.
 
If he chooses to press an attack, Alliance forces could beat him at a huge cost.  Kre’fey would rather not do anything right now.  They just received the ability to communicate with Choka via villip. 
 
As it is, the admiral is going to be hard pressed to convince his commanders that the enemy should be shown compassion after five years of barbarism.  Of course, it may be hard to convince the Yuuzhan Vong on occupied to give up without a fight.
 
Zonama Sekot managed to prevail against an attempt to poison it.  It tractored the sick vessel out into space.  There are ships searching for it to see if the toxin is still active.  What remains true is that Coruscant must not be allowed to hold Vong prisoners.  It is a symbol of order in their galaxy and no species will be comfortable if it is not in GA hands. 
 
It will be difficult to hold the remaining official accountable for the actions of the Warlord.  Shimrra is dead, so is Anor, much of the Peace Brigade.  They cannot doom innocent Yuuzhan Vong citizens to their deaths and they need the remaining officials to subjugate the warrior caste.  The entire species is guilty, but who do they punish?
 
Luke, Jacen and Harrar walk along a path to a reflecting pool.  Luke is getting stronger, but he may not completely heal.  Jacen and Jaina seem both older and more grave. 
 
The Yuuzhan Vong pulled down to the planet have been persuaded to leave their ships behind, some not sure if they are prisoners or guests, others converted by the life on this world, convinced they can feel the gods here. 
 
Jabitha greets them at the pool.  Communicating through her, Sekot explains that Zonama is a seed of Yuuzhan’tar, the world that birthed the Yuuzhan’tar and became the template for their gods.  It is not sure where the original planet is now, but it might have been destroyed by the original Vong who were cast out of the Force.  Their hunger for violence had come because of a single confrontation with a warfaring race had had terrible consequences. 
 
They created a group of gods to replace what the living world had been to them.  Harrar recognizes that the empty eighth cortex couldn’t be moved beyond.  When the seed of Yuuzhan’tar  drifted to this galaxy, it took root and grew.  Sekot remained dormant for generations while Zonama developed and the Yuuzhan Vong looted their own galaxy before embarking on a quest to come here.
 
They were drawn here genetically several times.  It is also possible that Sekot called out to them only to be attacked.  This was counter to the teachings of the Potentium and helped give birth to Sekot’s awareness.  It wasn’t until they were lost in the Unknown Regions that it realized the Vong had been stripped of the Force due to the cycle of violence that only continued when Alpha Red was launched at it.  It could have accepted the poison and ended its participation in the war or it could send it back to the Vong.  In the end, it decided to sue for peace.
 
Nas Choka is aboard an Alliance shuttle taking him and five of his commanders to the Ralroost.  He could have launched himself at Coruscant and gone out in a blaze of glory, but it was pointless when the gods aren’t supporting him.
 
Aboard the ship, they are greeted by a huge gathering of Alliance officers and personages he’s recognized from the preceeding years.  The Jedi are there, too, along with Jakan, Harrar, Qelah Kwaad and several others.
 
He is unhappy to learn they will be overseen by Zonama Sekot.  Harrar explains that it is their homeworld of Yuuzhan’tar, willing to welcome them home.  It is the inspiration for their gods, save Yun-Yammka, whom they concoted when they turned to war.
 
They will have to redefine their society as the planet moves to the Unknown Regions where it knows of a star system they can colonize.  The only terms are that Choka help the Alliance stop the commanders who are not surrendering and that he provide shapers to help convince the World Brain to restore Coruscant.
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#43
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

    They call me MRS. Six!

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chapter 44:
 
His body seemingly compromising with the venom, Luke spends the weeks after the summit walking Zonama Sekot.  Though the GA appreciates the Jedi for providing a solution to ending the war, they have stopped asking for advice. 
 
Coruscant is being reconstructed.  There has been a memorial service for Ackbar and the launch of a new HoloNet.  Jacen has spent time working with the shapers who are persuading the dhuryam to cooperate.  It’ll be decades before Coruscant is fit to live on.  For now, the GA is headquartered at Denon. 
 
Nas Choka has recalling many of the commanders, but not all. There are still costly engagements and rumors of hidden warriors in the dense forests.
 
Sien Sovv finally was able to get his resignation accepted in favor of Admiral Kre’fey, Dif Scaur has been pushed quietly into retirement, replaced by Belindi Kalenda, Omas has assured Luke that all Alpha Red traces have been destroyed. 
 
The Ferrorans are working on repairing their cliff dwellings.  They are generally accepting of Sekot’s decision to allow half the planet to be populated by the species that tried to destroy it, though some have left.
 
The Jedi arrive in groups over several days and allowed to mingle for a day before Luke gathers them.  The large group includes Jedi who took a visible role in the war and those who did not.  Tyria Sarkin has returned with her son, Doran, the Jedi students hidden in the Maw are here, along with Klin-Fa Gi, Izal Waz, Tresk Im’nel and Hivrech’wao’Cheklev.
 
Luke tells them that the Yuuzhan Vong will be arriving soon.  They will be working with Sekot to restore the southern hemisphere forests which were bruned by the original recon team fifty years ago.  It is hoped that they will get to know Zonama by working with the boras.  In return, Sekot will get to know them.
 
As for what the Force wants from the Jedi, he doesn’t think they are meant to devote themselves to propping up the Galactic Alliance.  They must still safeguard peace and justice, but they must be careful of any who try to define peace and justice on their own terms. 
 
They could go back to Yavin IV, but he doesn’t see a point.  The days of a praxeum are behind them now.  The Force is strong on any number of worlds.  Kam Solusar has suggested relocating to Ossus.  What they will really be exploring, however, is the Unifying Force.
 
He is still a guide to them, though he surrendered guardianship at Ithor.  He means to pass on what he has learned, but others here are just as able to do that.  In the past five years, he has learned that the Force is more all-embracing than he ever knew.  Light and dark often intermingle.  It also seems to have a will.  Acting against the will causes them to get into trouble.  It isn’t anger that condemns them, but anger coupled with a desire to dominate.
 
This order began as a meditative one before the Jedi started answering to the Supreme Chancellors time and again until they became attached to the Old Republic as marshals and warriors.  He doesn’t intend that they seclude themselves, but they must attune themselves to the longer view.
 
Everyone has the ability to use the Force in some way or another, though not always in great feats.  Adhering to the true path and sacrificing oneself, allowing the Force to flow through them are also powers. 
 
Kyp, Cilghal, Saba, Kenth, Tresina and Luke will continue to serve on the Council.  Madurran and Keyan Farlander will return to their work in the military.  Tenel Ka is going home.  Kirana Ti, Streen and Damaya are going to Dathomir, while Kam and Tionne are taking several others to Ossus.  He asks only that the rest of them think about how they might best serve the Force.
 
During the meeting, Lando meets with Han, Talon Karrde, Booster and Crev Bombossa and offers them a drink.  Wedge and Tycho show up to join the party. Both of them are going back into retirement at the behest of their wives.
 
Tycho wonders what the Smugglers’ Alliance is up to.  Talon Karrde answers that they are waiting for the dust to settle from all the shake-ups.  The Bothans are at the top because of their contribution to the war effort, followed closely by Sullustans, Hapans, Imperials and Mon Calamari.  At the bottom is everyone Rimward of Wayland plus the Ithorians, Kuati, Bimms, Corellians and, especially, the Hutts.
 
Spice addicts were forced into withdrawal during the war and just about everyone who had regular dealing with the Hutts have lost credibility, such as Rodians, Nikto, Weequays.  It doesn’t help that many of them filled up the Peace Brigade ranks.
 
Lando guesses the Ryn have come out the best. 
 
Han swears he saw Boba Fett at Caluula with a bunch of Mandalorians and a souped-up Firespray.  Karrde admits that he heard the same bunch liberated Ord Mantell, Tholatin and Gyndine. 
 
Zonama Sekot must be having an effect on them, too, because the Smugglers’ Alliance is slowing down for now in order to devote resources to rebuilding.
 
Jacen and Jaina talk to each other about the upcoming changes.  Tekli, Tahiri and Danni are going to the Unknown Regions with Zonama Sekot.  The Horns are going to Corellia for awhile. 
 
Jacen doesn’t want to be part of an exclusive group, he doesn’t want to be surrounded by students and doesn’t want to be looked to as the hero of the new order. He’d like to stay here, but he’s worried he’ll never leave.
 
He’s thinking about spending time studying with the other Force users in the galaxy.  Anakin would probably mock him for that.  He wishes he could see his brother now, but he knows that they wouldn’t be here now without his sacrifice.  Jaina knew she would survive this war but was afraid she would outlive her whole family. She’s not sure what she’ll do now, but she knows she’ll be part of the action wherever it is.
 
Four day later, the two droids watch as everyone leaves.  See-Threepio is nostalgic, noting that this war threatened the existence of droids more than any other.  For the first time, they were as valuable as the sentient beings.  Sometimes, they even fought for droids.
 
R2 points out they face an enemy far more dangerous:  obsolescence.  Threepio acknowledges that there will become a time when their out-of-date parts can’t be replaced and they suffer a system failure.
 
Artoo thinks life will remain as unpredictable as ever.  His friend hopes they do even if they don’t quite measure up to the adventures they’ve already had.  Artoo tells him he used to say that all the time.

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  • Klin Fa-Gi was first seen in Emissary of the Void, but this is her first appearance in a novel.
  • Izal Waz appeared in Star By Star and Rebel Dream.
  • This is Tresk Im’nel’s first appearance
  • Cheklev first appeared in Star by Star.
  • Damaya first appeared in The Courtship of Princess Leia but we have not seen her until now and do not know when she joined Luke’s new Jedi order.
 


#44
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

    They call me MRS. Six!

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chapter 45:
 
Jag escorts Vong transports to Zonama Sekot where there are already settlements in the Southern Hemisphere.  Jaina waits for him as he lands, taking his hand and leading him to a shelter, passed Luke and Mara.  Ben toddles around them.
 
He asks her to come with him to Chiss space to meet his parents and sister.  She doesn’t think it’s the right time.  Jag wonders if her parents disapprove of her involvement with him because of his family ties.
 
Jaina thinks she just needs time to work through everything that’s happened.  He admits that he loves her.  She answers that she loves him, too, and she wants what her parents have.  She just wants to be sure she can offer her children more than what her mother or aunt have been able to offer theirs.
 
Jag hopes to see some of her in the meantime as he’s been appointed by the CEDF as a liason to the Alliance.  The thought of rendezvouses on exotic worlds lead them both to kiss as the snow falls.
 
Pellaeon tells Leia and Han that he had the honor of being aboard their ship five years ago when the peace accords were signed, now he is honored by their presence on his ship.
 
He is eager to get back to Bastion and his garden, maybe even allowing a bit of nature to enter here and there.  He hadn’t realized how much he missed Coruscant until he was able to tour it after the battle.  He has reflected on his career a lot recently and, since they have given back something he lost, he wants to do the same for them.
 
He gives them Killik Twilight, the moss painting thought lost when Alderaan was destroyed, but later found containing a vital Rebel Alliance code that Han and Leia ent to Tatooine to retrieve.  It had ended up in the hands of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
 
The last to leave Zonama Sekot is Jade Shadow which bears Luke, Mara, Ben and R2.  Sekot bids them farewell and hands the comm. over to Harrar who will be taking an airship to see what will become of his people.  They will have to redefine the warrior instincts that caused them to make war on themselves and others.
 
Tahiri agrees to search for the Widowmaker when they return.  As the ship jumps, Luke hears Obi-Wan say she’s leaving.  Ben cries and Luke knows his son is meant to be there someday.
 
On Kashyyk, the Millennium Falcon and Jade Shadow sit side by side.  Chewbacca’s family is there.  Han speaks to a tree in which Chewie’s image has been carved, telling him he can relax and it’s finally over. 
 
Luke hands Han Anakin’s lightsaber which had been found by a demolition crew on Coruscant.  He activates it and drives it down into a fallen limb until a hole burns deep enough to bury the tip of the hilt in it.  Then he turns it off, stuck fast in the wood.
 
Luke and Han muse how it seems like only yesterday they met in a cantina in Mos Eisley.  Now, Han has lost a son and a friend.  The Jedi Order has been cut in half.  But the galaxy is more unified than it has been in generations. 
 
Han has a ship to rebuild and would like to do it somewhere quiet.  Denon isn’t for them and Corellia isn’t what it was.  Since they are past celebrating their 20thanniversary, he thinks going into the Corporate Sector would be a good idea.  Luke asks if his family can come along.  Ossus is on the way anyway.
 
Chewie’s son, Waroo, and Lowbacca want to come, too, so they can assume Chewbacca’s life debt.  Han protests that they managed to get rid of the Noghri for this trip.  Soon, though, they are all laughing and enjoying the warmth and love of family.
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  • Pellaeon says the peace accords between the New Republic and the Imperial Sector were five years ago.  Vision of the Past was about 10 years ago, not five.  Unless, of course, there were further negotiations that pushed the official signing til right before the Vong war.  And also took place on the Falcon!

  • I’m sure we remember the hunt for Killik Twilight in Tatooine Ghost.

  • Wookiee family present included:  Attichitcuk the father of Chewbacca, his sister Kallabow, widow Mallatobuck, Waroo, of course.

  • Ralrra whom we met in Rebel Dawn was also present.

  • One of the Wookiees is named Dewlannamapia which was the name of the female Wookiee who raised Han Solo and died in The Paradise Snare decades ago.  This is obviously a mistake.

  • Also present is Gorrlyn, the wife of Salporin, whom we met in Hero’s Trial, Jowdrrl from Rebel Dawn, Tyrant’s Test and Hero’s Trial and Dryanta

This is the end of the New Jedi Order series.  Besides shaking up the Star Wars galaxy by eliminating several characters, it has also revamped the government, forged new alliances and has changed the Jedi Order...for better or worse, we shall soon see.




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