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The Dark Nest Trilogy: Book 1: "The Joiner King"

chapter discussion thread

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#26
Jedi Cool

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chapter 25:
 
There are no insect stowaways on the Falcon so the Solos had hoped to keep Alema separated from her weapons until they can determine if she is innocent in all of this.  No one mentions this to Juun who is happy to help put Alema’s weapons belt on her before they head out onto the planet where the ship has crashed.
 
She and Leia are in hazmat suits taking collection buckets under the leak in the ship’s coolant line.  They don’t get nearly the amount Han needs so he warns them to be careful, which is when Alema’s bucket drops coolant all over the ground.
 
The Nohgri jump at her quickly and Han confirms they were watching on the cam and saw her break her handle.  She uses the Force to push the remaining buckets toaward the Noghri.  Han asks her why she’s done this.
 
She explains that they were betraying the Colony and they cannot allow the masters’ council to be poisoned against them.  Leia and the two Noghri fight her off as they can, but she knocks both Noghri out and Leia is clearly not well versed in lightsaber combat.
 
It is clear the Solos have extra coolant.  They had led her to believe they were desperate in order to find out if she was the saboteur of the ship.  Leia tells her that the masters already know something is going wrong.  The only way she can win the Masters’ support is to go to Ossus and explain what happened.
 
Alema ignites her lightsaber.  Leia asks if she doesn’t want to help the Colony.  She realizes that Alema doesn’t know why she sabotaged the Falcon.  Luring Alema toward the aft escape pod, Han blows it and knocks her out.
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  • So, the Jedi Temple is on Coruscant.  What is Ossus…is that where the academy is?  Where the Jedi have their picnics?

 
 


#27
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 26:
 
At the Jedi Academy on Ossus, Luke and Mara give Aristocra Chaf’orm’bintrani a tour.  Luke tells him that the Woodoos are the youngest students, ranging from 5-7, depending on species.  Formbi asks where their son is.  Mara admits that Ben doesn’t attend the academy.
 
Formbi finds that odd as he understood Ben is seven years old right now.  Luke explains that Ben is withdrawing from the Force right now for unknown reasons.  No child is forced to attend the academy.
 
For those who do attend, employment can be arranged for their parents here and the students can develop at their own pace.  Formbi finds this interesting, but he doesn’t think he was invited her to discuss how Jedi train.  They admit that they actually did because they want the Ascendancy to see how a modern Jedi trains.
 
He suspects he is supposed to be so impressed that he will convince the Ruling Circle to let the Jedi handle the problem at Qoribu.  Nevertheless, he agrees to listen to them, noting that Artoo-Detoo nearby seems to be having some problems.
 
Luke admits it’s a faulty memory chip that Luke doesn’t want repaired until he can remove some important information from it.  Trouble is, Artoo keeps scheduling himself for chip replacement so Luke has to keep him with him at all times until Zakarisz Ghent, the Alliance ’s best slicer, arrives.
 
Past the Rontos and onto the 12-year old Banthas who are practicing using the Force on a small nerf, Formbi asks why they are involving themselves in affairs outside the GA.  Luke believes that Jedi serve the Force, not just the Galactic Alliance.  Their concerns reach at least into the Colony.
 
The older students are battling with lightsabers and are known only as apprentices.  Formbi even indulges a group of students leaping over him before explaining that the Chiss still value their long-standing tradition of not being the aggressor.  However, they need to understand the Colony’s true nature.
 
In comparing notes, it is realized that the Colony, which had been expanding over the centuries, monitored by the Defense Fleet, began to change 6 or 7 years ago.  They’d never had much concern for life, but some newfound respect for it caused a huge population increase.  The food shortages that had kept the population in check and the abandonment of the injured was no longer an issue for them.  Still, the Chiss didn’t start acting until later.
 
They pass a group of older students being trained to ignore their emotions as a teacher tosses food and other objects at them while insulting them. 
 
Formbi goes on to remind them of the conflict with the Vagaari that resulted from their attack during the Outbound Flight mission.  There had been 9 Ruling Families at the time.  Now, there are only four.  The Third Vagaari War had left a labor shortage that the families filled by hiring entire nests from the Colony.  This was a couple of years before Raynar arrived.  Though precautions were taken to prevent Chiss from falling into Joiner mode, something happened that caused those to break down.  Two entire families became Joiners and three had become so dependent on insect labor that it caused a huge disagreement. 
 
It was that which was the motivation behind the attack on Baron Soontir Fel that the Skywalkers were a part of.  They ask if the Killiks were responsible for the disappearance of the Empire of the Hand.  Formbi explains that they served the purpose Thrawn intended, but that was not against the Colony.
 
He cannot say what the threat really was, but he expects they will hear from the Empire again when one of the other Terrors of the Unknown Regions rears its head.  Luke is saddened to learn this and asks about Chak Fel.  Formbi confirms that only Jagged and Wyn are left of the Fels’ children. 
 
Mara asks about Cem whom Formbi did not know about and guesses this is the Fels’ shadow child.  It’s common among the Chiss to hide one offspring to prevent entire families from being wiped out.  He supposes Wyn revealed this sibling as she’s notorious for spilling secrets.
 
Luke takes time to bring Artoo back on track with him before Formbi admits he’s really seen nothing here to lead him to believe that they understand the Killik situation any better than his people do.  Luke and Mara explain how Cilghal has determined how the Killik collective mind works, but much of that has already been discovered by Chiss scientists. He tells them how the telepathy works within a single nest, but those from other nests but communicate via language.  However, this entire Colony seems subject to a single Will. All nests are affected and are purposed to expand.
 
This Will appeared about 6 or 7 years ago when they began caring for their injured and hungry.  Mara and Luke know that this Will has to be Raynar.  Luke also strongly suspects that Formbi came to find that out.  They warn him that killing the Prime will not solve the situation. 
 
That’s when Artoo interrupts with a garbled transmission from Leia telling them that Saba has been injured, there are stowaways that may be after them.  Mara goes to find Ben quickly.  Formbi, realizing they are going to be busy, explains that an escort has been sent by Chief of State Omas to accompany him to Coruscant.
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  • This book has already stated that Ben is 8, not 7.  So, he wouldn’t be a Woodoo, probably a Ronto, which doesn’t negate the fact that he doesn’t attend the academy...which is, apparently, on Ossus.

  • Formbi was in Survivor’s Quest.

  • So was Chak Fel

  • The attack on the Fels occurred in The Final Prophecy.

 


#28
Jedi Cool

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chapter 27:
 
It’s difficult to keep Alema imprisoned while they make their way back to GA space. Leia is not happy to find out that they are less than 20 light years from their goal and the Falcon can’t go any further.
 
Everytime they engage the hyperdrive, the navicomputer detects a mass fluctuation and shuts down.  Leia gives Alema a hypo to put her under and has him to check if the fluctuation is still there.  It’s possible she was responsible.  Leia can’t assume that her message to Luke and Mara got through, if there’s a stowaway aboard their ship or if the other Jedi are as far gone as she is.
 
He tells her to be careful to keep Alema alive.  If this is happening to Jaina or Zekk, it will be useful for Cilghal to be able to examine Alema and fix the problem. 
 
While Juun works on the hyperdrive problem, Leia notes that the planet they’d landed on would be pefect for the Ithorians to locate to.  It’s outside GA space so they may not have to worry about planet jumpers.
 
Suddenly a fleet of Hapan ships emerges and orders the Falcon to prepare to be impounded. They back down when they realize that the mother of Jacen Solo, the Queen Mother’s new consort, is on board.  He has convinced her to intervene at the Colony.
 
Han slaps his forehead and mutters how he thinks he knows his son and now the kid is trying to start a war.
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#29
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chapter 28:
 
Mara enters the Skywalkers’ cottage and asks Ben if he brought a pet Killik back from the colony.  Ben admits he has a friend and shows her Gorog, a blue-skinned Killik whom Ben understands very well.
 
Mara is furious, especially knowing how the Joiner mind links work.  She has to order Ben out of the kitchen when her son becomes terrified that she’s going to kill his friend.  Even Gorog persuades Ben to leave before she and Mara battle it out.
 
Mara warns her she promised Ben she wouldn’t kill her, not hurt her.  It takes a great battle to bring down the Killik, just as Luke and a number of apprentices come in.  Mara is fine, but tired of people telling her not to squash the bug.
 
Luke explains the comm. center has ungarbled some of Leia’s message.  She says it could explode.
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  • What could explode…the ship? The Killik?

 
 


#30
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chapter 29:
 
The four Jedi are reclining in chairs being scanned.  The Killik Mara had captured and Alema Rar, who had arrived on the Falcon the day before, are both sedated.  Luke expresses his concern that Han and Leia are going to return to Qoribu as soon as the Falcon is repaired and he’d like to have some answers by then.
 
They are not going to leave their daughter there and Luke rather agrees.  Cilghal admits she has a hypothesis to test and that requires hurting Alema and Gorog.  Not for long and nothing that leaves a lasting damage, but it’s the only way.
 
There was a time when Luke would never have allowed it and Cilghal would never have requested it.  Now that they are embracing the entire Force, they do what they have to do in the name of promoting peace.  He occasionally still feels that they are losing their way, the Yuuzhan Vong war turning them from their true path.
 
He wonders if Palpatine started off this way.
 
Cilghal shows him how each subject display similar activity in their cortices which indicates they are experiencing the same physical sensations.  Since each chamber has different stimuli in it, that really shouldn’t be happening.  Jacen’s readings are pointless because he keeps using the Force to change the color of the brain scans, indicative of his belief that this experiment is unnecessary.
 
However, Alema and Gorob have hypothalamuses that are correlating to each other. That is true only of these two.  They are perceiving each other’s emotions the same way Jedi do in a meld.  This Killik is Force-sensitive in a way.  Her nest can use the Force to hide their presences not only from the Jedi, but from other Killiks, too.
 
She needs to find out if they can use the Force to pass impulses to other members of the Colony outside their nest.  This is why she needs to inflict pain.  Luke allows her to do this as slowly the other subjects’ readings begin to change.
 
Mara reaches out to Luke with concern and he knows that this may be upsetting to Ben.  He’s angry at the Killik for trying to use his son against him.  Suddenly, Tekli jumps up and says she’s needs the refresher.  Tahiri is next, wanting a break, then Tesar.  Tahiri notes what they are doing and quips that she’s not the only one who came out of the war with Yuuzhan Vong traits.
 
She doesn’t feel any pain, but, considering her brain cells are part Vong, that isn’t much help.  Tesar doesn’t either, though, and this is what Cilghal needed to know.  She cuts the probe off. 
 
Luke is disappointed, knowing that Tesar and others are completely under Raynar’s control, having returned here only to have opportunities to sneak off and recruit help for the Colony.  Cilghal explains that they are under a Will of some kind, but it may not be the Will that the Chiss think.
 
She goes to describe how each being as a conscious mind and unconscious mind.  The Colony has developed two Wills since the war.  The unconscious will remains fully hidden and this is what controls Alema and Gorog.  The others are influenced by the Colony’s conscious will but are no controlled by it yet.
 
The Conscious Will of the Colony doesn’t know the Unconsious Will exists.  That’s why the Gorog are hard to sense in the Force.  They use it to hide from the Colony which doesn’t believe it exists.  Raynar’s motivations are genuine:  he wants help.  But Lomi and Welk do not…and they are the ones who control the Gorog nest.  Luke tells Jacen to stop playing around with the brain scanner and come out to talk if he’s going to listen in anyway.
 
Jacen confirms that the fact that he knows Raynar pulled them both out of the crash and that Saba was attacked by a figure with a lightsaber are good indicators that both survived.  They just don’t know why Alema is influenced by Gorog while the other three are still Taat.  Jacen is an aberration as his mind doesn’t seem to be influenced by anyone.
 
Luke, however, thinks he knows what happened to Alema.  Her anguish over the death of her sister, Numa, led her to internalize her anger.  Luke had known long ago how dangerous that was and it makes her vulnerable to Lomi Plo.
 
Jacen realizes that Luke saw this coming.  His uncle admits that, while he didn’t know about Gorog, he did know that, someday, Alema would fall.
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  • Alema’s sister, Numa, was killed by voxyn in Rebirth.  It was in that book that Luke knew that Alema would eventually fall.  I’ve had fun since then questioning why she was elevated to Jedi Knight and continually sent on missions instead of having someone intervene for her.

  • I’m also wondering why Jacen hasn’t been as influenced as the others and why Luke keeps putting up with him playing around with the brain scanner.  Isn’t Jacen like 26 years old?

 


#31
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chapter 30:
 
 
In the Rhysode Room at the academy on Ossus, Leia is welcoming the Council of Ithorian Elders when GA security appears, scans the room and allows a hurried Chief of State Omas into the room. He has arrived on short notice, being unable to speak to the Jedi on Coruscant, wishing to speak to the masters.
 
It seems that a Hapan battle group has arrived at the Lizil nest and Aristocra Formbi would like to know why.  He is unhappy to find out that Leia and Han encountered this fleet and said nothing about it.  Considering that their son was responsible for convincing the Queen Mother to intervene, he would have assumed they would know what’s behind all this.
 
Jacen walks in and admits that he convinced Tenel Ka to do this because it was the right thing to do.  He believes that his reasons are sound.  The Chiss only understand power.  Now that the Killik have some, the Chiss will have to step back and think about their next action. 
 
Omas tells him that the Chiss are threatening to withdraw their security patrols if the GA doesn’t bring the Jedi back under their control.  This starts a debate over whether or not the Jedi Order answers to the Galactic Alliance first and foremost or to their understanding of a broader Force.
 
Omas threatens to cut the funding to the Jedi, especially if they have to make up for border patrols that the Chiss remove.  Kyp notes they now have to decide if they are Jedi or mercenaries and that starts the argument again.  Leia notes that the Ithorian elders, ignored by the Galactic Alliance for so long, are being overlooked again.  She has a solution to the Colony problem, but that means cheating the Ithorians again.
 
Luke stops the argument and explains to Omas that he must realize that this decision is hard because the Chiss are not acting based on what the Killiks are doing but what they might do.  Omas doesn’t care.  This conflict between the Chiss and the Colony is no one’s business, but the acts of a few morally-troubled Jedi are making that their business.
 
Kam and Tionne Solusar appear, startled by the agitation in the Force.  Luke quickly explains the problem.  Leia interjects with her thoughts on the planets they found on the way here.  The Ithorians understand this was to be an offer originally intended for them, but they are a patient people and give their consent to her. 
 
If the Hapans can use their ships to help relocate the nests, they can move to those worlds instead.  They may get some resistance from the Dark Nest, though.  They explain to Chief Omas about a power struggle within the Colony.  Han thinks he can find the nest, though.  Luke adds that he will have to take a Jedi team to neutralize the nest and Omas will have to reassure the Chiss then. 
 
In exchange, Han and Leia demand that Omas annul the claim that RePlanetHab has made on the world of Borao which had originally been intended for the Ithorians.  Omas isn’t sure what he can do but the Jedi stand fast to this offer and he is forced to relent.  Leia is unhappy at having to make this deal as it ushers her back into politics again.
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  • This is the second reference to the Alliance paying for the Jedi.  Remember in the Old Republic books where we got conflicting information as to whether the Jedi were supported by private donations or by the taxpaying public?  It would seem that there’s really no question here that they are supported by the GA government, despite not wanting to be answerable to it. 

 
 
 
 


#32
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chapter 31:
 
Though caught up in the dance the night before and having retreated to the Joiner dormitories, Jaina and Zekk hadn’t done much more beyond cuddling.  It didn’t feel like themselves, though.  Zekk had loved her since they were young, but Jaina doesn’t share those feelings.  He still feels that he took advantage of her.
 
Jaina reminds him that they just lost control for a short time.  She’s rather glad Alema went home with her parents.  Raynar is standing at the edge of the walkway, staring.  She asks if he’s come down to see how the drones live.
 
He asks her why she still calls him Raynar and Jaina answers that she can sense Raynar is still inside.  The being now known as UnuThul admits he probably does and will be sorry to see them go.  It’s time for Jaina and Zekk to leave. 
 
They know the Chiss are coming because it’s in the nest mind.  Raynar explains there is nothing more they can do.  He does not wish them to be caught up in this fight.  He tries to compel them to leave, but Jaina realizes they are planning an ambush.  Zekk warns him the Chiss will just come back with a larger fleet.  Raynar drops his influence and tells them they have to stay now.  Not willing to leave without Lowbacca anyway, they are nonplussed about the change.
 
Raynar explains that Jacen convinced Tenel Ka to send a Hapan fleet here.  They only need to hold off until it arrives.  Jaina realizes the Chiss know this, too, and are trying to destroy the nests first.  She asks if he told Jacen to do this.  Raynar points out that Jacen is beyond anyone’s control by now. 
 
Jaina know this, too.  Jacen’s control over the Force has only gotten stronger in the last five years.  To be honest, it’s giving her the creeps.  Zekk doesn’t think Jacen would send a fleet of ship as it would only exacerbate the situation with the Chiss.
 
Raynar points out that the safety of the nests is a priority.  They are welcome to leave when the battle begins, but, for now, he wants them to stay here.  That feeling of compulsion returns and Jaina nearly recoils at the brutality in his tone.  Zekk bolsters her through the meld.
 
Jaina and Zekk tell Raynar that Lomi and Welk are the ones who want war.  They are who convinced him to establish nests so close to the Chiss frontier.  Raynar tells them that the two Dark Jedi are dead.  It is clear he is being blinded to the truth.  Raynar Thul is gone.
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  • I seem to recall that Jaina really had a thing for Zekk in the YJK books, too. Young love being what it was, she grew up and met Jagged Fel later.  Very possible that Zekk kept that torch aflame, though.

  • This concept of Jacen becoming stronger in the Force is interesting.  Doubtless, he learned much on his travels, but he seems to be less mature in many ways.

 


#33
Jedi Cool

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chapter 32:
 
Alema Rar has stolen a skiff to escape the academy.  Right now, Luke, Mara, Han and Leia, along with several others are on the hangar floor, seeing what they can do to stop her.
 
Ben knows that Gorog is with her and begs them to get her back.  His parents remind him that the pursuing pilots need to be careful not to damage the ship so much that they hurt Gorog.  When the ship enters hyperspace, Luke asks if Ben can feel Gorog in his mind.
 
Ben admits that he can and that she wants him to be happy.  They are alarmed that Ben may be influenced by a Dark Nest Killik.  After he’s told to go get something to drink, Ben asks if there’s going to be another war.  He thinks that he’s going to be dumped off on the other masters while his parents go running around, never visiting.
 
Luke and Mara remind him that this was done to keep him safe.  They are concerned, however, that his issues with the Force may have something to do with the separation anxiety he had suffered during the war.  Jacen assures him there won’t be a war and that he will be staying anyway. 
 
They walk off together, Leia glad to see Jacen’s empathy is still intact.  Both she and Luke have to marvel that, after all he suffered at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong, it’s surprising he has any empathy left.
 
Now that Ben is gone, they can talk about how they had let Alema escape, bugging all the ships here just in case.  The intent is to follow her to the Dark Nest and eliminate Welk and Lomi Plo.  It’s rather ruthless, but it’s consistent with the modern Jedi who learned from the Yuuzhan Vong the folly of valuing sentiment over effectiveness.  Luke has to wonder if they have become too much like their enemies.
 
Han nearly runs into Ghent who appears suddenly.  He found a few seconds of a holo.  Luke and Leia excitedly ask to see it now.  It’s a brief conversation between Obi-Wan Kenobi and a woman named Padme about how moody and detached Anakin has become since being named the Chancellor’s representative.  Obi-Wan also notes that they aren’t good about hiding their feelings for each other, either.
 
That’s all Ghent got before tripping a security gate that caused R2 to encrypt the rest.  He can get the rest, but it will require a personality wipe.  Artoo hasn’t had a memory wipe in decades.  Luke asks about the spyware preventing him from accessing the memories.  Ghent tells him there isn’t any. 
 
For some reason, Artoo thinks he’s protecting Luke by holding the information back.  Artoo units were designed to military standards that allow data to be destroyed before it falls into unauthorized hands.  If he tries to force access, the entire chip will be reformatted.  There’s a way to get around it if he can get Intellex Four designer’s datapad.  The designer had to have a way to access data for his prototypes. 
 
Unfortunately, the designer is unknown. The Artoo unit was an Imperial design and their top scientists were kept secret.  The designer did consult with Incom on the Artoo units when their staff defected to the Rebellion.  No other modifications had been made to the droid since then because the designer disappeared.
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  • This book was written two months after RoTS and 6 years after TPM which established that, whatever R2’s design was, it was not Imperial-based as the Empire did not exist at the time.

  • The conversation between Obi-Wan and Padme references two important topics:  Anakin becoming the Chancellor’s representative which is affecting his mood and his relationship with Padme.  This conversation did not appear on film or in the novelization.

  • I also agree with Luke and several other characters in this book who have expressed concern about the path the Jedi are taking. 

 


#34
Jedi Cool

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chapter 33:
 
Jaina and Zekk know this conflict will make their jobs as Jedi more difficult, but they are glad that the Colony is fighting back.  A freighter bearing the insignia of Bornaryn Trading Company arrives, escorted by E-Wings.
 
Jaina thinks to Zekk that the freighter will just make things worse.  Zekk agrees they should try.  They both agree they’d rather sit here.  In her mind, Jaina knows this is wrong.  Deep inside, Jacen is urging her to break the Colony’s hold on her.  She gets up to clear her mind
 
Jacen spurs her to remember how Welk and Lomi Plo had tricked their team on Myrkr and had stolen the ship, abandoning Anakin to die.  She is allowing those same persons to control her mind.  Jaina reminds him that the whole Colony knows that only Raynar survived.
 
Still, a black fury fills her mind and she remembers how she had succumbed to her anger when going to retrieve Anakin’s body.  That same fury makes her want to find them and kill them.  She knows she cannot do this now, though, because she has to stop the war.
 
Zekk reminds her that they cannot stop it now.  She fills his mind with her anger.  He agrees to help her.  Both rush to their StealthXs.  Killiks surround them and slow them down.  The two Jedi use the Force to push passed them until something inside them pushes back.  They hang for several minutes, pushing against the Colony. 
 
Jaina reaches in and urges Zekk to keep trying, then she gives in and tells him she is going back to the barracks because she’s not as strong as him.  Inside, she contemplates the beauty of the Killik mind and recognizes how perfect things would be if the Colony won a war.  She knows this means she is becoming a Joiner, but worries the Colony cannot win.
 
She gets an image of the Killiks unloading supplies from the Bornaryn ship.  She decides to wait until Unu needs a Jedi to help.  When Unu and the Taat leave her mind, she gets an image of Jagged Fel in her head, hoping to touch him through the Force as she had in the past.
 
She brushes his mind, knowing he won’t trust her, and sends a challenge to come and get her.  
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#35
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chapter 34:
 
Han tells Leia that the good news is that they are just in time for the war.  Juun and Tarfang are on board, wondering if this means Han is going back to smuggling.  That is out of the question, but Han has brought Juun along because he would make a good co-pilot and Juun wouldn’t come without Tarfang.  Additionally, he has become convinced that he is keeping Leia away from her destiny.  It’s obvious the Galactic Alliance needs her.
 
They note the tactical display which identify two fleets, one Hapan, one Chiss.  There are tons of dartships in between plus other ships, as well.  Alema is somewhere out there, moving insystem.  Luke and Mara emerge from hyperspace in their StealthXs.  Kyp and Saba are with them. 
 
The Falcon is hailed by both the Hapan commander and Jagged Fel.  Leia decides to conference them both in at the same time.  She explains how it is believed the Dark Nest is holding power over the Colony via the two Dark Jedi who had abducated Raynar Thul at Myrkr.  She does not tell them that they suspect the nest is trying to absorb Alema Rar.
 
As it is, the Jade Shadow is headed to the world Kr to breach the Nest.  When the place is swarmed by dartships, the Hapan commander insists on sending ships to help over the protests of Jag Fel. 
 
They argue over who is better positioned to help the Skywalkers before Jag’s superiors refuse to broker any Hapan incursion into their jurisdiction.
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#36
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chapter 35:
 
Approaching Kr, Luke and Mara think they see what they are looking for when Luke’s R9 astromech sounds an attack alarm.  Gorog dartships are pursuing them.  Luke spirals down a long icy shaft, with Mara on his tail.  It’s quiet here and that bothers them.  Something has to have been left to defend the nest.
 
They fire a couple of proton torpedoes, knowing Alema might be in here, but not too overly concerned because she brought this on herself.
 
Leia believes they need help.  Han points out they are Jedi and she reminds him that Jedi have things go wrong, too.  They have Threepio bring out the EV suits, while Saba works on minor damage to the Falcon.
 
Han flies the ship under Leia’s direction until she finds the signature of the proton torpedoes.  Han slips under the moon as Threepio hails the Chiss clawcraft and tells them that the Falcon is a neutral ship.
 
In the midst of the wreckage of the skiff, there’s no way to tell if Alema or the Gorog had been aboard, but Mara assumes they’ve escaped.  Mara jumps out of her damaged StealthX to take a look while Luke lands.
 
She asks if he thinks they should both try to squeeze into his ship and sneak off.  Luke doesn’t believe they are going to be able to skip past the dartships.  Suddenly, a shock wave hurls Luke and Mara against a wall.
 
Her suit is fine, but Luke’s has a small leak somewhere.  Dartships begin to land, so Mara sets the self-destruct on the StealthX and they take off.
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#37
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chapter 36:
 
Luke and Mara move along in zero-g.  The Gorog begin pouring through in every direction.  Luke answers them with blasterfire before they decide to use their lightsabers instead.
 
Luke’s suit has about 15 minutes of air left, so he recommends they leave the next pressure hatch intact.
 
Han moves the Falcon toward Kr and has a quick chat with the Chiss to verify what he’s doing.  They fly into the shaft, Han checking the tractor beam and asks Tarfang if they are ready.
 
He moves the ship toward the first dartships in the hangar and has Juun activate the switch.  The polarity of the tractor beam is reversed, drawing power on the shields.  The pressure pushes dartships out of the way, some exploding against the icy walls.
 
Then he stops the ship and has Juun shift power back to the shields.
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#38
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 37:
 
As the battle continues, Jaina and Zekk don’t really pay attention.  UnuThul had been angry about the spoiled ambush and implanted the compulsion to find Lowbacca and leave.
 
They can sense Luke and Mara, Jaina’s mother and Kyp.  UnuThul had to know and they wonder why he hid it from them.  Searching through the Force, they find Lowie on the southern pole of Qoribu where the Chiss command group is located.
 
Into a large vault, they restore pressure.  Mara uses the Force to push Gorog Killiks back and they consider taking dartships.  Unfortunately, they realize that the Falcon is probably inside the nest.
 
As they look around at the dark-blue membrosia givers clamped to the ceiling, oozing dark liquid, Alema appears.  She won’t let them leave.
 
A wall of warriors appears at the mouth of the tunnels, larger than the pilots and armed with tridents and assault rifles.  Mara feels angry and tells Alema that her masters are going to wish they had died in the crash.
 
Out of the Falcon come four YVH droids on loan from Lando, Kyp, Saba , Octa Ramis and Kyle Katarn, then Han and Leia.  They follow the tunnel through the damage Luke and Mara caused.
 
The droids begin engaging the enemy as soon as they are spotted.  When dartships fly up the tunnel, Han opens fire, asking Leia if he’s ever told her how much he hates bugs.
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#39
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 38:
 
The Chiss are retreating as Zekk and Jaina fly toward the southern pole.  The two Jedi know this is a show and that they should probably warn UnuThul.  Their directive was to retrieve Lowbacca and leave, but they know their mission as Jedi should be to prevent a war.
 
Doing nothing might get UnuThul killed.  It’s impossible to know if the Colony would return to normal after that.  Zekk thinks this feels as if they are betraying the Colony.  Jaina agrees.  They consider that, if UnuThul dies, Lomi Plo or Welk might become the new Prime and that would be bad for the rest of the galaxy. 
 
They decide to warn him, but his will presses down to rescue Lowbacca.  They press back, but it’s Leia who reaches out instead.  They see that she is under attack by blue-black Killiks, but this confuses them.
 
Leia communicates that they are in a secret nest in Kr.  They do not understand this until she reminds them of Saba.  Jaina and Zekk realize that there was always an excuse by UnuThul about the mysterious goings-on.  Maybe he was hiding a secret nest or just didn’t want to believe it existed.
 
They want to help Leia, but they cannot risk the Dark Jedi overwhelming the Colony.  They decide to do this the hard way.  Lowie will understand because he’s a Jedi.  Unu contacts them and explains they do not have to abandon their search for their friend.  He will listen to them but then they have to leave for betraying the Colony’s trust.
 
They tell him the Chiss are trying to draw them into the open.  Zekk suggests the Great Swarm take a minute to regroup when they reach the South Pole.  Hoping Unu will believe them, they move off.
 
Zekk observes that their boyfriend, Jag, means business. Jaina reminds him it’s their ex-boyfriend.  Zekk agrees that they are over him.  And, after all, he is just following orders.
 
Unfortunately, the Chiss have realized their bait isn’t working like they thought, so they pull off, Lowbacca vanishing with the Dreadnought in hyperspace.
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#40
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Jedi Cool

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chapter 39:
 
In a chamber crammed with dead Gorog, more come pushing through bodies.  Mara and Luke sink into a battle trance, drawing closer to Alema Rar.  Luke brings a membrosia giver down on her and is saddened to see her use her lightsaber on it.
 
Mara tells him it’s time to go after the Dark Jedi.  Luke needs to get rid of Alema and she will cover.  He is shocked by Alema’s ruthlessness, at how her line had been crossed by degrees and intentions.  He might have condoned her actions had it been someone else.  As it is, this is just another example that makes him wonder what the Jedi have become.
 
He decides to start undoing it now.  He prevails to Alema how she can be forgiven and come back home.  He will help her find the way back.  She insists she doesn’t want to come.  Luke reminds her that Numa would have been the first to warn her about her anger.
 
He feels fear and sees Gorogs closing in on Mara.  He presses the attack to force Alema back toward Mara. He uses the Force to knock her lightsaber aside and pull her towad him.  She falls off balance onto his own weapon which slices down into her shoulder.
 
He kicks her out of the way and summons her lightsaber to him.  Battling toward Mara, he finds her vac suit in tatters.  Mara looks up and Alema is floating above them, her left arm toward her side.  Mara sends several bolts toward her, but Luke is too busy fighting Gorog to see if any hit their mark.
 
Leia is only able to wield her lightsaber through the strength Saba is sending her through the Force.  Han is out of power packs and has commandeered one of the Killik’s rifles, one is each hand.
 
The YVH droids have exhausted their repair ingots.  Only Saba seems to grow stronger and quicker.  Leia asks Han if the droids have thermal detonators and has him tell them to use them. 
 
The rescue team pushes through the tunnels quickly, fighting off electrobolts that cause wounds as they hit.  Leia tells Han that Jaina is coming.  She’s pretty sure that Jaina and Zekk are Joiners.
 
Han shoots into hand to hand fights between the Gorog and the Jedi Masters with such skill that they start using the Force to shove Killik to him.  When the way is clear, Han shouts for them to run, but Luke and Mara jump into a tunnel with five large ugly Killiks.
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#41
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chapter 40:
 
Zekk and Jaina fly toward Kr, feeling Leia and the other Jedi.  Their ships slip through the entrance of the tunnels, past the Millennium Falcon which is taking fire from Killik electrobolts.
 
They struggle to grasp this, to believe that a nest would attack the ship without reason. Of course, it’s easy to believe that the ship would provoke an attack.  Still, there are the recent unprovoked attacks in other places.
 
They open fire on the Gorogs, pop their canopies and the two Noghri drop out of the Falcon’s hatch.  Then the ion drives glow and Threepio comes over the comm. complaining that the deranged Ewok is attempting to steal the ship.
 
The ship begins to fly toward the exit.  Jaina arms a proton torpedo and Zekk does the same.  By this time, alarms are probably going off on the Falcon.  Jae Junn comms back to explain the droid was wrong, they are only moving the ship out of the line of fire.  He suddenly cuts off, asking what is going on.
 
The two Jedi know that he can feel the pressure of Unu’s will, just as they can.  The Falcon  slips away from the exit as a small frigate blocks it.  Unu demands to know who did this.
 
Mara and Luke find paralyzed Chiss captives in the Gorog larvae.  Many are dead and mostly devoured.  Luke wonders if Raynar even knows about this.  Mara turns to find Alema pointing an electrobolt at her.  She uses the Force to launch blue Force lightning at Alema, blasting the rifle. 
 
She feels uneasiness from Luke who only admits he’s thinking. He ignites his lightsaber and deflects blasterfire.  A hump-shouldered man with a melted face and an insect arm slips out.  He admits he thought Force lightning was above Master Skywalker and his Jedi.
 
Mara tells Welk they make exceptions.
 
Mara hears a flutter and tells Luke there’s something flying around in here.  Something pulls her through the Force, twirling her across the room.  She pulls her lightsaber which suddenly turns cold.  Luke moves at Welk with both his and Alema’s lightsabers.
 
Mara draws her blaster an fires a bolt into a larvae’s head.  She is pulled around by a small Gorog that she knows is the one she fought on Ossus.  She’s unhappy, knowing that the nest will be communicating with Ben the death of every Gorog. 
 
She decides he will have to get over it
 
Meanwhile, Luke is dealing with Welk.   Since the fluttering produces the same cold lightsaber hilt as before, when the blade sputters out, Luke wonders if Lomi Plo is behind it.  He rights him, slashed by Welk’s red blade in the shin, then readies to use the Force to choke Welk. He remembers Alema’s callous dispatching of the membrosia giver and asks himself if he has gotten so used to killing that he is forgetting there are other ways to defend himself.
 
He releases Welk, despite Mara’s urging to finish him off.  Luke tells her that he won’t do it this way.  The Force may have no light or dark but he does.  Tossing Alema’s saber aside, he uses his own until it dies out, too.
 
Luke speeds up, twirls into Welk, forcing the latter’s lightsaber into his side. He turns around, Welk’s saber in his hand to parry Lomi but no one is there. 
 
The YVH droids burst through and order them to remain stationary until help arrives.
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#42
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chapter 41:
 
Leia does her best to salve their wounds until they can get to the Falcon.  Jaina, Zekk and Raynar arrive.  Raynar demand to know why they have slaughtered this nest.
 
Leia takes Raynar through the nest and shows him the imprisoned and dying Chiss.  She explains to him that the Dark Nest did this and that it’s been influencing him to build nests on Qoribu.  They are using the Force just as he used it to influence Jaina and the others.
 
The part of UnuThul that is Raynar understands this too well.  The Dark Nest was begun by Lomi Plo and Welk whom Raynar knew before.  They survived the crash because Jacen saw him dragging them out.  Raynar remembers seeing Jacen for a moment on the bridge of the ship and it gave him the strength to continue.
 
Lomi was afraid and wanted to hide. She thought that Anakin or Master Skywalker would come after her.  They tell him that Cilghal has theorized that, when a nest swallows someone who is Force-sensitive, they take on some of the personality.  The Yoggoy absorbed Raynar’s value on individual life and used it to care for their injured and starving.  Lomi’s desire to hide must have been absorbed by the Gorog which became a secret nest.
 
Raynar realizes he is responsible for the creation of the Dark Nest.  Han assures him that he could not have known what would have happened by saving the other two.  Raynar is heartend to know this is not his fault.  The collective mind begins to influence him again and he starts to muse that this whole thing is a Chiss ruse.  They are ruthless after all.
 
Leia is stunned at how he is trying to work out another story.  He speculates that the Gorog were forced to fight.  Assuming that Raynar’s brain is breaking down, she decides to take control of this situation.  She thinks they have another explanation.  Raynar’s heavy presence bears down on her.  She realizes he is very damaged on the inside and had been overcome with shock, disassociating himself from everything to do with the situation.
 
Continuing on about Lomi and Welk will not help, so she takes a different approach. 
Leia suggests that the Chiss created the nest without realizing it.  The Chiss culture is defined by war.  Since the Qoribu nests are filled with Chiss Joiners, a nest that gets too many becomes Dark.  It’s important not to take any more Chiss into the Kind.  This will be difficult if they go to war with the Ascendancy since there will prisoners to take care of. 
 
There is an alternative, though.  They can move their nests to uninhabited worlds that the Solos found recently.  The Hapans will be happy to transport them.  Raynar knows what’s happening here and tells them they are as bad as Jaina.  That’s why she is not welcome in her nest anymore. 
 
Han asks if he’s going to fight a nasty war or get a free ride to a new world.
 
Raynar agrees.
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#43
Jedi Cool

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Epilogue:
 
The group listens to a song that Threepio explains is about the creation of the Maw.  Dukat Gray appears and marvels that the Killiks claim to have built the thing.  Leia points out that Killik memories are very flexible.
 
Zekk and Jaina, speaking in tandem, note they will miss the Taat since their mission is now over.  But they aren’t coming home yet.  Gray produces Lowbacca.  His adjutant brings a transmission from Aristocra Formbi who tells Luke that Commander Fel is responsible for securing Lowie’s release.  However, Fel personally guaranteed the parole, so if Lowbacca returns, the Fel family will be responsible for paying any damages caused to the Ascendancy. 
 
Formbi does congratulate them on their agreement which has secured peace.  Jaina and Zekk wish to speak to Jag.  Jag is happy to see Jaina, but disturbed to see Zekk in the hologram, too.  They continue speaking for each other and in the plural.  The odd conversation stilted, formal and not at all indicative of two people who were once in love.  Jag signs off, unhappy.  Jaina and Zekk are saddened, too.  Han, watching all this, can only feel a chill.
 
Gray tells Leia that it’s a pity she’s not serving the Galactic Alliance still.  It’s clear that she could bring a lot to that government.  Leia assures Han that, though it is time for a change, she’s tired of compromising in the world of politics.  It is time for her to finish her Jedi training and asks Saba to teach her. 
 
Saba is flattered, not really believing it, at first, but accepts.
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  • Hasn’t Leia been a Jedi Knight for, like 20 years now?  Didn’t Luke say she was?  We’ve been over this before.  Obviously, Leia did not complete her training, has virtually no skills in the Force beyond a few lightsaber moves and, maybe, the ability to do telekinesis, so I never understood why Luke told her she was finished and gave her a couple of lightsabers.  So now Leia is actually going to complete her training with Saba.  Okay, fair enough, I guess.  (Note: this book was published and the summary listed above were both written years ago and based on resources available at the time, long before the flashback events in The Rise of Skywalker settled the extent of Leia's training)

 
 




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