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The Dark Nest Trilogy Book 2: "The Unseen Queen"

chapter discussion thread

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#1
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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 Prologue:
 
Jaina Solo and Zekk have been sent to Bespin to route out Tibanna gas thieves.  The presences in the Force are individual which makes them sad because they miss their Taat colony.  They would never have changed their decision to avert a war, but it did get them banished from the nest.
 
It’s like being cut off from family and friends.  Still, they have each other.  Still with minds connected and finishing each other’s sentences.  When they board the ship, they find that the thieves are inside the vessel somewhere. There are nesting eggs over the floor and a dark muddy liquid that Zekk thinks is black membrosia.
 
Jaina touches it and confirms that’s what it is.  The Dark Nest has survived.  They find the thieves in a membrosia stupor.  The two Jedi spot a ship leaving and start to head to their Cloud Car when the station they are on begins to tip.  She tells him to forget about the thieves, they aren’t worth dying for.
 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • The time is 36 years ABY.  Jaina and Jacen are 27, Luke and Leia are about 55, Han is about 65.  The last book took several months, enough to have allowed another year to turn over.

 


#2
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 1:
 
On the planet Woteba, Han and Leia, Saba, the Skywalkers and the droids look around at the Saras nest.  The place is filled with Killik, spacers and Joiners, those who spent too much time with the nest, and many are intoxicated on membrosia.
 
They are here because Raynar Thul, now known as UnuThul, has summoned them with information on the Dark Nest that attacked them last year.  However, there is some pirate harboring and membrosia running that is causing problems for the Galactic Alliance.  Chief of State Omas is using this as a pretext to stall Senate approval of a new home for the Ithorians.
 
There appears to be an epidemic here with dying and dead bodies in the streets, some begging for a merciful death.  Raynar thinks they know about this since they were the ones who arranged for this world to be given them. 
 
Leia will not proceed without an agreement of trust between them.  She begins by reminding him that this world had originally been intended for the Ithorians, but the conflict between the Colony and the Chiss has resulted in a compromise that allowed the Colony to move here instead.  This arrangement has become public and people are blaming them and the Ithorians for the trouble the nests are causing out here.
 
Raynar doesn’t seem aware of any trouble.  Han accuses them of harboring pirates and spreading black membrosia which is affecting whole species of the insect citizens in the Alliance.  Luke notes that the Dark Nest had black membrosia and many captured pirates are confirming that they vessels are operating out of the Utegetu Nebula.
 
Raynar accuses GA scientists of engineering synthetic membrosia.  This is always a problem in dealing with the Killik.  It was almost impossible to convince Raynar last year that there had even been a Dark Nest.  Leia reminds him that it will take more than his assurances to convince the Chief of State that there is nothing going on out here.  He is willing to offer a trade agreement with the Colony if the problems stop.  Raynar is not interested in dealing what will amount with Alliance regulations.  He invited them here to discuss the Dark Nest vendetta.
 
Though most of the nest was destroyed, part of it still lives, but not enough to be supporting the activities they claim it is.  He reminds Mara of Daxar Ies who had been one of Palpatine’s targets when she was the Emperor’s Hand.  She had been discovered by the man’s wife and daughter when they came home early.  Although she finished the job, she didn’t recover the list and had been seen by witnesses.  She told them to go into hiding instead. 
 
Raynar claims the two Ies women, Beda and Eremay, created the Dark Nest.  This is another problem.  Once convinced that he is right, UnuThul often creates unlikely scenarios to explain away problems.  He had refused to accept that there could be a Dark Nest in the first place because it was too painful to think that his saving of the Dark Jedi, Welk and Lomi Plo, had resulted in its creation.  They had been forced to bend the truth and lead him to believe that it was created due to too many Chiss Joiners.  The result was that the Killiks plan to stay far away from the Chiss, something that has kept the peace between the two cultures for the past year.  Now, Raynar doesn’t think that’s it, at all.
 
When the Ies women fled into the Unknown Regions, they were absorbed by the Gorog and their fear led the nest into hiding.  Han points out he could have told them this last year and thinks this is just another made-up story.  However, Leia points out that he seems to know a lot more about this than he should.  It’s possible the attacks on them last year were spurred by a vendetta against Mara.
 
Though the Jedi seem willing to consider this, Han thinks it’s just a smoke screen.  Luke aks if Unu’s Will isn’t strong enough to change how the Gorog feel.  Raynar admits he’s too distracted by the Fizz epidemic right now.
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  • Though the story of Daxar Ies and his family sounds like it should be something related in a previous novel, comic or short story.  Yet this is actually the first mention of the incident.

 
 


#3
Jedi Cool

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chapter 2:
 
Inside the hangar, the group prepares to board the Falcon in the hopes that they can take off before Raynar can reconsider the agreement negotiated with Leia.  Luke points out that he will need Threepio and Artoo to analyze patterns in the attacks.  Han doesn’t see problem with that and plans to have the ship cold-started.
 
Luke makes sure it’s understood that they are staying since they gave UnuThul their word.  He is troubled by how quickly Alema Rar had been influenced by the Dark Nest.  It’s led him to believe that the war with the Yuuzhan Vong had changed the Jedi in ways more serious than the deaths.  The loss of a clear view of who they are and what they stand for has had an adverse effect on young Jedi. 
 
He thinks leaving now will only make solving future problems more difficult.  He and Han had agreed to stay in exchange for Mara, Leia and the others to leave peacefully.  Mara won’t leave without Luke, though.  Leia reminds her that, if the Dark Nest really wants her dead, she’s just making Han and Luke targets, too. 
 
Han isn’t sure that’s the case.  He asks about Daxar Ies.  Mara explains that he was a private accountant for the Emperor who embezzled two billion credits and hid them in accounts all over.  Unfortunately, she never found the list of accounts.
 
Luke urges her to go back to the academy and give Cilghal all the information she can about the Fizz.  The Falcon takes off, with Luke, Han and the droids behind.  As they leave the hangar, Luke gets a sense of danger.  He stands quietly and tries to feel the ripples in the Force around the threat so that it accounts for anyone hiding inside the Force.
 
He sends the others on and focuses on the ripples that are coming from nowhere.  He tells Alema Rar that he’s glad she survived the trouble at Kr.  It’s too much to assume she wants to come back to the Jedi, then asks if she is just letting him know that she and Lomi are still alive.
 
She maintains that Lomi and Welk died in the crash.   The person he killed at Kr was not Welk, but BedaGorog who was the Night Herald.  He reminds her that he killed a male who was able to use a lightsaber.  Alema tells him Beda was Force sensitive.
 
Luke tells her she disappoints him with these illusions.  What happened at the nest would haven’t occurred at all if she had done her duty as a Jedi.  He asks her to return with him.  She reaches for her lightsaber, Luke pulls it from her hand and Han drops her with a stun bolt.
 
Luke stops him from firing again, warning him that Alema is defenseless.  He tells Alema she could have fought this.  Though Jaina and Zekk are Joiners, they still remain Jedi.  She tells him he puts too much faith in others and that is his downfall.  She claims Mara is not being honest with him.  Daxar Ies was not an accountant, but the Imperial droid-brain designer responsible for the Intellex Four.
 
This could be the key to finding more about Luke’s mother.  Han is not convinced she is telling the truth.  Even if Ies was the droid designer behind the creation of the Artoo series, that doesn’t mean the holorecordings Anakin Skywalker made were of Luke’s mother.  She points out that it could be, though. 
 
She offers to display one of the holos and asks Artoo to show something that comfirms the identity of his parents.  She gives the file security override code when he refuses, explaining that Ies’s daughter, Eremay, never forgot a list of numbers or letters.
 
An image displays of Anakin and Padme speaking about the stress he’s been under, how he doesn’t feel the Jedi Council trusts him and his admission that he’s not satisfied with the life of a Jedi.  He also claims to be gaining more power through the Force that is enough to keep her from dying in childbirth.
 
Alema warns them not to try the code again.  It changes with each use and the file will be lost.  Once three are gone, the chip self-destructs.  Luke thinks that would unfortunate, but not disastrous.  In checking the Old Republic records, he and Leia have cross-referenced files and believe the woman was Padme Amidala, one-time queen and Senator from Naboo.
 
Alema counters that the Old Republic records will not answer all of his questions.  If he promises to leave the Gorog alone, she will give him an access code each week.  Luke will not place his personal interests above those of the Force.  Han adds that they aren’t looking for trouble with the nest, just to help with the Fizz.
 
She wants her lightsaber back.  He takes the crystal out and crushes it, handing the hilt back, telling her she’s not fit to carry one anymore.  She tells him she’ll just build another.  Luke promises to take that one away, too.
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Aha!  So there are Old Republic records that reference Padme!  That was probably always the case and, maybe, they just never had a starting point.  I’m still not convinced that there wasn’t someone who could have provided this information sooner.

 
 
 


#4
Jedi Cool

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chapter 3:
 
On Sullust, Chief of State Cal Omas and Jedi Masters Kenth Hamner and Kyp Durron attend the memorial service of former Supreme Commander Sien Sovv.  Omas takes the stand and promises that the Galactic Alliance will do what they can to bring those responsible for his death to justice.
 
After the ceremony, he expresses his concern that Master Skywalker couldn’t be here, too.  Kyp points out that implying that the Killiks were responsible for the accident doesn’t help matters.  Omas answers that the freighter pilot wouldn’t have collided with Sovv’s transport if he hadn’t been drunk on black membrosia.
 
He’s been demanding for months that the Colony stop sending that poison to insect worlds and all that’s happened is that he’s attended funeral after funeral since the death of Sovv and 200 members of his staff.
 
He thinks the Jedi are shielding the Colony.  After all, Corran Horn thinks this wasn’t an accident.  Hamner admits that’s true but Corran hasn’t found any evidence.   Omas is angry enough in his demands that the Jedi do something about the Killiks that he gets approval from several nearby attendees.
 
He demands that Master Skywalker contact him as soon as possible.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 


#5
Jedi Cool

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chapter 4:
 
Jacen Solo and his nine-year old cousin, Ben, are on Hapes.  Jacen asks Ben to sense what is through the door.  Ben knows there are two people there and that one of them is a child.
 
They are greeted by a DD1-1A Defender Droid.  Jacen wonders what the Queen Mother needs with a child protection droid.  The droid sends Jacen in first.
 
Inside the Queen’s private rooms where she is found leaning over a crib.  Jacen had known that Tenel Ka would have to take a husband eventually, but is still disappointed.  She welcomes him warmly and shows him a baby girl.  He can feel in the Force that this child is his.
 
She shows him how to hold her as he asks how this has happened.  It’s been a year since they’ve seen each other and this child is only a week old at most.  Tenel Ka admits she slowed her pregnancy down so that none of the nobles would realize he was the father.
 
Ben appears and hears this, having tripped the droid’s circuit breaker to get past her.  He explains that Jacen is his temporary master, working with him to explore his relationship with the Force.  Ben is excited and wants to tell his aunt and uncle right away about the baby.  Tenel Ka tells him he mustn’t tell anyone. 
 
They send him to reactivate the droid.  Tenel Ka admits there’s a feeling growing since the baby’s birth.  Though she’s kept herself secluded for months, most of the nobles have guessed why.  Anyone who believes the baby is not of their family is a suspect and that list is quite long as it includes everyone.
 
The droid bursts in, indicating a swarm infestation in the ceiling.  Ben assures Jacen it’s just Gorog.  Tenel Ka wants to know what a Gorog is and why it is in her ceiling.  Jacen explains that it is the Dark Nest.
 
Ben tries to add that they have a contract that he doesn’t quite understand.  Jacen does and will not allow it.  Ben realizes what the insects are trying to do and rushes to the rear of the room, telling them they have to get the child out.
 
Tenel Ka asks how he knows about the escape tunnel.  Jacen tells her Ben didn’t, but the Gorog did which is why they cannot take it.  Tenel Ka grabs Ben through the Force and holds on.  When the insects come through, the DD-11A droid begins to fire.
 
Ben tries to break free of Tenel Ka, whirls around and pushes her through the Force.  She slides into the wall and is knocked out.  He yells at the droid not to hurt his friends.  Jacen grabs Ben by the throat,.using the Force to put him to sleep.
 
He would have felt guilty about this at some point in the past, but all that matters now is protecting Tenel Ka and the baby.   He leaves DD-11A to handle the fighting, while he draws on the Force, pulling it through him by his anger and fear, spiked by the crying baby.
 
He creates an illusion of emptiness learned by the White Current.  Then he moves clothing through the air along with the sound of the baby to get the Killiks to follow.  It creates a distraction long enough that they can get their weapons when the insects return and DD can wipe out the bugs with a thermal grenade.
 
Tenel Ka and the baby are fine, but it is Ben she is worried about.  Jacen explains how time spent with a Gorog last year starting the Joining process for Ben so he empathizes with them.  She admits that it’s the marks Jacen caused on his throat that are a concern for her.
 
For now, though, they need to get out before her grandmother realizes the first attempt failed.  Jacen asks her if she’s sure Ta’a Chume is behind this. Tenel Ka knows she is because the only ones who know about the escape tunnel are the Queen Mother and the former Queen Mother.
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#6
Jedi Cool

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chapter 5:
 
Leia is irritated when Saba insists she follow the rules of meditating when she enters the academy grounds.  She thinks that Luke would want the froth they gathered to be delivered quickly.  Saba reminds her that she’s already mastered reasoning.  It’s obedience that she needs to work on.
 
She offers to hold the froth for her while she meditates.  Corran Horn appears and they explain the situation with the Fizz epidemic.  Luke and Han have stayed behind to prove their good intentions.  Corran is bothered, telling her that Chief of State Omas wants to speak to Luke right now.
 
Killik ships are landing all over planet on the Chiss frontier and the Ascendancy is furious. Leia thinks the Dark Nest could be behind this.  Corran believes the best thing to do is let Chief Omas know at once.  Leia would rather they handle this themselves before the GA can start blowing a lot of hot air around and making matters worse.  To that end, they have specimens for Cilghal to examine.
 
Saba offers to take the froth to Cilghal while Leia helps Corran with his report.  Corran is surprised, admitting that the Princess’s opinion is a special consideration.  Saba notes that Leia already knows how to give orders, she must learn how to accept them.
 
Corran asks Leia if she really chose Saba as a master.  Leia admitted she wanted a challenge.  He confesses that he backed down from the report because he didn’t want to argue with her.  Still, they both agree that Omas is likely to demand that the Killiks release Luke and things will get worse.  Corran does remind her that the Chief of State deserves to know what’s going on. 
 
Leia wonders if it wouldn’t be an opportunity for Omas to jump in and take control of the Order.  He doesn’t believe Omas would ever do that.  They walk along the path, Leia internally fuming that Saba would require her to continue training in the middle of a crisis.  Saba could have pulled rank on Corran who is the newest master by virtue of his work during the Yuuzhan Vong war, actions against pirates and the training of a young Jedi named Raltharan.
 
Instead, Leia decides to remind Corran that Mara deserves to know if Corran is about to do something that could put her husband’s life in danger.  He decides that he shouldn’t decide this on his own, but warns Leia not to gloat at masters. 
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • We seem to have some insight into the promoting of Jedi Knights to Jedi Masters anyway.  Jedi Knights have a combination of successful engagements plus the training of an apprentice to move them to Master.  We’ve never met this Raltharan in the books, but she was apparently introduced in the video game “Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy ” where she was a student approximately 14 years ABY.  According to Wookiepedia, Corran returned to the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV 13 years ABY and finished his training before taking an apprentice.  This is probably an example of yet another of Luke’s quick-study Jedi courses he was doing in those early years where students came and went as they chose, did whatever they wanted and became Knights in a year. 

 


#7
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chapter 6:
 
Luke, Han and the droids are following a group of smugglers that Luke is sure is headed for the Dark Nest.  The smugglers have hyperdrive coolant and reactor fuel that makes Luke a little nervous.
 
Sure enough, several Aqualish and a Neimoidian meet with Gorog and get star amber in exchange.  They sneak forward to watch through macrobinculars when Threepio gives them a warning on the comlink from behind his hiding place at a tree.  The landspeeder they took out here blows up.
 
Han pulls his blaster on the approaching Gorog and demands to know why they did that. Threepio translates that he was told to stay out of Gorog’s business.  Han tells them it’s too bad.  He and Luke eliminate them and Luke wishes they’d had the chance to question some of them.  R2 suggests asking the ones who were with the smugglers.
 
The group heads up the slope with their blaster, covered by the Aqualish.  The Neimoidian is fleeing.  Luke reminds Han they need at least one alive to find out what they are doing with the reactor fuel.
 
Artoo rolls off the edge of a stump and whistles that they’re doomed.
 
Han is becoming very concerned about the droid, despite the temporary repairs Luke has made.  Threepio explains that the froth is consuming the landspeeder.  Han uses the binoculars to watch the Gorog carefully, before noticing that the froth is only affecting things that attack Woteba.  It’s an environmental defense system.
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#8
Jedi Cool

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chapter 7:
 
Inside a steamy spa, Jacen finds Ta’a Chume undergoing a treatment.  It would be easier to kill her, knowing she’s eliminated people since before he was born, is currently under house arrests for poisoning Tenel Ka’s mother and even tried to have Jacen’s mother assassinated.  However, Tenel Ka has said that she will deal with her grandmother in her own way.
 
Jacen knows this means a long public trial at the end of which she will probably escape conviction.  He is not willing to let his daughter’s life hang on that. 
 
He tells the old woman not to call her bodyguards or pull the hold-out blaster she’s hiding as he promised her granddaughter he wouldn’t kill her.  Ta’a Chume is disappointed, hoping her granddaughter had finally grown a spine. 
 
She denies even knowing Tenel Ka has a child, much less having anything to do with the attempt on their lives.  He isn’t fooled and indicates his determination to protect his daughter.  The security team will be arriving soon and he wants answers. 
 
He presses his thumbs into her skull and sends a charge of Force energy into it.  She tells him he’s a Jedi and he can’t do this.  He points out how the Jedi learned some new tricks during the war.
 
He forces his mind into hers where she reveals that she couldn’t allow Hapes to become a Jedi kingdom.  He’s already convinced her granddaughter to become involved in a situation that is not their concern.  The Gorog came to her after Tenel Ka’s interference at Qoribu.
 
They thought she wanted Tenel Ka dead, but she didn’t until she was in a position to claim the throne.  When she found out about the baby, she decided that killing the child would be better.  The Gorog were going to kill one or the other, so she struck a deal that would have allowed them to take the baby instead in exchange for navicomputer technology to travel through hyperspace.
 
She tells him that she knew they would figure out her involvement and have taken precautions.  If she dies or is imprisoned, Tenel Ka will be a target.  If he wants his daughter to grow up with a mother, he will have to spare her life.
 
Jacen’s anger turns cold and calculating.  He tells her there is another way.  As the security forces approach the spa, he pours hot Force energy into her head until she shrieks.  The act pushes him out of time until he sees the whole galaxy burning.  He stumbles away, feeling horrified.  He realizes the galaxy is about to erupt into war with the Killiks at the heart.
 
He jumps into the mud and builds an illusion around himself as security bursts in.  They examine her and determine she’s alive, but has had some kind of hemorrhage.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • This has been building since the whole philosophy of no light/dark side began.  Jedi are performing terrible deeds with the best of intent.  It was only a matter of time before one of them was going to go too far.  Jacen is now doing everything he can to protect his child and romantic interest without regard to the cost.  How ironic that the information Luke Skywalker is getting from Artoo piecemeal is also revealing that his father, Anakin Skywalker, made similar choices for the same reasons.

 
 


#9
Jedi Cool

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chapter 8:
 
Kyp wonders if the Dark Nest is even on Woteba and asks what they know about the other planets.  Leia admits they only knew they were deserted at the time they turned them over to the Killiks.  The Colony was not interested in a detailed survey, beyond which worlds were habitable.
 
Corran thinks they didn’t want the Jedi to know too much.  He doesn’t think the Killiks ever intended to keep the peace with the Chiss.  Jaina reminds him that it’s not the Killiks in general, just the Gorog.
 
She and Zekk are sharing a hologram, their heads touching, their eyes blinking.  They insist that it’s the Dark Nest that’s behind this.  Hamner is convinced that the original summons to prevent a war was made under false pretenses.  Until Luke and Han are safe, they must look at the evidence. Despite being given 15 worlds, the Colony is harboring pirates and tampering the minds of other insect species with black ambrosia.
 
Raynar lured Luke into a trap and is holding him so they can provide the Chiss again.  Jaina and Zekk still insist it’s the Dark Nest.  Hamner agrees, but points to the fact that they obviously still have an emotional attachment to the Killiks that makes it unwise to continue this discussion with them.
 
Leia argues that Jaina and Zekk are most familiar with the situation.  She resents that they are being dismissed despite all of their contributions to keeping the peace in this area.  He cuts off everyone who is not in the academy’s Operations Planning Center.  Hamner knows this upsets her, but there are things going on that cannot be disclosed to anyone who has had prolonged exposure to the Killiks. 
 
The Fifth Fleet has been sent to Utegetu, probably to appease the Chiss.  Chief Omas has sworn him to secrecy.  Omas didn’t like how the situation was handled last time and it certainly doesn’t look good now.  They do not know yet about Han and Luke.
 
They bring the others back in and Jaina and Zekk confirm that they will not be able to find Gorog.  The nest will be watching Han and Luke so they’ll just have to watch, too.  Leia and Mara don’t think they will have time for that and they don’t want to risk letting Lomi Plo escape again.
 
Jaina and Zekk suggest that they may be able to feel where the nest since they were in it on Kr.  Leia isn’t excited about this.  Mara puts the stopper on any idea that they are going near the nest again.  Corran and Kyp, not part of Kenth’s revelation about the military task force, don’t understand the hurry here.
 
Kyp thinks they’re worried about their husbands and assures them it’s only natural, but Luke and Han can take care of themselves.  Kenth jumps in and explains that speed is of the essence because the situation is unpredictable enough to blow up in their faces and the Jedi have already had a hard time with the Senate.
 
They need to prove that the Jedi can be counted on.
 
Kyp suggests they take out Raynar and the Unu.  It will be easier than bringing Raynar back alive, especially if he’s grown as powerful as everyone thinks.  Zekk objects that it would destroy the Colony.  Mara points out that the Killiks would be returned to their natural state. 
 
Zekk argues that it isn’t right to destroy their civilization just because it didn’t exist until recently.  Kenth counters that the civilization in question isn’t honoring its agreement to live in peace with its neighbors.  Corran normally sides with Kenth, but agrees with Zekk that assassination is not something Jedi do.
 
Zekk and Jaina maintain they can go back as they suggested, accusing Leia of being afraid of losing another child.  Mara wants details of this plan first, only considering sending them back if it’s the best way.
 
Jaina suggests they try to persuade UnuThul that Gorog is controlling the Colony or, at least, watch him until the Dark Nest reveals itself.  Saba, Kyp and Kenth all jump on this, pointing out that they clearly just want to return to the Colony.
 
Cilghal contacts them and explains that she’s made some progress on the froth.  The sample brought back is a terraforming system designed to create and maintain an optimal environmental balance for the creators.  The Killik don’t have the ability to design such a system.
 
The tiny machines monitor soil, air and water for notable imbalances.  When one is detected, they assemble to become machines that disassemble the contaminants and use the individual molecules to build more machines.  That’s what is happening when the froth appears.   The contaminants are what wasn’t on the planet when Han and Leia first found it. 
 
This means, of course, that the Colony isn’t lying to them, but it doesn’t mean the Dark Nest isn’t using it to cause problems.  Disabling the nanotech will be difficult as the supernova that created the Utegetu Nebula failed to destroy it.
 
The nanotech remained to restore Woteba and the other worlds.  They can try to persuade Raynar of this, but the Dark Nest may convince him they are lying.  Zekk confirms that Unu has already put the Colony’s plans in motion and it will be easier for him to believe the Dark Nest.
 
Realizing all they can do now is try to retrieve Han and Luke and take out the Dark Nest for good this time, Corran asks about their backup plan.  Assassinating Raynar is no good.  During the Yuuzhan Vong war, the Jedi learned to do whatever was necessary to get the job done.  Over the past year, Luke has grown uncomfortable with that and has been quietly encouraging the Jedi to consider where intentions and actions intermix.
 
Kyp points out that they are making this harder than it has to be.  Raynar is a Jedi and that makes him their problem.  How they do it matters less than if they still can.  Even Zekk and Jaina agree that he has to be stopped.
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  • At one point, Leia is about to object to Mara allowing Zekk and Jaina to go back if they have a good plan.  Saba hisses and Leia remembers that her earlier objection to them going back to the nest was out of place and now Mara has to work harder to fix the problem.  I’m not sure what that refers to.  Leia never forbade the two from going back to the nest in that conversation.  In fact, it was Mara who refused to let them go anywhere near the nest.  If Mara has to work harder now to backpedal on that directive, that’s her fault.

 


#10
Jedi Cool

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chapter 9:
 
A member of the Saras nest escorts Han and Luke around the construction site, wondering why they are worrying about contaminents.  The nest disposes of toxins by pumping them into the bog.
 
They are led to the replica factory to meet Raynar who thanks them for uncovering the smugglers taking star amber.  He gives each of them a spinglass replica of their ships, Luke’s being the X-Wing he flew when he destroyed the first Death Star.
 
The Millennium Falcon replica is also notated as a first edition.  When he checks the label, he sees it’s Second Mistake Enterprises.  He asks Raynar if the business partners are Squibs named Sligh, Grees and Emala.  Raynar asks how he knew.  Luke remembers that Han and Leia had gotten involved with a trio of Squibs when they were trying to retrieve Killik Twilight during the war.
 
Luke explains that the Dark Nest has been taking the star ambers.  It appears the Neimoidian had a deal with Gorog to trade reactor fuel and hyperdrive coolant for them.
 
Raynar finds this amusing as the nest does not have a reactor.  They remind him that he cannot know what the Gorog do and do not have.  The Fizz attacked the coolant and fuel when it ate the landspeeder. 
 
This leads the Saras to believe that there never was any fuel.  Luke has Artoo project the image of the deal-making going down from the transfer by the Aqualish and Neimoidians to the Fizz engulfing the materials.  It seems to only attack things that harm Woteba.
 
Raynar allows that this fits which what they’ve seen, too.  Then he changes his tune and admits that he forgets how clever Luke is.  Luke realizes there is something coming across the Force and knows that the Dark Nest is reaching out to Raynar, distorting the facts. 
 
Luke uses the Force to push out a path and prepares to leap when Alema Rar jumps out.  She suggests that the Jedi brought the fuel rods to Woteba and the Gorog were only trying to intercept them.  She implies the Jedi know more about the Fizz than they say they do.  The reactor fuel must trigger the Fizz which is why they sent it to all worlds.  Raynar confirms that all the worlds given to them are poisoned.
 
Luke assures him that the Galactic Alliance only wants the Colony to be a good neighbor.  The Dark Nest has been deceiving him.  Alema suggests that the GA may not have told him how afraid they are.  She wonders if he has considered why Mara lied to him about Daxar Ies.
 
Luke says he hasn’t and that he doubts she did lie.  Alema doesn’t think there’s any harm in considering it.  To be kind, she will give him the next access code.  Luke tells her he doesn’t want it.  She thinks he’s lying now and rattles it off to See-Threepio to remember for later.
 
Luke admits he does want the code.  She remembers how brave he is and hopes that Daxar Ies was not Mara’s only victim, implying she might have had something to do with his mother’s death.
 
She kisses Raynar and tells him to keep an eye on these two.  When she leaves, Raynar repeats her statements word for word.  The Killiks have no memory of her ever being hear.  According to Raynar, Alema Rar died in the Dark Nest on Kr.
 
He demands their weaponsand insists they stay until Princess Leia returns with a way to stop the Fizz.
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  • The three Squibs appeared in Tatooine Ghost.

  • Obviously, Alema is just trying to rattle Luke who is surely smart enough to realize that Mara was just a tiny girl when his mother was around.  If he is able to find Padme Amidala in Old Republic records, then they surely notated when she died, even if there is little information beyond that.

 


#11
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chapter 10:
 
The Milennium Falcon is pulled out of hyperspace and Saba insists it because of the gravity generators on the Mon Mothma.  After a debate over how she knows this, Leia knows that the Defense Force will not interfere in a Jedi mission and, besides, the Mon Mothma is commanded by her old friend, Gavin Darklighter.
 
Saba reminds her not to place her trust in friendships as Commander Darklighter will have orders.  The comm. officer orders them to reverse course or be impounded.  Leia gets upset before Saba tells the ship they will consider it.  She thinks they should leave.  Leia argues that they cannot leave Han and Luke stranded on Woteba.
 
When she senses Mara’s impatience, Leia explains they aren’t going to attack the Mothma, just call its bluff.  She gets on the comm. again and demands to speak with Commodore Darklighter.
 
She has Cakhmaim and Meelwah rig the tractors beams to reverse polarity as Han did the year before when Darklighter comes on, barking that Chief Omas is serious about the blockade.
 
Leia tells him that Omas didn’t tell the Jedi about this.  She has Saba tell her when the tractor beams on the Mon Mothma start up.  Leia pilots the ship in a way that makes it almost impossible for a lock. 
 
Darklighter explains that, since Omas hasn’t been able to reach Master Skywalker, he assumed that the Jedi had gone over to the Killiks’ side.  Leia thinks not being able to talk to Luke is a silly reason to think the Jedi are betraying the GA. 
 
He tells her that fighting them now is only proving he’s right.  She needs to power down now or they will open fire.  They argue back and forth about who is bluffing whom.  He asks if Luke and Han are still on Woteba, she asks to go to a private channel, he refuses and she closes the channel completely.
 
Leia tells Saba that Admiral Nek Buwa’tu must be aboard, but it doesn’t matter, because they won’t fire on the Falcon.  She has the Noghri activate the repulsor beam, Mara reaches out and urges them to run for it.  Then the first turbolaser strike hits the ship.
 
Saba tells Leia that, next time, she will listen to her master.
 
Leia pilots the ship around the targeting mechanisms of the Star Destroyer.  She feels something is wrong and thinks someone is watching them.  Saba agrees.  Suddenly, the ship decelerates.  Cakhmaim tells her there’s a Star Destroyer out there.  A new version of a Victory-class Star Destroyer sits with one of the asteroid-tug tractor beams that Lando Calrissian has been selling to the Defense Force.
 
Saba decides that Admiral Bwua’tu is as good as they say.
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#12
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chapter 11:
 
Han is bored, turning the replica Millennium Falcon over and over, not able to imagine how the Squibs thought they would be able to sell these things in  badeconomy.
 
Luke keeps wandering around, pressing on the walls, looking for stress points.  The Killiks respond on the outside of the chambers by reinforcing the walls.  It doesn’t matter as Luke can get them out at any time, but it’s pointless until they know where the Dark Nest is.
 
Luke knows that Han is worried about Leia just as Han knows Luke is thinking about Mara.  That bothers Han because he shouldn’t know this and, after confirming that Luke isn’t using  a Jedi mind trick on him, they realize that the Killiks are trying to make them into Joiners.
 
It’s time to get out of here, Dark Nest or not.  Han isn’t prepared for Raynar’s nest to overhear escape plans as they obviously know what’s going on in here.  He bangs on the door and tells one of the Saras that he wants to speak with the Squibs about a lucrative deal, offering his and Luke’s signatures on a large lot of the replica ships which should boost value.
 
Luke is disgusted at this deal-marking and offended when Han suggests he go enter one of Alema’s code sequences if he needs something else to do.  Eventually, Luke figures out that Han is trying to keep the Nest from figuring out there’s a plan afoot.  Han is going to speak to the Squibs, but not about ship replica business.
 
Luke has See-Threepio pick the sequence Threepio recorded, over Artoo’s severe protests.  It seems that this particular holographic recording was not done by Artoo, but stolen by him.  It is of the Room of a Thousand Fountains in the Old Jedi Temple on Coruscant.  There was a Jedi Revolt going on, Artoo’s owner had stopped speaking to him and he needed to update his friend-or-foe data. 
 
The sequences show a large group of students, the youngest ones running, the others turning to fight their pursuers.  After their teacher is cut down, soldiers Han recognizes as Clone Troopers move in to kill the children with the help of Anakin Skywalker.
 
Luke has to meditate after this.  Threepio explains that Alema had given them a universal key that is designed to safeguard against lockouts and shutdowns that are irreversible.  The keys force the units to donvert the most secure files to an open access file.  In Artoo’s case, the most secure file was one which implicated him in data theft.
 
Unfortunately, it cannot open all of Artoo’s files without the code progression.
 
The Killiks don’t bring the Squibs, but Jae Juun and Tarfang who traded the equity on the expensive ship Han had arranged through Lando for a smaller paid-for ship.  It turns out they hold the exclusive shipping rights to the ship replica business.  In fact, they just delivered a promotional shipment to the Fifth Fleet.
 
Han smashes his replica ship to show them what they’re really doing.  The shattered spineglass reveals dozens of small black-blue Gorog Killiks inside.  It is very likely that the entire shipment delivered to the Galactic Alliance fleet contains these assassins.
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  • The sequence Luke and Han watch was the attack on the Jedi Temple as described in the novelization of Revenge of the Sith.  Cin Dralliq was the teacher cut down in battle. 

  • The chapter correctly mentions that Han was a young boy during the Clone Wars working for Garris Shrike and that he knew Clone Trooper armor by sight.  Of course, the Han Solo trilogy mentioned nothing about the Clone Wars going on during this time, implying that Han was orphaned in the post-Clone Wars era when Shrike found him.

  • A couple of things here:  Artoo refers to the Jedi Revolt, implying that that’s what he thinks about the attack on the Temple that night.  The fact that he was updating friend-or-foe indicates that he was not aware that this was a Sith ruse.  His owner, Anakin Skywalker, had stopped speaking to him so he didn’t know what was going on.  Did Artoo ever find out that there was no revolt?

 
 


#13
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chapter 12:
 
Leia and Saba wait while the boarding party fails to use conventional means to push themselves aboard the Falcon.  Finally proving their point, they open the hatch and get stunned.
 
When Leia wakes up, she finds herself aboard the Admiral Ackbar, Commodore Gavin Darklighter over her.  He is accompanied by a Bothan officer named Wurf’al who has a grudge against the Jedi for stopping the Avengeance from finding Zonama Sekot.  The on-going Bothan ar’krai has been troublesome even though the war against the Yuuzhan Vong has ended.
 
The officer is also a relative of Admiral Bwua’tu whose busts of spineglass are all over the place.  They are escorted to the admiral, both Leia and Saba sensing something wrong aboard the ship.  Bwua’tu wants their word that they will not attempt to escape.  It’s easier than trying to keep the two Jedi imprisoned.  Neither Leia nor Saba will agree to this until Bwua’tu threatens to destroy the Falcon’s drive nacelles.  Leia believes this is all about the ar’krai and mentions Admiral Pellaeon won’t be happy about this, Pellaeon having temporarily assumed the Supreme Commander position after Sovv’s death.
 
Bwua’tu also wants them to call the Jedi who were escorting them back.  The StealthXs don’t have enough fuel to get to Woteba and he had the fuel packs removed from the Falcon just in case there are any plans to get those to the Jedi pilots.
 
Leia knows that the Mara and the others can go into a Force hibernation if need be, but Luke and Han may not have that long.  She explains that both she and Saba sense some danger aboard this vessel, but cannot be specific.
 
Bwua’tu won’t act on vague threats and, when Darklighter urges him to reconsider, the admiral accuses him of being too friendly with the Princess.  He sends Gavin back to his ship and puts the two Jedi back in detention.
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#14
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chapter 13:
 
Chief Omas has had a difficult six years rebuilding Coruscant and keeping the Galactic Alliance together.  He’d been able to count on the Jedi for a long time, but this Killik problem has made them yet another troublesome concern for him.
 
In the Jedi Temple, he greets the present members of the Masters Council along with two Jedi he’s invited, the more government-allied Kyle Katarn and Corran Horn.  He explains that the Jedi have been keeping things from him.  One, that Master Skywalker and Han Solo are out of communication.  Two, that Killik assassins attempted to kill Queen Mother Tenel Ka.
 
The Chiss assume that the Jedi are able to handle the Killik situation and have demanded that Omas have them do something.  They have 10 days to stop migration into the frontier and 100 days to persuade the Killiks to withdraw colonists already there. 
 
The Jedi, especially Kyp, believe that Omas is trying to take control of the Jedi Order.  He assures them he is not, but he is stuck in the middle of this battle.  The Chiss have made this demand of him.  If he feels the Jedi cannot handle this, he will tell them they are on their own.  He’d also like someone to take temporary control of the Jedi Order until Master Skywalker returns.
 
Princess Leia’s rescue mission has been intercepted.  Her ship has been impounded and she and Master Sabatyne are Admiral Bwua’tu’s guests for now.  They protest he is putting Luke and Han in danger.  Omas assures them that this was not his intent, but the natural consequence of secrets being kept from him.
 
The Jedi claim that their interests go past the Galactic Alliance.  His do not.  Kyp will not broker any of this and storms out.  Hamner tries to go after him, but Omas reminds him that Durron is correct in that the Chief of State is forcing their hand now.  Cilghal joins Kyp in protest, leaving Katarn, Horn, Hamner and Lobi left.  Now that they are divided, all Omas has to do is to have them elect a leader who is not capable of uniting them on the Killik situation and will have no choice but to yield to Skywalker when he eventually returns.  To that end, he thinks Master Horn would be the perfect choice.
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  • It’s been 6 years since the end of the Yuuzhan Vong war.  Omas was elected Chief of State about a year before it ended.  We’ve brought this up before, but have we yet figured out how long a Chief of State term is?

 


#15
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chapter 14:
 
The StealthXs aren’t getting clearance to leave.  Kyp demands the non-Jedi control agent open the barrier.  Jaina and Zekk sense Jacen coming and tell Kyp to hold off until then.  Kyp isn’t comfortable with this.  Jacen seems to be reaching out to control the bond with Jaina and Zekk, even as he closes himself off from them.  Jaina and Zekk think he’s just trying to protect them from something inside him.  After his experience with the Yuuzhan Vong, this is natural.
 
Unfortunately, before Jacen can arrive, Kenth Hamner and Corran Horn appear with several other Jedi, demanding that the rescue mission participants shut down their engines.  When they refuse, Corran uses his lightsaber to cut Kyp’s hydraulic line.
 
This causes an altercation wheras Kyp uses the Force to unfairly push Corran across the hangar, knowing the other Jedi cannot retaliate the same way.  Kenth Hamner does the honors for him.
 
Jaina tells the others to get out of the cockpits for now.  The argument is a full-scale one now, with Kyp refusing to accept the decision of the Advisory Council to put Corran in charge when it wasn’t even a full council.  The fact that he and Cilghal weren’t there to vote was due to the fact that this meeting was just a ruse by Omas to put someone he can control in charge.  Hamner thinks it was rather an attempt to divide the order. 
 
Corran is the first to admit that he is not the best person to lead.  Hamner goes on to say that this division is going to distract them while the GA makes the Chiss happy and deal with the Killiks.
 
Jacen arrives in the midst of this, assuring Ben that he has nothing to worry about.  Ben thinks Jacen noever worries about anything.  His cousin knows how wrong that is as he’s very worried about the two on Hapes.  He tells Ben that he doesn’t worry about things he can’t control and he fixes things he can control.
 
Jaina and Zekk approach the two as they come down the ramp.  After being assured that his parents are not in danger at all, Ben admits his father wouldn’t like the Jedi arguing about all of this. 
 
Jaina asks about the camping trip to the forest moon of Endor.  Ben goes on about the experiences as Jacen uses the Force to push the memories of his trip into the forefront of his mind, so he will not remember the inconvenient knowledge he has about Tenel Ka and her baby.
 
Jaina and Zekk, blinking in unison, can tell what he’s doing. When Ben goes off with Nanna, they confront Jacen about mind-rubbing.  Jace admits that Ben saw something upsetting while they were away and he used a trick from the Adepts to block the memory. 
 
Jaina and Zekk bring him up to speed on the problem with the Killiks moving near the Chiss border again, upsetting the Ascendancy and causing diplomatic ties with the GA to become strained.  Chief Omas has put Corran Horn in charge in an obvious attempt to control the Order until Luke comes back.
 
Jacen sees his vision again of the galaxy burning in the midst of a war between the Killiks and the Chiss.  He knows the Force wants him to protect its child and to do to the Killiks what he had done to Ta’a Chume.
 
The vision gets clearer every minute.  Summoning Jedi from the large argument individually, he explains to the gathering around him that there’s something more important than who leads the Order going on.  Jacen explains his vision about the war.  The Dark Nest is clearly manipulating the Colony again and destabilizing the Galactic Alliance so that it won’t be able to interfere in a war with the Chiss.
 
They will have to stop it.  His vision shows him the war begins when the Chiss launch a surprise attack on the Killik colonies.  Tesar points out that Kyp has told them the Chiss are waiting for the Jedi to force the Killik to withdraw.  Jacen points out that, according to them, Kyp learned this from Chief Omas who could have lied or been misled by the Chiss.
 
Jacen suggests that Kyp’s squadron will go after the Dark Nest after rescuing his father and uncle.  Besides, that Nest will probably come to the Jedi soon.  He begins directing his new team to their StealthXs while working on a way to open the barrier to let them leave.
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  • Jacen may have learned a lot about the Force in the last five years but he seems to have not learned the lesson he should have learned about visions during the New Jedi Order series.  He had misunderstood at least two visions during that time.  Why does he think he understands this one so clearly?

 


#16
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chapter 15:
 
While Luke and Han play a game of dejarik to pass the time, Luke is distracted by what the Dark Nest could want with trying to drive a wedge between himself and Mara.  It’s been hours since Juun and Tarfang were supposed to return and nothing has happened.
 
There are Saras guards inside the room now ever since Luke sent his Gorog-infested XWing replica back to Raynar.  When the time is right, however, he and Han use the game to get close enough to the guards to make their escape attempt.  The weak spots in the wall that Luke had worked on earlier are pressured into making a hole in the wall.
 
Luke and Han meet up with Juun and Tarfang in their new ship.  During the battle, C-3PO and R2-D2 take minor damage.  Juun explains that they were late because the Saras are evacuating their nest and the Squibs wanted them to pick up a load from the factory.
 
He tells them that the GA Fifth Fleet is blockading the Utegetu Nebula.  Luke refuses to let Han set a course there because the Dark Nest has been manipulating them all this whole time.  He thinks they need to find the Nest and figure out what they want with all that reactor fuel and hyperdrive coolant.
 
Tarfang suggests they take the ship to the Tusken’s Eye which is where they’ve been taking the Tibanna gas they’ve been running for the Squibs.
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 


#17
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chapter 16:
 
At Supply Depot Thrago, a Chiss supply moon, Jacen and his team will be destroying the fuel tanks.  He doesn’t think he can stop the war, but he can prevent it from becoming the far-reaching eternal war from his vision.  The Chiss need to be roused to take action before the Dark Nest is ready.
 
The Chiss will wipe out the whole species which is exactly what they need to do.  As long as there is a Colony, there will be a Dark Nest.  His daughter will be in danger while the Killik race exists.  He can’t tell the others this, though.
 
He knows the Colony was once harmless, but the interference of Raynar, Welk and Lomi Plo has changed all this.  The knowledge of good and evil has created a hidden aspect of the Colony’s collective mind that will always be characterized by hatred and conquest. 
 
Of course, it had been hard to convince them to launch a preemptive strike against the Chiss.  The Ascendancy has laws against attacking first, so Jaina and Zekk didn’t really believe Jacen’s vision about a surprise attack.  Tahiri had pointed out, though, how the Colony is in violation of the truce of Qoribu, which could be a technicality the Chiss might use to strike.   
 
Everthing they’ve seen thus far shows that the Chiss are mobilizing, but they would do this anyway even if they were not planning an attack.   Jacen knows that Jaina and Zekk are still not certain so he uses his twin bond to fill his connection with Jaina with his own certainty.
 
They wait in their fighters as Jacen uses the Froce to pull a cathode out of a Chiss vessel’s mounting.  This brings several shuttles to inspect the damage so that the team can now move toward the largely empty repair docks.  There are frigates waiting there, but there are no lifeforms aboard them.  In fact, the temperatures are below freezing.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but he knows this is casting doubt on his vision again. 
 
Knowing they are becoming more wary now, he uses the Force to alert a Chiss sentry just as the team decides to pull out.  The sentry targets Jacen and begins to fire.  This forces the team to proceed as planned. As they hit their targets quickly and effectively, Jaina sends her anger into the twin bond, telling him she will never fly with him again.
 
He knew this would happen, though.
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  • So Jacen is now manipulating his vision so that it indicates things that it really didn’t.  The parallels between Anakin Skywalker and Jacen are interesting.  Both have visions they are convinced are true.  Both are desperate to save loved ones.  Both are making horrible, morally-repulsive choices to ensure they get their way.  Both have powers and abilities other Jedi do not have.

 
 


#18
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chapter17:
 
At Tusken’s Eye, Luke asks where all the replicas they’d picked up are.  Juun explains that he dumped them in the marsh and wants Luke to pay the penalty for nondelivery.  Luke realizes the cold knot he’s feeling is not the hidden Gorog assassins in the product then.
 
He thinks that Lomi Plo is pushing back at him.  Han fiddles with the shields when they spot a few ships nearby.  Knowing they are pirates and that this ship cannot defend itself well, Luke uses the Force to create an illusion of another ship just as he had done at Qoribu.
 
Moving past the pirates without being noticed, they approach a planet that looks like it has several moons.  It turns out these are nest ships.  Luke cannot help but feel betrayed.  He had given Raynar the benefit of the doubt, assuming the Unu was just upset over the Fizz and let the Dark Nest gain influence over him.  Now, it appears that this has been going on for quite some time, meaning the Dark Nest has been doing this for a year now or Raynar and the Colony had been part of the plan from the beginning.
 
Luke knows they don’t have time to let the Blockade take care of this.  He plans to take the escape pod to the planet, but Han refuses to let him leave alone.  They order Juun to go to the blockade and report what’s going on to the highest officer they can speak with.
 
Suddenly, a pirate ship moves too closely to the Force-cloaked vessel they are on and causes damage.  Threepio alerts them to the diminishing cabin pressure.   With a Gorog nest ship headed toward them, they don’t have time to seal the breach.
 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 


#19
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chapter 18:
 
Leia is deep in an hours-long meditation, sending a heated problem between Jaina and Jacen.  Jacen sends acceptance and Jaina grudgingly allows to let her bitterness pass for Leia’s sake. 
 
She can feel Luke and Han in some danger.  The directive is clear.  She jumps up and uses the Force to damage her cell door.  When an EverAlert security droid arrives, Leia flips its circuit breaker with the Force and disarms a couple of guards.  She demands to be taken to Admiral Bwua’tu.  Saba refuses to come as she is hunting for food.
 
Luke, Han, Juun, Tarfang and the droids are in the escape pod, moving away from the wreckage of Juun’s ship, toward the planet.  Luke has Han stun him so the pain will cut off Lomi Plo’s Force grudge match attempts.  Luke then dampens everyone’s presence so the Gorog will think they’ve died.
 
As the pod lands on the planet inside a crater, they develop a plan to search for the hyperdrives before this world jumps to hyperspace.
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#20
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chapter 20:
 
Near the crater, it’s difficult for the small group to investigate with a Star Destroyer hitting it.  Luke can sense Lomi Plo here and knows he needs to finish her off.  Han doesn’t think he’s in any condition to do so and that the Dark Jedi is controlling Luke somehow.
 
Luke wants to go after her while Han and the others destroy the Nest by using Mara’s StealthX which is nearby.  He ignites his lightsaber and fights Gorog attackers as the StealthX sweeps past, targeting the Killiks.
 
Juun points to something on the other side of Luke and takes off.  He stops and grabs something Han cannot see.  Luke keeps swinging his lightsaber at empty air.  Han opens fire in the general area, not doing much harm.
 
Mara’s fire cuts open holes in the nest ship.  Luke reports to Han he can still feel Lomi.  Han thinks they need to find Juun.  He believes the Sullustan is able to see Lomi somehow.  This bothers both of them as Luke can’t see her at all. 
 
They can’t find Tarfang anywhere.  Luke searches around before speculating that Lomi has him.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 


#21
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chapter 21:
 
Leia and the security team battle Killiks as they move down the hallways of the
Ackbar.  She Force-shoves the nearest soldier into the one behind it.  Bwua’tu directs her to an access terminal.
 
They are attacked by Gorogs led by Alema Rar.  The Twil’ek sends Force lightning at Leia who battles it with her lightsaber.  She is shoved against a wall after severing one of Alema’s lekku.  When she comes to, she feigns going under again to get Alema close enough to her to slash at her abdomen. 
 
The hatch opens and Saba and the Noghri come through.  Leia prepares to toss her lightsaber at a fleeing Alema, but she gets away.
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#22
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chapter 22:
 
Luke senses Tarfang ahead, moving away.  Han and Juun are above waiting.  Luke uses the Force to lower them through a hole in the nest ship.  Mara slowly lowers her ship down and floats above. 
 
Juun admits he saw something out there, but didn’t know it was Lomi until Luke used his lightsaber.  Mara thinks they should get the hyperdrive first, but Luke tells her he dragged Tarfang into this.
 
She warns him she has one shadow bomb left and they only have one chance to hit the thermal vent on this thing.  Luke suggests calling Kyp and the others back for help.  She tells him that Bwau’tu has them targeting the drives of the other nest ships.
 
She has been listening in on comm. traffic between the two GA ships out here.  Apparently the Chiss have been holding the GA responsible for the Killik frontier-encroaching.  This blockade is Omas’s attempt to appease them.  When Leia and Saba tried to get past it, they were held on board the Ackbar.  Omas put Corran in charge of the Jedi until Luke got back.  Kyp and his team objected and commandeered a squadron of StealthXs to free Luke and Han.
 
Leia has urged them to work with Bwau’tu for now.  Luke feels badly, knowing he had created a Jedi Order that is drifting.  His intentions had been good, but this model of self-directing Jedi following their own consciences has resulted in the lack of an authority figure to work with the GA. 
 
This has allowed Omas to split the masters. 
 
He still has to go after Tarfang, though.  She hands Han her lightsaber, thinking it will work better than a blaster.  After they get Tarfang, they are to jump on her wing and she’ll drop her shadow bomb. 
 
She uses her laser cannons to fire at the Gorog in the tunnels.  Using lightsabers, Luke and, to some extent, Han, handle the rest.  When Mara’s floodlamps begin to dim, Luke knows Lomi is draining the energy.  Juun spots her behind the ship and fires his blaster at the canopy.  Something deflects the energy. 
 
Luke deflects the beams back, grabs Juun and moves toward the ship.  He needs Juun to start firing whenever he sees her, explaining that he can’t see her at all.  Then  Juun explains she’s gone.  Han brings Tarfang back, thinking they need to get out of here.  If Lomi was dimming the lights, it’s because she doesn’t want them seeing any reinforcements.
 
Luke realizes that Juun can’t see Lomi anymore because his doubt took over once he learned Luke couldn’t see her.  This is one of Alema’s weapons, and one she’s tried to use to divide Luke and Mara. 
 
He looks in the direction of the StealthX and sees nothing.  Then one of the floodlamps bursts.  The drive begins to spark and the ship wobbles.  There is a line of Gorog running after them, firing on the ship.  Mara fires back with her cannons. Luke pushes Juun toward the ship, telling Han to run for the breach.
 
Han moves onto the lower wing instead, insisting he will provide cover fire.  Lomi, still unseen, tries to push Luke off the canopy as Mara flies the ship back.  Han uses Mara’s lightsaber to try to push her off, but only loses the saber. 
 
Luke jumps in for the deathstrike but has to stick himself to the fuselage instead when the ship rises up into space.  Their vac-suits still intact, they cling to wings, Tarfang to the laser cannon, Juun being pulled into the vaccum.  Luke catches him and pulls him back with the Force.  His lightsaber starts to go out again.  Luke steps into a kick that knocks Lomi right in the chest.
 
He brings his arms around her, pinning her arms against her.  Then something smashes into his stomach.  Mara wheels the ship around, looking for the thermal vent.  The droids are still by the escape pod where Han had left them. 
 
Invisible elbows keep punching Luke in the stomach.  He tries to wrest her lightsaber from her but his suit runs out of air.  She releases her saber and slams him with a shove so she will be free to divert the shadow bomb.
 
The explosion disables the Dark Nest’s hyperdrive, but Luke can’t really leap for joy right now.  Mara orders him to hold on a bit longer.  Leia, Kyp and the others are touching him through the battlemeld.  He tries to enter a Force hibernation when a weight settles on his stomach and fingers try to break the seal on his helmet.  Luke lashes out as his faceplate is unhooked.  He bangs his helmet on the canopy, Han fires at Lomi and she turns to deflect the attack.
 
Mara flips the ship upside down close to the nest ship and Lomi either falls or is scraped off.  Luke is sure he saw a bulbous, noseless face briefly before it disappears.  Luke’s vision is darkening as the Falcon streaks by. 
 
The strength of his friends and family keep him alert.
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#23
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

    They call me MRS. Six!

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Epilogue:
 
The Mon Mothma returns with reinforcements, but not nearly enough to hold off the Killiks. Gavin Darklighter tells Han that Bwua’tu is fair enough that he will give Juun and Tarfang some consideration, but, in the search for scapegoats, they are very convenient.
 
Luke is fine and Leia is recovering from her injuries during the fight with Alema.  The situation militarily is not ideal.  Four nest ships got away, along with the commandeered Ackbar.  The Dark Nest ship is still here along with ten others.  The Chiss are accusing a group of Jedi of launching an attack on s Supply Depot.
 
A holo taken shows a couple of StealthXs pretty clearly and Jagged Fel is sure he recognized Jaina’s flying style.  The fact that no one died clearly indicates that the Jedi were probably involved.  The Ascendancy has decided that the Qoribu Truce has been violated and are now going to handle things themselves. 
 
Admiral Bwua’tu thinks that the Jedi team was trying to provoke a Chiss response.  He has Darklighter launch all fighter squadrons to deploy in attack formations.  He also asks if Luke agrees with Han’s assessment of the contribution Captain Juun and Tarfang made during their escape.  He decides that they can serve as intelligence affiliates and given a scout ship.
 
Right now, the Killiks are unsure of themselves and of what the GA can do.  He plans to use that doubt to make them think they’ve lost this battle.  He expects them to retreat.  Bwua’tu goes back to Jaina and asks what Han thinks she would do if she thought the Chiss were going to attack.
 
It’s possible she launched this preemptive strike against the depot to force the chiss to attack before they were ready.  This may give the Colony a chance to survive.  Leia questions this terminology as the Chiss only indicated they wanted to push the Killiks away from their border.
 
Bwua’tu points out they’d previously wanted the Jedi to handle the problem.  The trouble with Chiss messages are that one never knows which one contains the truth.  This war is already starting.  He thinks the Chiss believe they will side with the Killiks.  Now that the Colony has seized the Ackbar, there will be plenty of evidence for that. 
 
Leia knows her children are in the middle of it.  Bwua’tu is sorry for that, then turns to Darklighter and has all batteries open fire.
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End of Book 2
 
 




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