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Legacy of the Force #5: "Sacrifice"


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Prologue:


Maa Jade Skywalker lies awake, wondering if she should have tried to kill Palpatine. Mixed in with these thoughts are worries about where her son, Ben, is. He is alive, but it’s been days.


Ben had reminded her and Luke of those they’d killed. She hopes he knows, now that he has killed, the mark that doing it leaves on a person. Luke wakes up, assures her Ben is fine. Mara knows he’s not.


The galaxy isn’t fine, their family isn’t fine. Her son is a stranger and she doesn’t even know Jacen Solo at all. Lumiya tried to kill her son and she will pay for that.

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chapter 1:


The chapter begins with the prophecies on the Knotted Tassels as recorded by Dr. Rotham.


Ben Skywalker is having a hard time trusting a ship as he flies toward the Core. He’s already dropped Shaker and Kiara off on Drewwa where they’d come from. He wonders why the girl and her father were used to lure him to Ziost. It’s not like the Amulet was that important.


He has it, a stupid, worthless thing that isn’t imbued with Sith power at all. It certainly wasn’t worth Faskus’s life. Why Jacen had been duped by it, Ben doesn’t know. He hopes it was worth the cost.


He has to get ahold of Jacen. His mission is to put the amulet in his hands.


Jacen knows that the mission didn’t go as planned. He can feel Ben, but something isn’t right. This makes him anxious because he doesn’t like what he doesn’t know. Unlike the days when he combed the galaxy for knowledge, he prefers certainty and order now.


He knows Ben won’t like being sent off on an exercise in the middle of a war, but he needed time to be himself, to break off his parents’ yoke. He tells the watch office to stop the Anakin Solo and wait for a ship.


Lt. Tebut detects a small vessel moving to intercept, but she doesn’t know what it is. Ben comms in, asking them to hold their fire. Jacen has the visual feed killed and the vessel categorized as classified. Lumiya meets Jacen at the Hangar so she can see the ship.


Ben emerges and hands Jacen the amulet, telling him he was lured to Ziost and attacked. He found the ship there and used it to escape. Jacen hadn’t expected that. It’s too soon for Ben to be thinking about the Sith.


Ben claims a Bothan named Dyur paid a courier to take the Amulet to Ziost, framed him as a thief and killed him. He has no problem treating this as classified. It’s not like he’s going to write a glowing vacation letter to his parents. He’s definitely changed on this mission.


Jacen changes tactics and asks him about the ship. It seems to operate on the thoughts of the pilot and doesn’t really like Ben that much. It’s a Sith ship. Jacen gives him credcoins to get home.


Lumiya claims it’s a Sith Meditation Sphere and it’s ancient. It claims to have found her. It recognized her when Ben ordered it to find Jacen. That’s unfortunate as Jacen shouldn’t have been able to have been tracked in the Force. Lumiya tells him it used the disturbances by others in his presence to find him.


She offers the ship to him, buth e doesn’t want a collectible, especially one that can track him. Lumiya knows he wants to ask her if she wanted Ben to die and if she knows who Jacen must kill to achieve full mastery.


She knows the answer to one, but not the other. She can only tell him that it’s soon and close.


At Keldabe on Mandalore, Boba Fett meets with about a hundred warriors. Mirta Gev watches. The others want to know where they’re going to fight. Fett thinks they should stay put and take care of their own. It’s suggested the war may come to them eventually. It always does.


The Yuuzhan Vong had wrecked havoc for the role they played during the invasion. All it did was make the people here determined to hold on to their land. It reminded them too much of the Imperial occupation.


He asks what’s in it for them. He is told that they need credits to import food. A Mando named Neth Bralor reminds him that they lost a million to the Vong. That’s not something they can shrug off. Fett doesn’t think the winner of this fight, whether it’s the GA or the Confederation will make any difference to them at all.


If the war comes too close, though, the GA may decide the Mandalorians must disarm, too. The argument is presented that the GA just wants to pool all assets into one defense force. Fett decides that, as a world, they are siding with no one. Any individual is allowed to sell their services to either side if they wish.


A mando with purple armor debates with Baltan Carid who’d fought at Caluula Station with Fett. The purple-armored man is unhappy that mercenary work will pit them against each other. That doesn’t restore the nation. They should bring people home to help rebuild their industry and reclaim their poisoned farmland.


They need to build a power base here so no one can overrun them again. Fett asks his name and is told it’s Graad. He decides he will ask two million Mandos to come home and asks how many they will get with no industry or clean farmland.


He’s going away for a few days and leaving Goran Beviin in charge. Carid tells him he did the right thing, bringing his father home to be buried. He also expresses his condolences about Fett’s daughter.


He meets up with Mirta to follow some leads on the clone. It’s been over two months now. He asks her what the best way to find another bounty hunter is. She thinks it’s to think like him. Fett tells her it’s to hire him.

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chapter 2:


Chief of State Cal Omas believes that the best way to beat the enemy is to divide them.


Admiral Niathal meets with Omas who looks much older than he did months ago. Even Jacen Solo looks like something is getting to him. She assures them both they didn’t lose the battle at Gilatter 8.


As it happens, the free-for-all stage has been reached. During any civil war, there are elements that jump in to get a piece of the action. Minor worlds are reigniting grudges with each other. Two more GA members have seceded from the Alliance . They will reach a point where they cannot support their member worlds because the Confederation will be evenly matched.


Niathal has plans made up, but there are interesting developments. The Mandalorians are not working for either side, retaining neutrality. This isn’t usual. Jacen doubts making an overature to them now will be helpful, especially since he lost Fett’s daughter while interrogating her.


Omas hadn’t known this. Niathal has begun to notice changes in Jacen’s behavior. He’d been useful to her for a long time, maybe still is, but the direct talk she’s appreciated in him seems have left. She wonders if he’s overextended himself. Not benefiting from his downfall yet, she will have to deal with this for now.


Jacen does tell him that arms seizures are up and things are much quieter. Omas isn’t convinced that’s a good thing. After Jacen leaves, he tells Niathal that the first thing that comes to mind when learning that Solo has killed a prisoner is that he might have made an enemy big enough to keep him off Omas’s back.


He doesn’t know how he let Jacen become so influential. Admiral Niathal isn’t sure what he wants her to say, but she does agree that Jacen’s methods concern her sometimes. They agree that he will either win the war or bring them all down.


It’s all so much political dialogue that brings them both into an understanding that Jacen is ambitious enough to sideline her and that Omas knows she’s eying his job. By siding with him against Jacen, she might have an easier time of attaining it.


She heads out to speak to a source named Gefal Keb who hasn’t heard anything from Mandalore, but even so, they wouldn’t tell CSF anyway. Besides, Shevu seems irritated about Solo anyway. Most of the others appreociate his popularity and willingness to risk himself, too.


Lumiya knows something is following her. The ship tells her that the pursuer is broken. They jump to hyperspace and she flashes back to the time she’d been left by Luke Skywalker. The ship assures her she’s safe.


The pursuer is still following.


It didn’t think much of the last pilot. It’s not like them. Their pursuer is. At the asteroid, they dock while Lumiya considers that she doesn’t have anything against Ben, but he’s too sentimental to be Sith material.


It doesn’t mean that he’s Jacen’s sacrifice. He has to destroy what he loves most. His sister? His parents? Herself?


The other vessel lands and Alema Rar pops out. The darkly dangerous and unstable Twi’lek admits she’s been watching Jacen Solo and thinks she can get even with his parents by working with him.


Lumiya warns her to stay away from Jacen and avoid getting in the way or she will kill her personally. Alema should examine herself and asks what Leia did to her that made her want revenge. If it’s a shallow thing like disfiguring her, Alema would do well to abandon this wasteful quest for Balance.


She is more useful tracking Jacen’s every move, especially when he leaves Coruscant. Alema agrees, then tells Lumiya that severing her lekku keeps her from communicating fully with others. The loss of her nest left her alone. Her beauty no longer attracts others. That’s what Leia did to her.


Alema tries to raise her limp arm amd move on her crippled foot. She says she used to love to dance.


Mara meets with Kyp Durron alone. He offers the Council’s help. Mara assures him this is family business and she doesn’t want to open a rift in the Council. She knows the problem and it’s Lumiya. Mara is planning to kill her. That will end the threat to Ben and remove any influence she might have ever Jacen.


Luke prefers to keep her alive and hope she can be redeemed. Mara isn’t so kind. The council often thinks like him and she is sparing them the moral dilemma of deciding how to handle a Sith.


Ben comms her and she takes off for the spaceport. He asks if she’s mad at him. Mara explains that Lumiya is trying to kill him because he killed her daughter. She’s dangerous so he needs to be on guard.


Ben thinks that if she’s as close to the GAG as his mother thinks, he’d be dead by now. Besides, it’s not like they haven’t been accumulating dangerous enemies lately. The guys in the Guard are taking bets on when Boba Fett is going to come after Jacen.


She asks about his birthday. He lies about his mission and says birthdays don’t mean much anymore. Mara assures him they’ll have a family party next year, war or not. Ben wonders if Uncle Han and Aunt Leia will want to come. She is sure they will.


She tells him that she and his father would feel better if he left the GAG. He asks if she ever had to do something she didn’t want to do because she had to. She has, and admits that, looking back, some of those things were wrong.


Ben thinks he can only go with the best data he has now.

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  • Luke and Mara had already removed Ben from Jacen before he took off. Jacen told them he didn’t know where Ben was. When Ben returns, he tells Mara he had a mission to bring a prototype ship back and she acts as if returning to the GAG is still an option! Why is she allowing him to do this? Why isn’t she questioning this mission that someone gave him? Why is she allowing her just-turned 14-year old son to participate in this?



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chapter 3:


A Mandalorian proverb: Pressure makes gems, ease makes decay.


Part of Mirta Gev wants to love her grandfather, part wants to pity him, part wants to make him pay for the lives her mother and grandmother had.


Fett tells her that this clone is not an active bounty hunter. There are none named Skirata. Though plenty of people knew Kal Skirata, he’s up and vanished. Mirta assures him the clone she met said he was on a hunt.


She asks how he copes being alone. Fett likes it that way. Mirta tells him she grew up with her mother only and didn’t like it at all. Her father died in a hull breach. Fett marvels that his daughter married a Mando. Surely, her own mother warned her about them.


Mirta tells him that Ailyn hung around them to get a better idea how to kill him. Then she met Mirta’s father, but it didn’t last. He did teach her what he knew before he died, though. Fett offers her a house of her own. She likes where she is. She tells him she’s living with the Vevut family and really likes Orade.


He wonders why she cannot get anything from the heart-of-fire shard. Mirta admits that she’s only half-Kiffar and can’t really get the full affect of the psychometry. Some Jedi can do it.


He’s not happy that she lied to him about knowing how Sintas died. She knows, but she thinks they can still find out. Fett is going to find a full-blooded Kiffar to read the shard as soon as they find that clone.


They land on Badur where she met the clone in question. In a cantina, the bartender isn’t happy about seeing more Mandos and doesn’t recognize Fett until he learns the name. He cooperates more easily then. The clone’s name was Skirata and he killed a guy in here, leaving a lot of damage behind. He killed a local businessman named Cherit who was dealing in spice and dancing girls. Fraig took over for Cherit and is holed up at the Tekshar Falls Casino.


Fett tells him to pass onto the other Mando that little Boba wants to see him on Mandalore.


Soemtimes the voice in Jacen’s head is Vergere. It could also be his subconscious. Right now, it’s his conscience nagging him about Allana. Whoever he must sacrifice, it cannot be his little girl. It was her future that made him start down this path. It’s not her and it’s not Tenel Ka.


It must be Ben.


Lekauf tells him that Admiral Niathal has sent a message about procurement problems. The troops on the front are having problems with their kits being substandard. Jacen is irritated to find this out.


When he finally gets to someone in procurement, he finds that his domestic role in the GAG isn’t enough to make changes in procurement regulations. A senior fleet officer must pursue this.


Jacen is angry that he’s being limited by simple supply rules. He borrows a legal analyst droid, then drops a word in with Admiral Niathal.


Luke knew he’d had a chance to kill Lumiya and didn’t. They’d touched hands instead. Lumiya didn’t play mind games like Vergere, but he knows she’s connected to Jacen’s fall somehow.


Mara and Ben come through the door. Luke would like to talk about what he did to make Ben run off like that. Ben assures him he was on a mission. Luke knows that only Jacen could do that. That means he lied to Luke.


He doesn’t push that line, but does tell Ben he shouldn’t stay in GAG. Ben knows his parents are concerned, but he can’t go back to being an academy Jedi after working in the field. If the GAG is a bad organization then it needs good people changing it from the inside.


The only way he’s leaving is by force or through the courts. They wanted him to be a Jedi and that’s what he’s doing.


Over dinner, he questions them on how bad the Empire really was. It came down hard on political dissidents and rebels, but ordinary people just kept living their lives. Living in fear is still better than being dead. Rebellion is a big decision, considering it consists of a few people making choices that affect the lives of trillions. He promises to be careful. Mara gives him her vibroblade for added protection.


After he leaves, Luke has to admit Ben isn’t as messed up as he’d thought, but that has more to do with his personality than Jacen’s influence. Mara confesses she was wrong to placate Ben all those months. They have to do something now that Lumiya is after him. She can’t believe Luke doesn’t believe she means any harm. He had the chance to kill her and didn’t.


He admits he couldn’t. Mara tells him that she’s not like his father, able to be redeemed. He knows this means she’s going after her. Mara will let him come along if he doesn’t go soft. Otherwise, he can have Alema.


She packs a number of dangerous weapons for the trip, promising to keep Luke informed. Luke knows how determined Mara is, but he does, for the first time in his life, regret not killing someone.

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  • At least Luke recognizes that Jacen lied to him and Mara about not knowing where Ben had gone. And yet, he still doesn’t force Ben out of the GAG. Not that he is able to do so now, but he would have some time ago.


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chapter 4


Admiral Niathal sends an order that Jacen is to receive every cooperation in resolving the supply issue.


The legal-analyst droid explains to Jacen how the Defense Council must agree on changing regulations on procurement. It does mean that the top decision makers have to approve even minor administrative changes. The intent is to make sure that civil servants don’t line their pockets or that someone doesn’t commission an entire army secretly which is what happened in the final days of the Republic. He suggests drafting an amendment that will change the requirement for approval. In the meantime, the emergency powers measures will allow him to make some changes now.


Jacen had never realized how bureaucracy could be a weapon.


He heads down to find the chief purchasing officer responsible for substandard cannons. Jacen decides that, if the man thinks they’re good enough, then he can evaluate their effectiveness himself. Using his emergency powers, he assigns the man to the front line ship with the most cannon misfires.


He is already getting congratulations from the GAG Commando troops when he returns to headquarters. LaKauf tells him it’s what his grandfather would have done. Jacen ponders a future where wars don’t pop up every generation, politicians don’t line their pockets and freedom is more than just an excuse for a few to do what they want.


These laws are circular. They give him the authority to change laws that let him change laws.


At the Rekshar Falls Casino, Mirta asks what happened to the clones. Fett tells her that most of them were cannon fodder. If some survived, it is because they deserted. He’s heard rumors of a few ending up in hospices run by good-natured souls. He never hunted the deserters, though. The pay wasn’t good.


Mirta asks if he ever cared about them as they were his brothers. Her grandfather reminds her that blood isn’t everything. In the Casino, he is ushered up to Fraig who agrees to speak with him privately.


Fraig doesn’t know the name of the Mando who killed Cherit, but it seems that he had a grudge regarding the use of Twi’lek girls in the entertainment business. Fett has to threaten him to get the rest which isn’t much beyond the family name of the Twil’ek clan being Himar.


Fett and Mirta get back to the ship where Mirta is grabbed by a Mandalorian in gray armor with nice gray gloves, remembering how his brother used to push little Boba’s head down the refreshers to teach him some manners.


Ben is glad to be back among the people he trusts. A GA officer named Almak greets him and thinks they’ve broken the Corellian networks. For now, they just have to keep an eye on people.


Captain Shevu appears for the briefing. Ben can sense his reservations through the Force. Shevu explains they are moving into finding professional agents and protecting the Chief of State and other key ministers. They will also be helping CSF monitor for safety. This means they can tap the comlinks of Senators.


No one seems to have a problem with this. Jacen assures everyone that their supply problems are a thing of the past. Ben notes how well-liked Jacen is, then he mentions how important it is to be liked for the right reasons. Jacen thinks respect is important, too.


They can respect people they don’t like, too. The men need to believe that he would never spend their lives cheaply and that their welfare comes first and that he is willing to do the same work they do.


When Jacen’s presence cuts off, Ben asks him to teach him how to hide himself in the Force. His mother thinks Lumiya is trying to kill him in retribution for her daughter. He believes that she was behind the attempts to kill him on Ziost.


Jacen guides him in a meditative state that allows him to meld with the universe. It will take practice, but Ben will become an expert. However, Jacen doesn’t think Lumiya can touch him, regardless. In the meantime, he has evidence that Dur Gejjen was behind the attack on Tenel Ka. Ben’s next mission is to assassinate him.


Ben wonders how that’s any different from what Gejjen tried to do to Tenel Ka.


Jacen tells him that doing things by the book means reporting the attempts to the authorities and seeing how long it takes them to respond. He’ll send Shevu and Lekauf with him. Ben ponders how to do this, knowing the biggest expert he knows on assassinations, his mother, is one person he can’t ask.


Jacen struggles with this. He can’t kill Ben. He might be wrong. Lumiya might be wrong. He may not have to kill anyone. The prophecy said lots of things that he doesn’t understand. Immortalizing his love doesn’t necessarily mean kill.


As if the Sith deal in absolutes. Lumiya had told him Obi-Wan had said that to Vader. A Sith has a million different possibilities.

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  • How does LeKauf know what Vader would have done? Vader wouldn’t have bumped a mid-level bureaucrat to a ship, he would have throttled the man! I think he’s looking at the past through his grandfather’s rose-colored glasses.

  • And how does Lumiya know what Obi-Wan said to Anakin? The only way she could know that is if Vader told her. Vader was not known for revealing this type of information to people. I have no doubt that neither Starkiller, Hethrir nor any of his other acolytes/apprentices/adepts or whatever you want to call them knew any of this either.

  • We got a bit in an early Republic Commando book about a retired clone in a veteran’s home that substantiates what Fett said about a few surviving the wars, but that was it.


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chapter 5:


Dur Gejjen complains that Jacen Solo is the main obstacle to peace with the GA. He is thinking of having a talk with Omas to emphasize that.


Without knowing how far Lumiya has access into the GA, Mara knows she can’t confide in Jacen about wanting to take an XJ. She contacts Leia who agrees to serve as bait. Where Alema is, Lumiya may follow.


Mara thinks that eliminating Lumiya may be the best way to get Jacen back. She’ll be seeing him soon anyway. Ben is still on Coruscant. Mara hadn’t bothered to tell him the vibroblade she gave him has a transponder in it.


Then he disappears from the Force. He hasn’t done that since he was a little boy. This is more deliberate. He comes in and out. She makes up her mind that she’s tired of Jacen doing that, much less tolerating Ben doing it.


Fett tells the clone he was looking for him so he should shut up and secure for takeoff. The clone looks at Fett, tells him he doesn’t see the family resemblance. His name is Jaing Skirata.


Fett tells Mirta he’s a Null, black ops clones that were all psych cases, but still dangerous. The clone has an animal with him, a strill named Lord Mirdalan, whose previous owner was promised Jaing would look after it when he passed on.


But he thinks he’s aged better. Fett finds it astonishing that Jaing aged at all. He knows that he had to have found Ko Sai’s research. Fett needs it because he’s dying, his doctor can’t help and Taun We is out of ideas.


Jaing reminds Fett about leading an Imperial force to attack the clones on Kamino, deposing Fenn Shysa and staying out of sight while their people were bled dry by the Empire. He certainly didn’t think Mandos were his family then.


In any event, Ko Sai’s data was destroyed after they got what they needed. If Fett is really dying then he needs to hand over command to someone so there’s not a power vaccum. The only thing Jaing can do is give him a blood sample, but he’s sure Fett will take it right to the Kaminoans.


On the other hand, he has grandchildren, too, and is forced to care what happens when Fett is gone. If Fett gives him blood and tissue samples, he’ll see if he can get something conjured for him. But he’ll only do that on the condition that Fett come back to Mandalore, liten to Kad’ika’s advice and build a strong stable world. He needs to stop trying to emulate his perfect father and try to exceed him.


Jaing gets the sample and tells Mirta to avoid taking the armor when he dies as it’s rubbish. As it is, her grandfather’s a sorry excuse for a Mando’ade, but Jaing’s father would have expected him to help him anyway.


She asks him why he went after Cherit. Jaing tells her he made another promise a long time ago. He tends to keep those.


Jacen watches the HoloNet news coverage of the Policy and Resources Council meeting, while encouraging LeKauf to consider an officer’s commission when the young man comes in to tell him that Mara Skywalker wants to see him.


Mara tells Jacen that, regardless of what Ben did or didn’t do, Lumiya is after him and she has access to the GAG. If something happened to him while working here, she’d be unhappy. Jacen wonders how much she’s figured out. Of all the masters on the Jedi Council, she would be the one to really see what’s going on.


He assures her, though, that he’s looked into it and found nothing to support it. She asks him what has happened to him. She asks why he ran out on his parents. Jacen confesses he thought they were fine and wanted to be where he could make a difference in the battle. She notes this is an error in judgment. She’s known for them herself, to be honest. The statement isn’t lost on him.


Jacen knows she knows and that’s why the sacrifice has to be Ben. He doesn’t know how he can work with his cousin every day knowing that.


He confronts Lumiya, accusing her of arranging the attacks on Ben on Ziost. She tells him that Ben doesn’t have what it takes to be an apprentice. He tells her to stay away from him. Lumiya assures him that Mara can’t touch him, then notes that someone in the public gallery has asked to speak about his amendment.


It turns out to be just a budgetary question. Once it’s resolved, the amendment passes. Jacen goes back to the things that need to be changed. He knows that if he kills Ben, Luke and Mara will come after him. He will bring the whole Jedi order down and no one will be his apprentice.


But he’s come too far now. He can’t believe the Senate would be stupid enough to give him all this power. They deserved to be ruled by Sith.

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  • We all remember Jaing Skirata from the Republic Commando books. The strill is Mird who belonged to Walon Vau from the same series. Apparently, Vau is dead.

  • And it’s becoming increasingly suspect that this Kad’ika is probably Kad, the son of Darman and Etain Tur-Mukan.

  • Doesn’t sound like the Empire was all that great to Mandalore, was it? I wonder if maybe the clones and their buir longed for the good old days of indulgent Jedi when they could get away with just about anything?


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chapter 6:


The HoloNet reports minor clashes breaking out that require GA intervention.


Aboard the Bounty, Admiral Niathal assesses the new Bothan ships. As it is, she laments not knowing who assassinated the Bothan politicans and kicked this whole thing off. Their assests could have been GA assets otherwise.


Commander Piris is a Quarren and that doesn’t bother Niathal. Some Mon Cals avoid serving with Quarren and vice versa. She has to admit that the Mon Cals probably didn’t have the right to take Quarren children for social engineering. Jacen Solo would call her a wet liberal for thinking so.


It’s not going to be easy wiping him off her boots when the time comes.


Pris thinks she will be Chief of State soon.


The battle goes well, but she knows they cannot continue to put out every brushfire everywhere. They need to concentrate on Corellia, Commenor and Bothawui or else get an extra fleet with no one to man it.


Piris points out that most Empire collapse under their own weight. She wonders if this is what she’s seeing now. It’s time she spoke with Cal Omas and she needs Jacen Solo to support her.


Captain Girdun shows Ben to the monitoring center where they keep an eye on Senators and other problems. They tap all government staff, their own special list of criminals and politicians. One of the troopers complains that all he is doing is sitting for eight hours listening to politicians making arrangements. Before he can go on, Girdun reminds him that Ben is 14.


Ben points out that he has seen and done much worse than what he will actually be hearing. He will be listening to tagged recordings for anyone who might be contacting Senators for odd reasons. Which is better than assassinating Dur Gejjen. Ben is trying to talk himself through the morality of the situation and really has no one else to confide in.


Sadly, the monitoring doesn’t go well. Girdun and another officer find a recording between Gejjen and Chief Omas. Ben didn’t know they were tapping the Chief’s secure line. Gejjen explains a resolution is possible if both sides can remove a few hotheads. He is prepared to call for a cease fire under certain conditions. Corellia will pool its assets with the GA, but both Admiral Niathal and Jacen Solo have to go.


Omas wants Centerpoint Station inoperable. Gejjen tells him it already is. Once Corellia steps down, Commenor and Bothawui will, too. Omas doesn’t think that the Senate will agree to this, especially since G’Sil has a lot of weight. Gejjen points out that there are ways of taking out Niathal and Solo that do not involve the Senate.


Girdun orders a transcript sent to Colonel Solo at once.


Ben asks if Omas isn’t allowed to speak with the prime minister of Corellia. If Gejjen can plot the deaths of Tenel Ka and engineer Thrackan Sal-Solo’s death, he could certainly have no issues with doing the same to Jacen and the admiral. Ben understands that his mission is very important. Chief Omas could be plotting with Gejjen or walking into a trap.


Jacen reads the transcript again. Admiral Niathal is already hot to speak with Omas, but she doesn’t think he would be foolish enough to try to get rid of either of them. She does, however, think that the Security Council be made aware of the conversation so G’Sil will feel included.


Jacen thinks G’Sil not knowing gives him plausible deniability. Niathal asks if he appreciates the irony of bypassing the Senate about the Chief of State bypassing the Senate. He assures her it’s an emergency kid and points out the Emergency Measures Act could be amended to allow them to detain heads of states presenting a risk to the GA.


Everyone would look at Dur Gejjen, not even thinking of Cal Omas. He asks if she would stand with him. Niathal reminds him he needs the support of the military. Jacen agrees and suggests they meet with Cal Omas to determine his intentions.


Niathal presents her complaint that they cannot keep rushing to every small skirmish and still fight the Bothans. He reminds her that they could risk losing Alliance worlds if they don’t feel protected.


Jacen thinks it all goes back to Corellia. They need to invade, destroy their industrial base and get rid of Gejjen. The man has no qualms about assassinating heads of state; Jacen suspects Omas will be next.


Omas would rather have evidence of that first. What he doesn’t say is anything about a clandestine meeting with Gejjen or any indication that he’s moving toward negotiation again. He should realize he’s being spied on, too. But in not coming forward, he seals his fate.


Omas finally decides that a faull assault on Corellia is unworkable. They can consider it much later, but, for now, he has to stop systems from succeeding from the Galactic Alliance. Jacen pretends to be upset, but only cautions that he thinks it’s a big mistake, especially as the GAG can support Intelligence beyond Coruscant.


Omas expresses his appreciation for Jacen’s offer, but the GAG must stay domestic.


Privately, Niathal and Jacen muse that Omas wasn’t open with them. On the other hand, Jacen’s never told him they’ve got GAG working on Corellia. Niathal offers to see if this can go to the Security Council. Jacen would rather this not turn into an internal power struggle.


If Omas makes a deal with Gejjen, all of their plans are derailed and the GA is in a more vulnerable position. Omas is a fool to trust Gejjen enough to meet with him privately. He’s asked for no protection from anyone. It’s time for a regime change. They remove Omas from power, handle the emergency and then give the GA to Senator G’Sil until new elections can be set up.


Niathal isn’t sure how that will work in the interim. Jacen admits she and he will have joint authority over the GA until new elections. It won’t be a dictatorship. Niathal doesn’t mince words when she refers to this as a military coup.


Jacen privately muses that two is the Sith way, after all. He would rule as a Sith Lord eventually. She would handle the issues of state.


He offers to eliminate Gejjen and remove Omas by putting him under house arrest. They have to do everything under the law so they look like concerned civilians. She realizes he’s referring to his amendment. Jacen has that tabled for next week. For now, he’ll have someone surveilling Omas and Gejjen’s meeting so they will have evidence to convince G’Sil.


They will have to move quickly. With this plan, there’s no unnecessary violence. That’s his end goal – no more chaos and instability.


While on his way to the GAG HQ, he comms Lumiya and asks to meet with her.

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chapter 7:


Goran Beviin is asked to come see a significant find that appears to be an unexpected benefit of the Vong attacks.


Lumiya is disappointed that Jacen continues to use the mundane skills of conniving and manipulating rather than develop his abilities in the Force. He believes using the Force anymore is just overkill.


She urges him to meditate, so they can both approach this like Force users. The old Jacen is still there and held back by his fear of doing what’s necessary. Jacen believes that, even when he controls the galaxy, he will need people in support positions. Lumiya realizes he enjoys the mind games. It’s indulgence and was Palpatine’s mistake.


He needs to stop overanalyzing and just feel. Jacen tells her the sacrifice has to be Ben. She understands now. Jacen is fond of him and may even consider him the child he doesn’t have. It’s close enough to the truth that he rolls with it. It’s hard to kill someone who doesn’t deserve it.


It’s possible he could be killed assassinating Dur Gejjen


However, Jacen needed to speak with Lumiya because Mara is fixated on this Brisha story and is coming after her. He wants Lumiya to distract her. Lumiya, had it been up to her, would have avoided both Skywalkers altogether.


However, they are not effective and that should be ample warning to Jacen. Luke can’t see what’s in front of him because he believes Lumiya sees him as a lost love and wants revenge. He can only think in terms of family and friends, not that she is looking at a bigger picture.


There is a difference between accepting one’s emotions and giving them control. As for Mara, Lumiya thinks she’ll let her find her. She asks for something of Ben’s that will show Lumiya can get to him easily.


Jacen offers to get her a pair of boots from Ben’s GAG locker that will verify Mara’s suspicions that Lumiya is gaining access to Ben here. In a fight though, Mara might win. Lumiya is prepared to accept that she could lose her life.


As for Jacen, he needs to be innovative and remember that Luke can still beat him in a lightsaber duel.


Chief Omas cancels all his appointments for an undisclosed medical reason and puts Niathal in charge as acting Chief of State. The GAG has the intelligence prepared to track him. Ben will have to get to Gejjen after the meeting so that there will be evidence that a secret gathering actually happened.


Ben is given a sniper rifle. He turns to Captain Shevu and asks if he’s okay with this. Shevu admits he is not a spy, ordinarily, but they cannot risk Gejjen killing Omas. He thinks they should stop Omas from going altogether, but that just compromises the mission.


Ben notices that Shevu doesn’t make political comments.


Lekauf shows Ben how to use the rifle, noting his Jedi skills will make him a better marksman. His dad used to tell him all kinds of stories he learned about Vader from his own father. Lekauf used to think they were just stories until he saw what Jedi could actually do.


Ben notices that Lekauf has a good opinion of Vader. The young man admits his grandfather was severely burned on a mission and Vader made sure that he was taken care of for the rest of his life.


In the rain, Beviin and Fett stand outside. Fett admits he’s dying and that he discovered Jaing Skirata had survived. Beviin wished he’d known that Fett was looking for Ko Sai’s research. A lot of clones deserted and ended up here. He doesn’t know if any of them had the aging process stopped, but he could have tracked them down to find out.


They stop at Beviin’s home where his daughter, Dinua, is staying home right now while her husband is away fighting. At the workshop on the farm, Medrit Vasur shows Fett the beskar that was found.


Imperials strip-mined Mandalore for years, taking the valuable beskar metal out, but they didn’t dig enough. The Yuuzhan Vong pounded remote parts of the world, creating craters big enough to reveal a huge lode of beskar. This could mean economic prosperity for Mandalore.


It was discovered by Mando’ade returning home. Fett’s summons is already benefiting his world, even if it’s not saving his life.

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  • Lekauf’s grandfather was Erv Lekauf who appeared in a couple of short stories. The burn incident occurred in Star Wars Insider #85, “The Two-Edged Sword”.

  • Ah, so that Imperial garrison stuck around and strip-mined the planet then! I wondered how those beskar sales in the Commando books were going to affect the world.

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chapter 8:


The chapter begins with Gejjen plotting to let the GA get used to a cease-fire and then regroup everyone to hit Coruscant.


Shevu gives Ben some brown hair dye since a redheaded boy is going to be remembered.


Ben will be inserted ahead of time with Lekauf, while Shevu himself shadows Omas. They will meet up on the world of Vulpter where the meeting will take place in one of the Spaceport’s conference rooms. It will be easy to believe that Corellians assassinated their own Prime Minister anyway.


They have a history of doing so. Ben will be wearing Corellian clothes, using a Corellian accent and the ship will be Corellian with the planet’s registration, food stuffs and even dust inside it.


Shevu knows that Ben’s father finds it hard to accept this kind of work, but the captain is proud of Ben. Of course, he wouldn’t want his own son doing this until he was an adult but he knows Colonel Solo has his reasons.


Ben knows his father was blowing up the Death Star and killing a lot of civilians who were only doing their jobs when he was only a few years older than Ben. He’ll have to remember that if his role in this affair comes out. His dad is likely to blame Jacen anyway.

Ben dies his hair, changes his clothes and looks for his parade-best boots which seem to be missing. He assumes Lekauf has swiped them for some kind of practical joke.


Luke wakes up, knowing that Lumiya is somewhere near his apartment. He gets up to look for her and the sensation is gone. One of the doors is wedged open, however, and he finds that a pair of Ben’s boots is what’s stuck there. It’s a clear sign from Lumiya.


He immediately calls Jacen who is patronizing and sounds a little more than irritated at having to deal with this in the middle of the night. He grudgingly promises to look into it.


Luke calls Mara who is with Jaina right now. He tells her Lumiya has been outside their apartment, but doesn’t mention what she left there. He wants her to stay there for a few minutes. Mara warns him the trail could grow cold if they wait. He worries that it’s a diversion. Mara points out it could be a trail she wants him to think is a diversion. That’s how Lumiya thinks.


Luke realizes that his problem has been his unwillingness to act anymore. When he was 19, it was all so easy to drop his life and go after someone crying for help. Now, he is the leader of an Order and has reduced his life to managing others. That’s not what he does best.


He forgot who he was. He is Luke Skywalker and he can finish off Lumiya.


At GA Starfighter Command, Mara and Jaina talk about this relationship between Alema and Lumiya. Mara admits she thinks Lumiya is influencing Jacen. She knows she’s the last person to notice this. Jaina has known for awhile, but he isn’t her responsibility and even when she tried to challenge him, he tried to court-martial her.


Luke appears, saying he’s going to go after Lumiya. Mara won’t let him because he’s too close to the situation. Lumiya is baiting him. He dumps Ben’s boots on the desk and tells her that Lumiya left them at the door.


Mara turns coldly angry, insisting that she’s the trained killer. She will go after Lumiya while Luke keeps an eye on Jacen, in case all this is a diversion to get them all off Coruscant. Jaina wants to come, too, so she can help if Alema is there.


Mara feels that she’s the one who let it get this bad, so she has to be the one to sort it out. Before she goes, she checks the datapad. Ben’s transponder is on Vulpter. She says nothing to Luke, who’s already angry. It’s time to end this feud with the cyborg lady once and for all.

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chapter 9:


An investment analyst notes that futures in Mandalorian iron are being talked up.


At Mandalmotors, Jir Yomaget shows Boba Fett the unfinished prototype of a ship that, fitted with beskar, would be the fastest, least vulnerable fighter on the market. Their market shares are skyrocketing. Fett himself bought some to make sure majority stock stays on-world.


They’ll arm anyone who can pay, even the GA if Colonel Solo himself shows up to negotiate. He’ll have to if he doesn’t want these turning up in Confederation hands. They’ll call the ship the Bes’uliik – the Basilisk.


On Vulpter, Ben and Lekauf wait for Shevu who is following Omas. It would have been better to get Gejjen as he’s departing the ship, but they’ll have to do it when he leaves. Lekauf wishes they’d put a bug on the man. Ben points out that people eventually find bugs anyway.


They move in and Ben gets a sense of the number of people in the room, only six. A stripcam is slipped at the doorway so they can see who’s there. Ben monitors the conversation.


Both heads of state agree to non-accusatory verbiage, promise to pull back their hardliners and commit to restoring order in systems taking advantage of the war to cause problems. However, Gejjen points out that this is likely only to work if Niathal and Solo don’t carry the weight that they do now. He’s not convinced that removing them from authority positions will be enough. Both are too used to getting their own way by now. They are ambitious, dangerous and have subordinates who are ambitious enough to look the other way.


Omas knows he’s speaking of Captain Girdun. They both laugh. This makes Lekauf angry that the GAG is being dismissed so easily. It’s clear that Omas is going to look the other way while Gejjen strikes at Jacen and Admiral Niathal. It’s all dirty from the top.


Shevu comms that Gejjen is on the move. Ben moves into position, takes the shot and has to be told to get out of there. He meets up with Lekauf and Shevu, moving casually with the crowds toward the door. They don’t make it before armed CSA officers order everyone to stay where they are.


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chapter 10:


Boba Fett notes a HoloNet report about a growing tension between Murkhana and the Verpine over trade agreements.


Mara follows Lumiya’s magnified wake in the Force. Fortunately, she’s careful. Jaina warns her to take deep breaths and clear her head. Mara notes that Lumiya’s targets are are small in number. She’s had opportunities to attack Luke and Jacen, Ben and Jaina’s parents aren’t even on Coruscant, so that means she hoping Mara will follow.


Jaina thinks they should call Zekk and Jag in case Alema is in town, too. Mara says she can go after the Twi’lek but it’s Mara Lumiya wants. The reason is unknown, but she keeps taunting Mara about how easy it is to get to her husband and son. Jaina reluctantly agrees. Mara assures her that it’s just a Dark Side feud. They should let Lumiya distract both of them.


Mara leaves Coruscant for the moon of Hesperidium, one of Palpatine’s old haunts. Landing on the strip, she walks through the gaps, vowing there will be no more games. An odd ship that looks like an eye it sitting there. It’s as if it’s some kind of living being and Lumiya is inside.


It’s surely a trap, but not necessarily one that will be in Lumiya’s favor. The ship admits that Mara is not who it expected. She is very similar to the others. The other one is close by. Mara tells it it’s a Sith object. The ship explains that she knows darkness well, not like the other one that it had expected to see again.


Inside, the ship is empty of all controls, but Lumiya is there. Her training as the Emperor’s Hand kicks in and she flies at Lumiya. The Sith’s lightwhip is not to be taken casually. Mara’s blaster hits metal in Lumiya’s shoulder, then she rams into her, inadvertently hitting the metal jaw.


Mara shuts down her lightsaber, stunned, and pushes down into Lumiya’s chest before reigniting it. Lumiya pulls to the side. She screams which Mara doesn’t think should be happening to a dead woman. Mara wonders if she herself is dead.


Something hits her from behind, knocking her into Lumiya who uses her lightwhip to wrap around Mara’s neck. Then Mara is shoved out of the ship against something hard. Losing air and blood, Mara watches as Lumiya’s boots disappear. Two security officers arrive as the ship leaves. Mara uses the Jedi Mind Trick to convince them this was just a holovid scene performed by two stuntwomen.


She jumps into her XJ, angry that she hadn’t killed Lumiya. Something had jumped her from behind that she didn’t sense, possibly a droid. But she hadn’t sensed any malice from Lumiya either. That doesn’t stop her from following the ship.


Jacen watches the recording of the meeting, then has the legal analyst droid action the amendment allowing the GAG to detain heads of state who present a danger to the GA.


Niathal knows this is coming and will keep quiet because of the promise of power. Senator G’Sil and the Security Council will have to go through the formalities first. He will consolidate his own power behind the scenes because he can’t work within the confines of a democracy. It’s too chaotic.


No one has reported in yet and the HoloNet has no word on Gejjen’s fate. He arranges the timing of both his visit to Omas and Niathal’s visit to G’Sil to coincide before waiting for a call from Shevu. He can feel Ben in the Force, alive, but not well.


The officer tells the crowd that there’s been a shooting and no one is leaving until they’ve been scanned for ballistic residue. Ben uses his earpiece to tell the others he’s going to find a weak point in the crowd and get out.


Lekauf warns him not to use the Force to do it or they’ll know he’s a Jedi. Shevu thinks they should go with their contingency plan. Lekauf reaches for the rifle under Ben’s coat to dump it.


He moves along the hall to the landing area. Shevu tells Ben to stick with him no matter what. Lekauf takes a hostage, claims responsibility for the crime and boards a small ship before pushing the hostage out. But the ship doesn’t launch.


Ben worries that the drive is disabled. Shevu drags him off, telling him Lekauf is doing what has to be done. The boy won’t abandon his friend, but the explosion of the ship makes the argument moot.

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  • Murkhana was the world where the Roan Shryne and the other Jedi were stationed in Dark Lord: the Rise of Darth Vader.




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chapter 11:


The HoloNet reports that Prime Minister Dur Gejjen has been shot at the spaceport on Vulpter. His assassin was killed when his ship blew up.


At Keldabe, Fett takes a call from Sass Sikili who negotiates for the Verpines on behalf of Roche. Sikili wants to purchase some of the exciting new products the Mandalorians are producing, but is also concerned about expansion that usually happens when the Mandos are prosperous. Fett suggests a non-aggression pact that will involve the Verpines trading some of their exclusive products, too.


He finds Mirta with Ghes Orade at Ailyn’s grave. Taking advantage of the opportunity, he warns Orade not to break her heart at the risk of his legs. He actually came here to see his father’s grave.


Mirta stays behind and shows him where the Mandos usually bury their dead. It’s a mass grave with no headstone. It’s practical, due to their nomadic nature and it’s free fertilizer. Mirta reminds him there’s nothing wrong with seeing the bigger picture of being together in the Manda. Fett would rather opt out of that as he doesn’t want to spend eternity with the likes of Vizsla.


He asks her how the Manda handles those adopted from other species. Or what the rest of the galaxy does. She just jams her helmet back on and goes to the speeder. Fett vows to keep his mouth shut in the future. Most of those who are dead can stay that way. The only person he wants to see again is his father anyway.


At the Vevut house, Orade’s father, Novoc, is in his workship. He asks Mirta if she’s going to be part of the family. He offers to make her a sturdy blaster if she marries his son. Ghes was adopted, the son of Vevut’s neighbors. They had a hard time getting along at first. He allows that Fett may be having the same difficulties despite the fact that Mirta is a blood relative. Vevut asks if Fett has any objection to his son marrying Mirta. Fett notes that she’s old enough to make her own decisions.


He tells Vevut about the Verpine deal before heading back to Slave I. He’s not Mando enough for some people; too Mando for others. A message from Jaing Skirata is there. Since Fett did right by Mandalore, Jaing’ll do right by him.


Fett takes out the black book his father had left him. Though he’s gone through it many times, he just wants to look at his father’s face again.


The Jedi Council holds an emergency meeting. Saba would like to be assured that the GA had nothing to do with Gejjen’s death. Luke reminds her there are plenty of Corellians with a reason, but he will look into it. He’s starting to worry about Mara.


As it is, the Jedi Council is not being told anything by the government at all. Katarn is concerned about the timing of Omas being away. There are too many uncertainties, such as the lack of a head of state for Corellia and the deal between the Mandalorians and Verpines. The uncomfortable quiet coming from Boba Fett himself despite the death of his daughter at Jacen’s hands.


Luke thinks they should offer to mediate the dispute between the GA and Corellia.


Mara walks in with a black eye, split lips and bruised ribs. She apologizes for being late. She ran into Lumiya who got the worse end of the fight. Mara is tracking her to her base. She’s not saying anything else in case someone gets the bright idea to help her.


Luke confirms that there’s nothing they can do about the Gejjen assassination so they’ll just have to keep observing. He’s got an appointment to see Omas when he comes back. Kyp reminds him that Omas is probably on the way out so they may as well get as much out of him as they can.


They’ll also have to figure out who is close to Niathal. All eyes turn to Cilghal who reminds them that not all Mon Cals live harmoniously. She and Niathal are very different. However she’s Ackbar’s niece and that may count for something. She agrees to try.


After the meeting breaks up, Mara gives the details to Luke. After hearing about the droid and the strange ship, to say nothing of what Mara herself went through, Luke feels that those are all reasons for her not to be hunting Lumiya alone. Mara assures him she’ll catch up to her next time.


Han confirms that few are in mourning for Gejjen, but two different terror groups are claiming responsibility and the government is in the hands of a committee. Luke almost brings up the possibility of the GA being involved, but doesn’t because it would imply Jacen being behind it.


Omas picked a bad day to go to the doctor.


Ben sits in the cargo hold of the ship, pondering how Lekauf was there one minute, gone the next. Shevu tells him to come on. Ben knows he thinks he’s too young to do this. Shevu tells him they don’t lose many in special forces but it’s harder when they do.


Ben tells him they could have run or been captured. Lekauf didn’t have to die. Shevu reminds him their orders were to make it look like Corellians were behind it. They could not risk being captured, especially Ben.


For now, he’s got to come up with a cover story to give to Lekauf’s parents. Ben doesn’t think he’ll ever stop feeling guilty. Shevu admits he won’t either, because the plan was for him to blow the ship up, not Lekauf.


Ben ponders how he didn’t have to be the one to carry out this mission. He wonders if Jacen set him up. When he leaves HQ, he runs into his mom who hugs him and says she has some questions.


They sit in a tapcaf. She asks why he was at Vulpter. Ben doesn’t know how she knows but denies it. She insists she knows he was and suspects she knows why. She could go above him and asks Jacen but doubts she would believe anything he said.


Ben tells her he can’t talk about his work. She knows that because she’s done the same kind of work. That’s why they can talk to each other. Anyone who does this job isn’t a child anymore.


He asks who hurt her. She tells him it was Lumiya who won’t get away next time. Ben admits he did the job. Lekauf was killed to save him. He did it on Jacen’s orders because it was felt he was the best person to do it.


Ben knows his mother is furious, but she holds her temper, tells him she won’t tell his father for fear of what he’d do to Jacen. She won’t force him to come home, but wants him to come to her if he has any problems.


She also knows he’s been hiding in the Force. Mara urges him not to hide from her as she nearly thought he was dead the first time he did it. He promises he won’t. Kissing her on her cheek, he whispers that Gejjen was having a secret meeting with Omas about a cease-fire.


Ben goes back to Jacen’s apartment, locks himself in his room and wonders what Shevu is telling Lekauf’s parents.

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  • Ah yes, the famous black book that was soooo very unhelpful to young Boba Fett with all those vague pronouncements! I’m sure we remember that from the Young Boba Fett series.

  • Vizsla is probably Tor Vizsla who was killed by Jango Fett.



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chapter 12:

A Mandalorian proverb for someone too comfortable with authority: All helmet, no head.
Jacen Solo plans to talk to Shevu about sending Ben home on leave without clearing it first.
He takes two officers to the Republica House where Omas himself lets him in. The Chief of State admits he didn’t care for Gejjen, but the incident certainly illustrates the dangers in their line of work. He is pleasant, however, offering them drinks and seats.
Jacen is here on business. Quoting the new amendment to the Emergency Measures Act, he arrests Omas for posing a risk to the security of the GA. Omas realizes the purpose of Jacen’s amendment. Faced with the recording of the meeting with Gejjen, he maintains a dignified posture while calling Jacen obnoxious and power-crazed, accusing him of assassinating Gejjen.
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chapter 13:


Market News reports that trading was suspended after the arrest of Cal Omas and the declaration of temporary martial law.


Cha Niathal practices her speech that will assure GA citizens to expect nothing out of the ordinary during this time. She plans to show footage of Omas’s secret meeting and add news about Mandalorian re-arming to emphasize the difficult times in which they live.


Senator G’Sil asks her how reliable she thinks Jacen is. He thinks killing Gejjen was extreme and would never have authorized it himself. She points out that the deed is done and Corellian fringe groups are allieving suspicion by claiming responsibility and the Mandalorians have been entirely too helpful.


All they care about is eating, drinking, fighting and maintaining their self-image. Fett isn’t going to expand beyond his territory. He knows his people can’t handle running a modern government. However, they are fiersome fighters so his presence will scare the smaller worlds into clinging to the GA for protection.


She asks if he’s planning to run for Chief of State once this is over and normal elections can be held. Not wanting to end up like Omas, he’ll pass, but reiterates her need to reign in Solo. She’s aware of the problems and plans to tactically neutralize him soon.


Her speech is conciliatory and truthful. She stresses that there will be no curfew or censorship. She’s just taking her responsibility to act as a deputy for the Chief of State on the advice of the GA security services.


The senator from Kuat asks her to clarify if security services means Alliance intel or the GAG. She shows the recording of the clandestine meeting between Omas and Gejjen, with Alliance Intel officers present. Niathal explains that she felt that taking advice from GAG was more objective.


G’Sil steps up to assure them that GA troops working with CSF is intended to prevent anarchist groups on Coruscant, who are still permitted to speak their minds, from using other methods to be heard.


The Senator from Harruun Kal quips that there’s no need to worry about anarchists overthrowing the government when Niathal got there first.


Ignoring that, Niathal goes on to say she is asking Jacen Solo to act as joint Chief of State with her to ensure that the power doesn’t just rest with one person.


Afterwards, she orders the markets opened, the Alliance Intel put under the GAG command with Girdun in charge and Omas’s office sealed. That way no one gets the chair and it assures people that there will be civilian in charge at some point.


G’Sil doesn’t need to know she cut a deal with Solo, but she does tell him she can keep an eye on him as her co-Chief. They both want the same things, but she doesn’t like his methods. Niathal sends a message to Luke Skywalker assuring him that she still wants a good working relationship.


Though Mara’s injuries have healed, Luke knows something is rattling here and it’s more than Lumiya or Alema. As for the morning news, he may not have gotten along with Omas all the time but doubts he’s a security risk.


They can’t interfere in the transfer of power during a war. Kyp comes right out and says this is all on Jacen. They should have stopped him when he was kicking down doors. Now he’s out of control. No one thinks that he will decline Niathal’s offer.


Luke thinks it’s time he went to see Jacen. Admiral Niathal already wants to speak with Luke anyway. Mara admits she might see all of this as an attempt by Corellia to destabilize the GA, but she knows how much trouble Corellia is in right now.


Luke knows she doesn’t think the assassination and Omas’s removal from power are coincidental. Something else is going on here and Mara isn’t talking. For now, he’s going to speak with Niathal and suggests they decide how they are going to act and if they are going to act. They need to be careful lest they leave the situation worse.


Mara reminds him talking to Jacen is pointless, Omas isn’t the most sensible person and Niathal has her own agenda that has nothing to do with Lumiya.


Ben sees and hears Lekauf everywhere. He could fall back on his age and claim that he doesn’t have to be tough, but he can’t act like an adult sometimes and a kid the next. Besides, fretting about this is worrying his mother who has enough to think about while pursuing Lumiya.


He heads down to Jacen’s office where he stops, overhearing a conversation. Jacen speaks to a woman, accusing her of over playing it. The woman points out it gave Jacen time to act without anyone looking over his shoulder. As it is, her target actually believes this is about some daughter.


He thinks her cover story is too complex. She points out that mind-rubbing Ben about Nelani was, too. Jacen doubts Ben would understand. The woman tells him that’s why Ben isn’t a good choice for an apprentice and should be gotten rid of. He’s co-Chief of State now, anyway. They both know Niathal is trying to keep an eye on him, but he needs the support of the military.


He quips that Lumiya is such a strategist, calling her by name.


Ben is stunned. Jacen is working with Lumiya, he mind-rubbed Ben and he lied to him. He struggles to come up with a reason for this. Ben has to tell someone and the only person he knows he can tell is his mother.

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chapter 14:


Murkhana refuses to be threatened by the Roche ambassador about the deal with the Mandalorians.


Fett is approached by a man who calls himself Venku. Venku wears armor of different colors. He explains the chest plates and shoulders came from his uncles, the forearm from his father, the thigh from his cousin and the belt from his aunt. He’s got a big family.


He’s relieved though that Fett has decided to be a proper Mandalore now. He gives Fett a small blue container, reminding him that he owes his people and that there will be someone along to administer it.


Fett realizes this is one of Jaing’s minions. He tells him to thank Jaing for him and to tell him they’re even. Venku is about to say something when an old man in full fighting armor walks by, stops and says he never thought he’d live to see the day and then moves on.


Venku tells him he made the old man’s day. He pulls off his helmet to reveal a face just like his own had been once and his father’s. Venku tells him that he’s Kad’ika and Boba is his uncle.


Ben has been crying. Mara doesn’t know whether it’s about Jacen’s betrayal or Lekauf still. He wonders if he imagined it, but she assures him he didn’t. Ben tells her she can tell anyone she wants, but he doesn’t want his dad thinking he’s a moron.


Knowing that she defended Jacen the longest, she tells him he’s not anymore of one than the rest. She explains that Jacen brushed off any threat Lumiya poses. Ben tells her about his trip to Ziost and what happened there, including the discovery of the ship that he left the planet with.


She knows this is Lumiya’s ship and understands that Ben was the other one that it had communicated to her about. It wasn’t a droid that attacked her, but the ship. He tells her he flew it to the Anakin Solo and gave it to Jacen.


Mara tells him that this is serious. She can’t believe she trusted that monster and ignored every sign that he was trouble. She tells Ben to be a coward and call in sick. He needs to stay as far away from Jacen as possible.


They spend the day together, him showing her how to hide in the Force, walking through the botanical gardens. She is sorry about Lekauf and tells Ben to make his own life count so his wasn’t wasted.


She tells him she won’t be good old mom for awhile, but she loves him and nothing matters to her more than him. He believes her because she didn’t ask him to trust her. He’s learned that those who ask that usually don’t deserve it.


Ben isn’t at the apartment when Jacen gets there, but he might be with his parents, working out his recent actions. The Force is at work here. He’d been sure Ben would die on Vulpter but it appears he’s not going to be let off the hook.


He eats, bathes and reaches out in the Force to touch Allana. He’ll likely never hear her call him daddy. He’s almost sure she reaches back to him. Jacen wants to visit Tenel Ka soon.


The Force shows him a vision. Ben has trusted him, believed his lies and accepted danger. Now the vision shows him Ben sobbing and saying it is too high a price. He knows this vision may be about himself. He can’t accept it’s Ben even though he would be easy to kill.


He has to accept the inevitable. Analyzing his weapons, knowing a lightsaber and blaster won’t help him when Luke and Mara come after him, he confirms his arsenal of poisons and toxins is sufficient, then goes to sleep pondering who his apprentice will be when Ben is gone.

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  • Pretty darn sure it’s confirmed then. Venku was the name Etain gave her son at birth. Darman changed it to Kad. This Venku person is their son. He was born about halfway through the Clone Wars and should be about 60 by now.



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chapter 15:


Jacen Solo tells the heads of the military that he needs to get touch on the causes of chaos and disorder: greed, corruption and ambition.


Mirta, Orade, Beviin and Medrit pile at the door. They find Fett on the floor, breathing hard. A woman is injecting him with something while another man stands with his back to the door.


Fett explains that Jaing kept his promise or else is poisoning him.


The man tells the female vet not to let him die before he does something useful. He’ll start recovering in a few days. The man looks a lot like Mirta’s grandfather and Jaing. Mirta realizes this person is related to her. Her grandfather introduces him as Venku who uses the alias Kad’ika. She realizes this is the son of a clone.


Yomaget has gotten the Bes’uliik spaceworthy and brings it over to show them. If they can get it fitted with some Verpine technology it will be light, fast and tough. Medrit takes it out for a spin.


It’s good times for Mandalore. If only Jacen Solo were roasting on an open pit, Mirta would happily join in the raucous singing at the tapcaf that night.


Jacen arrives at the Senate building to see a large crowd outside. He steps out, talks to several people, assures them that Omas will get a fair hearing. A woman reminds him that the GA is being run by the Supreme Commander and the head of the secret police, neither of whom were elected.


He acknowledges this and promises that he won’t be running things once the war is over. He invites them inside and shows them Chief Omas’s office. That office is for the elected Chief of State. Neither he nor Admiral Niathal have moved in.


Niathal tells him how slick that was and points out they should share media attention in the future. She takes him to her office where there’s a snag developing in their new policy. The Murkhana Senator Nav Ekhat


She is concerned that the new treaty between Mandalore and Roche puts her world at risk. Now that forces are being concentrated in the Corellian and Bothawui systems, she fears Murkhana will be ignored.


Niathal feels that issues of trade disputes need to be referred to the interplanetary civil courts first. Committing troops over this is unnecessary. Jacen plays the conciliatory role by explaining the need to avoid saber-rattling so soon. He does suggest that a small squadron and a frigate in the area may inspire the Roche to be more reasonable.


The senator isn’t happy but it’s likely all she can get. Niathal points out that sending out small forces like that isn’t going to help matters. They cannot send out military resources every time there is a local disagreement. She also doesn’t want Jacen committing those resources without discussing it with her.


Jacen points out that this is an opportunity to evaluate the new Mandalorian fighters. G’Sil thinks this will just provoke Fett who already has a personal grudge against Jacen. Niathal suggests he pay the Mandalorians to stay home. It’s better for everyone.


As it is, this transfer of power has gone well because of the lack of change for most of the population. Still, Jacen is worried that this is the lull before a storm. He wants to visit Tenel Ka and Allana before that happens.


When he is established as a Sith Lord, then he’ll deal with the Mandalorians.


At Corellia, Leia tells Mara that that a triumvirate is running the planet until a new candidate can be chosen. Since two have died in just a few months, no one is rushing to volunteer for the job.


Leia can tell that, since Luke isn’t here, Mara has a delicate problem. Mara admits it’s Jacen. Leia tells her it’s hard to keep track of how her son is doing by watching the HoloNet. Han isn’t taking this well and she fears that this’ll kill him.


Mara asks if she thinks Jacen can be manipulated by Lumiya. Leia doesn’t think so. Lumiya could push him over the edge, but Jacen makes his own decisions. It would have been easier if Leia thought her son was just a good boy deluded by the company he kept. Right now, it’s become a situation of Mara’s son or Leia’s.


She can’t tell Leia that she’s going to kill her son.


So they go to an expensive restaurant and eat a fancy dessert and smiling. Mara will go to Jacen one more time because she owes it to Han and Leia who probably can’t take any more pain.

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chapter 16:


The Bothawui government negotiates with the Mandalorians for exclusive rights to their Bes’uliik fighters.


Mara ambushes Jacen outside the turbolift. He notices she was able to hide herself in the Force from him, assuming he has Ben to thank for that. She wants to talk to him. He’d rather put it off for a few days but she’s insistent.


She tells him the Sith stuff ends now. She can’t be fooled by him the way his parents desperately want to be. If there is any part of Jacen Solo left, he should come to the Temple and let them reprogram him.


The truth is out. His eyes change, not from brown to yellow, but he looks like a stranger, nevertheless. Palpatine had once had kind eyes, too, that changed. Jacen walks away. Mara knows this is her fault, pressuring her husband because she didn’t want to have to deal with being the mother of a teenage boy.


Lumiya is getting tired of Jacen playing with his new Galactic Alliance toy. The Force is demanding change. He comes in, explaining he had a disagreement about Ben with Mara. He needs time to think and wants her to watch Niathal while he’s gone.


He’s done this before and she knows some of that dark energy will be diminished when he comes back. She’s tolerated it before, but this stage is important. Lumiya looks around his apartment after he leaves, noting the sparse contents and lack of family holos.


Then she goes to the ship. She may not be able to find Jacen when he’s hiding in the Force, but the ship can.


Boba Fett has a nightmare that his father is calling out to him, asking why he was left on Geonosis. He wakes up, alive. At least, Jaing didn’t poison him. Now that he doesn’t have to ponder his own death, he can think about others. Ailyn may have wanted to kill him, may have been a stranger to him, but she was still his little girl.


His job is killing, not his passion, but Jacen Solo’s death would make him feel very good. It’s better that the man rot than die anyway. It did motivate Fett to survive, though. The vet tells him that the cell degeneration has stopped, but he shouldn’t breed.


He should live another 30 years if all goes well. It’s time to talk to Mirta about why her mother hated him so much.

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chapter 17:


Jaing Skirata wonders that Taun We never held it against Fett for attacking Kamino.


Ben takes refuge at Captain Shevu’s apartment, hiding from the Force. Shevu asks if he’s afraid of his father. Ben admits his father is a nice man, but he’s like most parents in that Ben always gets the idea that he knows everything that Ben has done wrong just by looking at him.


Shevu thinks Luke would be angrier at the person behind it. Ben admits that his father is already angry with Jacen. He asks if Shevu wants to stay in GAG. The captain misses catching real criminals in the CSF.


Ben dreams about Lekauf a couple of times, then lays awake wondering about the man’s parents. He feels a voice in his head, calling for him. It’s the ship. Ben heads to the GAG compound to sign out a speeder. It’s not until he gets there that he remembers he forgot his mom’s vibroblade.


When Mara gets back, Luke is asleep. She gets her working clothes and crams as much gear in her pack as she can. The transponder shows Ben is still at Shevu’s so she doesn’t have to worry about that.


Lumiya’s transponder shows she’s headed for just off Coruscant. She risks kissing Luke on the forehead before she goes.


Lumiya tries to explain recent history to the ship. Jacen Solo will bring the Sith into ascendancy again. Alama Rar is broken and shouldn’t have been trusted to tail Jacen. Mara Jade Skywalker was an agent like Lumiya. The boy is her son.


The ship knows that the broken one is still searching. Lumiya tells it to stop her because she can’t interfere at this point. Jacen’s ship leaves hyperspace in the Hapes Cluster. She wonders if he’s enlisting the help of the Queen Mother. If so, he should learn to delegate. That’s something Vader could do.


The intense emotions coming through the ship from Jacen stuns her. The ship tells her that Jacen has loves there. She can’t believe he’s so stupid. A grown man doesn’t have to sneak around for a little romance.


Lumiya then remembers where he is. She also remembers that he and the Queen Mother had been close friends for years. But two loves means that there’s another. When she realizes he is the father of Tenel Ka’s child, she weeps. Now she knows why he looked so tormented when she spoke of sacrifice. He will need her after this.

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chapter 18:


The Roche government gives Murkhana 24 hours to cease production of systems that are in breach of patent.


Mara drops out in the Hapes Cluster, wondering if Lumiya is trying to cause more trouble within the Alliance. Of course, the Hapans are going to wonder what Mara is doing here, too. No one seems to be troubled by their presence here.


Mara suspects Lumiya is following Jacen. She wonders if she should comm. Tenel Ka and ask if she called for him. Finally, she decides to contact Hapan Fleet Ops and ask if they can confirm Chief of State Solo is unharmed. They confirm that he has landed without incident. She realizes he’s visiting Tenel Ka, probably making a bunch of excuses as to why he deposed Omas.


Mara tells the Hapans that Jacen has a ship following him and she doesn’t think he’s taking concerns for his safety seriously. She’d appreciate them not letting him shake her off. They agree and ask if they should detain or neutralize the ship following him.


It’s their space. She tells them to feel free to neutralize.


She checks her datapad to confirm that Ben’s transponder is still on Coruscant.


Ben can’t believe that he and his mother are both trailing Lumiya. He’s likely to be sent to Ossus for this. But he can sense that she’s found Lumiya first. He’d love to empty the cannon just to destroy Lumiya though he would be sorry to see the ship go.


He gets as close as he dares so he can go for the kill.


Jacen hugs Allana good-bye. She’s going to call the stuffed tauntaun he brought her “Jacen” so she can talk to it when he doesn’t come to see them. It nearly breaks his heart. He knows Tenel Ka isn’t happy about Omas. She warns him how different it is to hold the reins of government after only being a deputy.


She tells him to make sure he and Niathal have different ambitions. It’s safer that way.


Now that his visit is over, his confrontation with Mara and his decision about Ben weighs on him. He can’t stand not knowing the where, when or how of this sacrifice. How they will react when their son is dead frightens him more. The Hapans are less dangerous than his aunt and uncle. Allana is his weak point.


But nobody knows about her. He heads out toward his jump point and senses something wrong. It’s a StealthX. He wonders if Lumiya has followed him. The stars wink out. He calls for her. If she’s here, she knows about Tenel Ka. That means she has to die.


Then his ship gets hit. He tells Lumiya that the game is over. Mara answers that it certainly is.

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  • Does Jacen truly believe that his aunt or uncle would harm a little 4-year old girl? Really? Is this like Anakin deciding that the Jedi were going to kill all the senators?

  • And he didn’t consider that anyone other than Lumiya was following him? That was a StealthX, wasn’t it? Don’t Jedi fly those and wasn’t Lumiya flying the Meditation Sphere?



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chapter 19:


Luke Skywalker is told when Mara logged out and didn’t file a flight plan.


Jacen can’t fire because he’s so close to Mara that his shot would take both of them out together. If Mara’s here, then she knows about Tenel Ka, too.


Lumiya comes over the line and tells him that she has Mara. That’s a bit of a relief, but that still means Lumiya knows the truth, too. He can’t let either of them live at this point. For all he knows, Mara has told Luke already. She dips in and out of the Force in a way that makes him sorry he ever taught Ben that trick.


Jacen has to get Mara down on his territory. He tells Lumiya to crack the StealthX’s canopy. When Mara is hit, she flies down to Kavan. Lumiya tells him that she knows what he must keep a secret and she will make sure it stays that way. Jacen assures her it will and locks all eight torpedoes on the Sith ship.


There is no explosion.


Not knowing where she is, he decides to track her down later and eliminate Mara first.


Ben can’t feel his mother, but knows she’s not dead, just hiding in the Force. Lumiya is in the Sith ship, breaking off to his side and he doesn’t want to break off now.


The ship won’t stop talking to Lumiya. The boy keeps trying to cause damage. She tells it that the boy has to survive, she doesn’t. Ben tries to tell the ship what to do. He explains his mother is down there and didn’t fire on him.


The ship slows down and asks him who the enemy is. Ben asks what it’s task is. Ship tells him that it educates and protects apprentices. It knows Ben is an apprentice. It thinks Lumiya is one, too, because she knows so little of it.


It’s supposed to teach apprentices to fight.


Ben understands that’s what attacked his mother on Hesperidium. He will not be able to talk Ship into killing Lumiya. But it won’t attack him for her either. He may not be in danger, but his mother is.


Mara sets the ship down on Kavan. She knows she will go through a bad time after this is done. Luke keeps reaching out to her, but she can’t reach back. Jacen might be able to detect it.


Heading for the first tunnel she sees, she turns on the Force to lure Jacen in.

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chapter 20:


Sass Sikili tells Boba Fett that Murkhana hasn’t responded. This causes them to worry that others will ignore their patents, too. He requests Mandalore’s assistance.


Luke meets Jaina on the steps of the Jedi Temple and asks where Mara went. She swears she doesn’t know where Mara’s gone. Luke tells her that Mara signed out a StealthX and Ben is gone, too. He thinks she’s walking into a trap.


Luke can’t feel either of them in the Force. Jacen is allegedly away on business. Jaina can’t feel her either. Looking at a holomap, Luke believes she’s in the Hapes Cluster, but her StealthX will be nearly impossible to find.


Suddenly, Maa pops back in as if magnifying her presence to be found. Jaina doesn’t know why she keeps doing that. It’s like she’s taunting Lumiya. This feels like a fight is brewing.


Luke warns Tenel Ka he’s coming, jumps into a StealthX and vows to take his wife someplace peaceful when they come back.


Jacen had expected to deal with an angry Mara after he killed Ben, not before. He will go to her. Ben is having a showdown with Lumiya. It fits. He will get rid of her for Jacen, then Jacen will deal with Ben. Luke will come later.


He loads poison darts into a blaster and walks to the tunnel mouth. He calls her out. Her response is to fly out, kicking his leg in the joint and ripping the tendons. He loses his fotting, screams and grabs for support. Lashing out with his lightsaber, he misses her.


He has to force himself to run after her, knowing she wants him pinned there. He vows to bury her in these tunnels.


At the end of a culvert, Mara sets up a noisemaker and waits for him. She can hear him breathing and the sound of his lightsaber. She’d vowed to leave here over his dead body. Mara cannot even think of Leia, knowing it will weaken her.


When he trips her alarm, she brings down the tunnel with the Force. She waits and listens before stepping out to see an arm from the rubble. She levels her blaster at Jacen’s bloody head, feeling detached as she’d ever been as the Emperor’s Hand. Jacen whispers to tell his mother he’s sorry he failed her.


Mara tells him she knows and pulls the trigger.

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chapter 21


The Mandalorian phrase for the departed is translated Not Gone, Merely Marching Far Away.


Jacen, not ready to die, deflects the bolt with one last surge of the Force and sends the rubble off his body, knocking Mara flat. He can’t let her seize the advantage again. Jacen knows that her death is the pivotal act, but he’s hurt badly.


He doesn’t know where Ben fits into this and doesn’t care right now. He ignites his lightsaber. She comes at him with the shoto and vibroblade, cutting his cheekbone and chin. She shouldn’t have been able to touch him at all.


He fires his dart gun again and again, but she scatters all four of them. Throwing debris at him, she leaps on his back and knocks him down. This is a brawl. He losing blood. Mara tells him she’ll see him dead before she lets him get Ben.


Jacen pushes her back, trying to pin her against the wall, but she nearly grabs the lightsaber from his hand. He tells her that she can’t beat him. It’s not meant to be. She thinks it is.


She launches at him only to be pushed against a pillar. He jumps backward and his legs give out from under him. Jacen falls badly, his weapon flying. Mara rights herself and comes back at him, plunging his lightsaber into his collarbone. He finds that lightsaber burns hurt more than he ever imagined.


He screams, pulls his weapon back. She crashes into him, knocking him and pinning him down. He grabs her hair, dragging her near his saber. She lets him come away with a handful of red hair, before bringing her shoto and vibroblade down on his chest.


He creates the illusion of Ben’s face beneath her. She hesitates and it’s enough for him to ram a poison dart into her leg.


She falls to the floor. The weapons fall from her hand. He tells her he’s sorry. He thought it was Ben, but it was her. Mara tries to get up, but sinks back, crumpling against the wall. It wasn’t Ben, Allana or Tenel Ka. It’s finally over.


He has to bring order to the galaxy, saving millions of lives. It’s not about ambition, it’s about peace.


Mara fixes him with a glare and tells him that Luke will crush him. She won’t let Jacen destroy her son’s future. Ben’s name is her last word.


Lumiya feels the Force shift. She tells the Ship that the new Dark Lord needs her now.


On Kavan, Ben stops hearing Ship’s voice over the sound of his name echoing. He forgets about Lumiya, stumbles toward the voice calling his name and cries for his mother.


In his StealthX, Luke feels a hand touch his hair and realizes his world is gone

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chapter 22:



Goran Beviin tells Boba Fett that a lot of secure GA traffic is flying around Hapes. Something big is going on.


Jacen didn’t know where else to go, so he’s on Ziost. He was supposed to be back on Coruscant hours ago. Niathal is probably cursing his name by now. He’s alone, in agonizing pain and angry.


Killing isn’t any easier. He just gets better at it.


Jacen doesn’t understand it. He didn’t consider Mara his most precious possession. She’d been the last of his friends, but that had changed recently, too. She was his family and he will have to face her son.


But it doesn’t make sense. Lumiya appears and tells him his new existence has started. He assures her he doesn’t feel very lordly. Lumiya tells him to stop arging with the Force and pay attention. Luke Skywalker is already on Hapes and Niathal is throwing a fit. He needs to smooth out his trip to the Hapan Court. Mara knew about it and commed Hapan Fleet Ops which is how Lumiya was able to come to his assistance. Eventually, it will come out that Jacen was there.


She also described the Sith sphere. There are no secrets in this galaxy. The Mandos, the Bothans and the Alliance Intel will have it soon and Jacen doesn’t have a lot of friends left. Jacen expects to claim he was visiting Tenel Ka as Chief of State. He’s working on a healing trance now. Mara’s body was left where it was, not dissipating.


Lumiya is rather surprised that she didn’t become one with the Force. Jacen isn’t worried about that. They can trace the poison back to him. It will happen eventually. By then it will be too late. The ship can’t be traced to him. Ben didn’t see him on Kavan and Lumiya is the prime suspect for Mara’s death, not Jacen.


She has to make Luke believe this was her doing. Her work and her life are done. It’s time to give him the time he needs to consolidate his hold on the galaxy. She warns him that Alema is still lurking around, probably coveting Ship.


He meditates for an hour while his body heals, then sets off for Coruscant via Hapes.


Tenel Ka has to call Luke several times to get him to respond. He’s numb, not having said good-bye to Mara or even remembering the last words he said to her. Her note to him has been flatted out, “Gone hunting for a few days. Don’t be mad at me, farmboy”.


Tenel Ka tells him that Jaina is here. His niece comes to sit with him, having felt it through the Force. She can’t feel Ben, but they both know he’s not dead. Leia had to have sensed it, too, so he’s waiting for her to call.


Tenel Ka tells them that Jacen was here yesterday, but it gone now. Jaina asks if his vessel’s movements were logged. She promises to look into it. Luke knows Jacen had to have felt his aunt’s death, too, and he’d probably been here while she was chasing Lumiya.


Jaina is incensed, reminding Luke that Jacen is a stranger. She has to say it rather than bottle it up.


Leia comms, expressing her sorrow. Han takes the comlink and tells Luke not to do a thing. They’ll handle everything. They’re coming.


Jaina remembers Mara kidding her about Zekk and Jag, as if she were a silly teenager. She’s done with all of this now. She’s the Sword of the Jedi and will do what she must to make Lumiya pay. The captain of the guard comes in and hands her a datapad. She tells Luke that Mara arrived after Jacen and asked Ops to keep an eye out for the strange ship as it might be a threat to him.


Luke tells her to leave this to him. Mara was his wife and it’s something he needs to do.


As the Mandos come back, it’s a resurgence for the planet. Medrit wants to celebrate, but Fett has a few loose ends. One of them is Jacen Solo. Those Jedi and their schisms. It always comes down to them.


Rumors abound that Mara Jade Skywalker is missing and presumed dead. No one knows for sure. After all, the Jedi sometimes vanish when they die; sometimes they don’t. But they all sense it through the Force.


In fact, there are other rumors that their son is missing, too. Not very good parents, these Jedi. Fett wouldn’t trade places with any of the Skywalkers or Solos who don’t seem to be able to maintain happiness for long. He’s not a particularly sympathetic person, but even he can understand loss.


He’s not surprised to hear Jacen Solo’s name in connection with all this, but Lumiya’s a name he’s not heard in a long time. He sniffs that all of this worked much better when Vader was in charge. Mirta just wants to slit Solo’s throat.


Fett is practiced in the same cold detachment the Jedi have. He’ll teach Mirta patience over anger. For now, he wants to send Han Solo a gift of beskar crushgaunts so he can do his son in before someone else does. He wants the card signed, “With Deepest Sympathy” and ponders how bad it must be to have such a disappointing son.


Luke leaves Corran Horn in charge while he’s in the Hapes Cluster. Today is not a day he feels he can trust himself. But he does feel clarity for the first time in a long time. Corran assures him that everyone is willing to help him.


Luke tells him that there’s only one person he needs to be in touch with and she’s coming. He can feel Lumiya quite strongly now. Corran tells him that it’s certainly a trap. Any of the Jedi would do this for Luke. Luke knows this; but that’s why it has to be him.


He doesn’t know how many times she’s has passed by him unnoticed and about how he had been unable to see anything bad in her after their last fight. He’d been so betrayed and it cost him so much. Mara always said he went out of his way to find the best in people.


When he finds her, she admits that some day he will understand why she had to make sure Mara died. Luke considers making one kill shot, but she’s survived that before and now he must make sure she’s done for good.


When their ships land, they face each other. Lumiya urges him to finish the job. He’s familiar enough with the lightwhip now to know how to handle it. He wonders that she hates him so much, but she confesses he doesn’t hate her at all. She’s just fulfilling the promise she made long ago to the Emperor.


When they finally reach the edge of a mesa, she starts to fall. He grabs her, pulls up her up and assures her he’ll never let her fall. Then cuts off her head in an eerie calm.


For a long time, Ben sits with his mother hoping that she is in a healing trance. He’d run to her and found her, wanting to think she’s not dead because her body is still here. He can’t even clean her face because he knows he could be removing evidence.


When Jacen arrives, he just stares at Mara’s body for a moment, then reaches out to Ben and promises that he will find the person who did this. Ben had shut himself off from the Force. Jacen had found him anyway. Perhaps his mother’s death had left a mark in the Force, but it’s something to consider. Right now, he just wants to be with his father.

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chapter 23


Venku approaches Fett and Mirta and gestures to an old man, telling them the fellow will do it. Fett watches him hold the stone and surmises the man is a Kiffar. The man doesn’t admit it outright; his only price is giving Fett peace of mind.


He can tell she was unhappy and would find trusting another man difficult. Fett expects this is a con. The guy probably tells that to everyone. It is true that Sintas didn’t trust anyone. Most Mandalorians don’t.


Before he tires of this elaborate charade, the old man reveals that Sintas thought Fett still cared when he recovered the hologram for her. He even knows what she told Fett when he brought it back to her. Then he reveals that Fett told her he would make Lenovar pay for what he did to her and she tried to talk him out of it.


Fett stops him there. Mirta asks about her final hours. The old man pulls off his helmet to reveal that he has no facial tattoo. The stone gives him random images. He sees a chart of Phaeda, red skies and someone following named Resada or Rezoda. Whatever happened to her happened on Phaeda and she fought to keep the stone.


That’s all he can find.


After he leaves, the café owner mentions he thinks the guy’s name is Gotab. He used to think he was Kad’ika’s father, but knows better now.


Fett asks Mirta if Ailyn was ever happy. She doesn’t think so. She asks him if he was ever happy. He admits he was happy as a child, but lost that on Geonosis and never got it back. Mirta offers him a drink and tells him she wants to dig around about Phaeda.


On the GA warship, Ocean, Niathal offers her condolences to Jacen for his loss. He can’t tell if she sincerely means it or not. His life is going as normal. He has no more resource for Sith philosophy now the Lumiya has extinguished her life at his uncle’s hand. He does note that Corellia seems quiet these days.


Niathal suggests they have been waiting for his return, seeming a lot more comfortable with her new role. She mentions the triumvirate is running affairs daily, but she’s got people looking into who will replace the late Prime Minister.


Murkhana is full of tension right now; the deadline has passed. The GA has X-wings standing by, but this could just be Mandalorian psychological warfare. If the Mandalorians do back the Verpines, though, it would give them a chance to see the new fighter.


Jacen looks over a live chart of the Corellian theater. He realizes he can see what the strategy is. He can’t believe he ever thought he could command before now. Lumiya was right. The sacrifice he made has given him a power that can only come to a Sith Master. He doesn’t understand the prophecy, but his work can finally begin.


Luke finds Mara’s body in the infirmary and assures Cilghal he doesn’t need to be alone with her. Cilghal thinks he does and will be ready when he is. He is grateful that he can hold her one last time. He wasn’t sure he would.


They’d talked about whether they would dissipate when they died. He wondered if she might choose to do that. He’s glad she didn’t. But there’s really nothing to investigate as Lumiya is dead.


When Ben arrives, he explains to his father that he can’t help but think she’s trying to tell them something. Luke assures his son that he got Lumiya.


Ben tells him that it wasn’t her. She was in the Sith Sphere when he felt his mother die. Mara has stayed because they need to find evidence. Even so, the galaxy is better off without Lumiya.


Luke is overcome with the knowledge that he killed the wrong person. Ben tells him it’s not worth grieving over, considering the number of deaths for which she is responsible. Alone in his quarters, he rages in grief over how Lumiya intruded on even this sad moment. She has fooled him again and it has broken something inside of him.

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chapter 24:


Boba Fett prepares to lead his first strike force since the Vong war. As the prototype fighters leave the hangar, people take recordings and show the ships to their kids. This is just a simple bombing mission, but his dad would have loved it.


As he’s about to leave, Mirta calls for him to wait. He worries she’s going to do something embarrassingly emotional. It takes some doing to get her to arrive at the point. She tells him that she did some searching about Phaeda and found a gangster named Rezodar who died about 38 years ago. His estate is unclaimed and the government of Phaeda would very much like it to be resolved. She shows Fett a datapad cataloguing Rezodar’s belongings. Among them is a carbonite block in which Sintas is encased. He tells her that he will pay whatever the asking price is for it, then goes off to do his job.


On board the Anakin Solo, Jacen recognizes that the prophecy, “He will immortalize his love” has many meanings. Nothing dramatic has happened now to turn him into a Sith Lord, it was a gradual process that began when Vergere tortured him.


He hadn’t killed a person to achieve this, he’d killed an idea. He’d killed the love that Ben had held for him. It had been something that mattered. Ben will never give up hunting his mother’s killer. He could see Ben sitting there besides his mother. Sooner or later, his cousin would figure out why his mother didn’t vanish into the Force.


Jacen picks up a GAG helmet, nothing special. He knows he doesn’t need it. He shouldn’t feel embarrassment or guilt for anything he’s done. He has nothing left but Tenel Ka and Allana. They will hate him, too, someday when they know what he’s done. He’s hit rock bottom now, so the only place to go is up.


Besides, most murders are committed by relatives and friends; he’s not that unusual.


People accuse him of trying to be like his grandfather. That doesn’t bother him. He’s proud of his grandfather, despite the man’s weaknesses. He has to move beyond petty conscience now if he is to usher in a new era.


Looking at himself, he decides on a new name: Darth Caedus

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End of Book 5




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