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Prologue:


Jacen flow-walks Tahiri into a battle. She worries that they may alter the present by accidentally changing the past. Jacen assures her that he won’t let her do anything wrong. What he doesn’t tell her is that it’s impossible for them to change the past without the Force correcting it. He needs her to believe they are risking something catastrophic in order to deal with her grief.


The cloning lab had been their mission on that terrible day in the middle of the Vong war. She touches her lightsaber and Jacen knows she wants to do more than give Anakin that last kiss. She wants to jump in and save his life.


They can’t be harmed here, something that becomes evident soon. Jacen had told her this, but then, as she points out, he’d also told her that running in to her on the anniversary of Anakin’s death had been a coincidence. She’s s smart girl. She finds his offer tempting and wants to know what he wants from her.


She doesn’t believe he’s helping her move on and protests when he mentions that his brother deserves this, too. She’s still going through with it. He warns her to be careful about reacting to the past. The more she becomes a part of it, the more likely she will be seen.


Watching Anakin, Jacen wonders why he’d ever thought it was noble for Anakin to sacrifice himself like that. It’s looking back on his own youthful naivete. But even Jacen is nearly caught up in the moment when he sees the young Anakin close to death. He had loved his brother. But, as he warned Tahiri, they cannot react to the past, lest they become more visible. If that happens, harm could come to them. And, if members of the strike team catch sight of them, they may remember that Jacen flow-walked with Tahiri and it will undo everything he’s trying to do.


She is only able to push the young Tahiri into Anakin’s arms to have that final kiss. Jacen pulls her away before Tekli arrives in the past. He explains to Tahiri that they were both getting caught up in the moment. It was dangerous for them to stay. Tahiri admits she thought it would be enough to give Anakin the kiss he’d wanted, but it isn’t. If he had to die, she wished she’d known how much she loved him.


Jacen accepts that manipulating family and friends is required to keep on top of the investigation into Mara’s death. He smiles behind his helmet and tells her that he’s sure Anakin did know. After all, Tahiri certainly told him, didn’t she?

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chapter 1:


On Coruscant, Tenel Ka can sense the hole in the Force. She tells Aros to lock down the nursery just to be on the safe side. After Aros leaves, Jacen steps out, commenting that his camouflage techniques must be waning. Tenel Ka quips that she’s just gotten better at sensing his presence.


They kiss, but not as passionately as normal. She knows that she shouldn’t be so happy seeing that Mara’s funeral is tomorrow. It’s natural they should be focusing on her. He seems defensive when she asks if they’ve found Mara’s killer. He insists they’re working on it, but their leads are going nowhere. She apologizes for asking about it. Jacen admits he’s been distracted by the war and hasn’t had much time to devote to the investigation.


She knows that Admiral Niathal is pushing for Hapan reinforcements. She’s surprised that Jacen appears to be siding with her. She has only enough ships to secure her own position in the Consortium. Jacen should know that.


He reminds her of the holo briefings she’s been receiving. Corellia and Bothawui are positioning themselves against Kuat, while the Hutts and Commenor are going to attack Balmorra. Once the battle at Balmorra is over, the Confederation will converge on Kuat. Whoever wins there, wins the war.


Tenel Ka reminds him that every military strategist thinks the next big battle will end a war. Jacen tells her he’s seen this in the Force. If the Confederation wins at Kuat, they will be able to strike Coruscant and the Alliance isn’t strong enough to stop them. The Wookiees are likely to stick with the Alliance and their assault fleet will be enough.


Tenel Ka isn’t sure the Confederation will wait long enough for that to happen. The Wookiees could very well drag this out until the Confederation is on Coruscant’s doorstep. Jacen hopes she’s wrong.


She wonders if the Jedi could do something to contribute. Jacen assures her the Jedi are close to being traitors. She points out that the Jedi have been among the strongest supporters of the Alliance. Jacen and Luke need to resolve their differences. The Masters may not like Jacen’s taking over of the government, but they won’t allow the Alliance to collapse. If he offers concessions, they can work out something. Jacen admits that he really can’t stop the enemy without the Jedi, but he’d prefer to do so.


Luke really hasn’t been himself lately; he won’t talk to anyone. It’s more than grief over the loss of his wife. He killed Lumiya out of vengeance and then found out she hadn’t killed Mara at all. He’s begun doubting himself and the Force.


Tenel Ka can sense that Jacen isn’t really as distraught about this as he wants to project. Master Luke hadn’t been kind in his recent accusations. It’s understandable that Jacen will feel a sense of smugness about his uncle being brought down a notch. Master Sebatyne wouldn’t even let her see Luke when she called. This is not a good time for the Alliance to be without the Jedi. Surely he could reach out to the Jedi Council. Jacen claims he’s spoken to individual masters to no avail. They are all against him.


She offers to speak to the Council herself. Jacen argues that they will only think she is his pawn and she’s paying him back for saving her throne. As for Hapes, she will try to force a peace before any invasion occurs, though that’s unlikely to happen. Jacen tries to convince her to take Allana and go into hiding.


She reminds him that only a Hapan can sit on the throne and that whoever the Confederation installs as a puppet will not rest while she and Allana are still alive. Jacen implores her to give him the Home Fleet. The Alliance only needs it until the Wookiees commit and that shouldn’t be long enough for the Hapan nobles to formulate a plot against her.


Tenel Ka will not put her subjects through a civil war. Her people come first, not her family. She is beginning to think that Jacen planned this conversation ahead of time and, as they continue to debate, she realizes how much of it actually was. But he is right. If the Confederation wins the war, they will divide up the Consortium. She has to give him the fleet.


On one condition.


He must make peace with his uncle. He needs the cooperation of the Jedi. Jacen isn’t convinced it’s possible to work with Luke. She suggests he start being calling his uncle Master Skywalker.

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  • I recognize that Luke’s Jedi don’t have the same hang-ups about attachments that the Old Republic Jedi did, but they are aware of how attachments affect judgment. Let’s look at this scene. Tenel Ka believes that it is natural for Jacen to gloat when his Uncle Luke spent so much time denouncing Jacen’s actions only to act unJedilike himself. It’s natural for a regular person to gloat, I’m sure. Is it natural for a Jedi to gloat? I’m not sure that Luke ever taught his Jedi, much less his own nephew, that it’s acceptable for a Jedi to take smug pleasure at the distress of someone else. Why would Tenel Ka think that it’s okay? And why does she not trust the Jedi Council to accurately assess whether she is being objective about Jacen? Is it because she secretly realizes she’s not objective? She realizes that she is being manipulated and that Jacen prepared this conversation in advance, yet she continues to trust his assessment of the situation.


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chapter 2


Dignitaries gather in the Jedi Temple for Mara Jade Skywalker’s funeral. Leia can’t help but mourn how Mara had died in anger and worry over her loved ones. Han doesn’t like that Mara did not return to the Force. Leia points out that not everyone does. After all, Tresina Lobi didn’t.


Han argues that it’s because she wanted her body to provide evidence against Lumiya. He thinks Mara is trying to tell them something. Leia isn’t sure it works that way. She feels they should have been here for Luke when it happened. She should have been able to comfort him immediately. Han reminds her that there was nothing they could have done to prevent it, especially if they’d been arrested upon arrival and detained in some secret GAG detention cell.


She knows this, but it doesn’t change her feelings of guilt. Being reminded that there was an arrest warrant out for them leads her to the dark place of wondering why she had missed her son changing the way he did.


Unfortunately, the GAG doesn’t even respect the Jedi Temple during a time of mourning. A security detail of GAG arrives to take her and Han into custody. They are forced to run, fighting their way out. Leia regrets every act of violence she is forced to take within the Temple, especially on the day of Mara’s funeral, but Han reminds her that all of this is Jacen’s fault. They cannot fight their way into the funeral. It would gain them nothing and disrupt an already difficult day. But they’re going to have to do something about their son.

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chapter 3:


With only ten years among humans, there are still some things Saba doesn’t understand. She doesn’t understand why Mara Jade Skywalker’s body is still here. She doesn’t understand what is broken inside Master Skywalker. But she knows something terrible will happen if he cannot get himself back.


Just as she knows this funeral needs to get going and hasn’t. Noting a cluster of Masters nearby, she approaches them to find out that she will need to start the ceremony. A GAG squadron has tried to arrest the Solos within the Temple. Saba is outraged and prepares to inform Master Skywalker.


Corran thinks Luke has enough on his mind right now. Saba doesn’t think he has enough. Mara would not want him withdrawing like this. Kenth Hamner reminds her that humans must grieve. She doesn’t understand why humans must wallow in sorrow as if their loved ones are gone for good. And they must punish Jacen for this intrusion.


They are in agreement, but, for now, Saba is going to have to replace Leia and give the eulogy. She isn’t sure what to say, but the threat of Kyp Durron doing it instead is enough. She approaches the podium and begins speaking from the heart in a way that makes Luke appear grateful for her presence.


Which is interrupted by Jacen’s conspicuous late arrival. He approaches the other Jedi, thanks Tenel Ka for coming and goes to stand by Luke’s side. Kenth Hamner reminds him that he is not a Master, just a Jedi Knight and is welcome to stand with the others. Jacen explains he’s not here as a Jedi, showing him an empty lightsaber belt, but as a family member here to comfort his loved ones. Kyp thinks this is publicity stunt and, of course, he is correct. Jacen can’t pass up the opportunity to appear to be in fellowship with the Jedi Order, as well as convince Tenel Ka that he is making a good faith effort to reconcile with his uncle.


Luke intervenes, allowing Jacen to stand with him and Ben. After all, healing their relationship must be what Mara is trying to tell them. Jacen thinks he’s gone mad. Mara couldn’t possibly be telling them anything. Then her body begins to glow with the Force and Jacen realizes that Mara may very well be trying to tell them something, but not what Luke thinks.


He is relieved and struggles to hide it in the Force. Clearly, Mara hadn’t told him about her mission and what it entailed. Luke has drawn the wrong conclusions and Jacen is perfectly fine with reinforcing them. He and Luke agree they should work together from now on.


Saba stares from her podium as if she were looking right into Jacen’s soul, then continues her eulogy. She points out how good it is that Jacen could take time to honor his aunt, a woman who had begun her life in darkness, taken from her family and trained to be a spy and an assassin, truly believing that she was doing right when she did Palpatine’s bidding. When she began to understand how evil her master was, she rationalized how it was sometimes necessary for peace. But she rejected those who, after Palpatine’s death, tried to continue his vision and forged a new life for herself with one who was once her enemy. She had once told Saba that all it took to life the Emperor’s veil from her eyes was one long walk in the forest with Luke Skywalker.


As Mara’s body dissipates, Luke reminds Ben that she is one with the Force and will always be with them. Saba concludes by telling everyone that the lesson of Mara’s life was that opening one’s heart is the best way to live in goodness and that stepping into the light is all it takes to bring justice and peace.


After the ceremony, Saba and Jacen exchange a few civil, but tense, words. Luke apologetically explains that this day is not a good one for most of them. He is sincere, however, about them learning to work together. Ben seems uncommitted. This surprises Jacen. He’d expected he would lose his cousin’s love, but only after Ben had learned who killed his mother. Either Ben is taking Mara’s death very hard or he already knows Jacen killed her and hasn’t told anyone.


He hopes it isn’t necessary to kill Ben. He still has the potential to make a good Sith apprentice.


Luke watches Jacen leave, feeling a darkness deeper than he’s felt since the days of Vader and the Emperor. He’s not sure Jacen can be brought back into the light. He owes it to the Alliance, Leia and to himself, especially for the mistake he’d made with Lumiya.


Mara would want him to be strong, even though he doesn’t feel it.


He confronts Saba outside about antagonizing Jacen. They won’t bring him back if they are going to be hostile. Saba doubts he can be brought back. Kyp tells Luke that Jacen only came to the funeral to make himself look important. Luke knows that, but it’s an opening. It’s better for all involved if they try to work with Jacen. Ben tells him it won’t. If his mother even wanted to leave a message, he doesn’t think it was to trust Jacen.


Ben denies withholding any information from his father, but Luke can tell the masters know something they’re not telling. Kenth Hamner relates how a GAG security team tried to arrest Han and Leia inside the Temple an hour ago.


Luke realizes that he’s made the Order vulnerable. The Solos are nowhere to be found, but he’s more concerned about the security team. It appears that they are not chasing the Solos anymore, but escorting Jacen. There’s a possibility the arrest attempt was a diversion to take over the Temple. It doesn’t appear Jacen has decided to go that route now, but they’d better figure out his game plan soon.


Ben wonders if they’re going to let him get away with this intrusion. Luke thinks they will this time. He and Jacen will have to start working together and, after all, someone has to take the first step. Ben thinks they’re walking into a trap. Luke tells him they can set traps, too. It’s time that Jacen started being surprised.

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chapter 4:

Jaina, Zekk and Jag continue the search for Alema Rar around the Jedi Academy on Ossus. The mission, of course, took precedence over attending Mara’s funeral. Zekk and Jag are getting on Jaina’s nerves. Though Zekk had assured her he was over her and Jag was so angry with her over the Killik incident that she was sure he wouldn’t look twice at her again, the partnering of both males together is causing the old rivalry to return.


They spot something slowly descending in the forest. Jaina reminds them that the ship Alema is flying may be able to hide from them.


The Duros Flight Commander, Orane, has them land and come see her. In the Flight Command room, Jaina finds several GAG guards and an officer named Major Serpa. They try firing stun bolts at her, but she and Jag are able to stun several of them before Orane intercedes.


It appears that Major Sherpa has been sent to safeguard the Jedi Academy against terrorist attacks. Since the only Jedi here are Kam Solusar, Tionne, a half-a-dozen new and inexperienced Jedi Knights and hundreds of students, Jaina realizes that this is really about holding the academy hostage. She sends a warning through the Force to Zekk to stay in hiding for now.


She explains that Alema Rar has been followed here from the Hapes Cluster and emphasizes the danger that she poses. Serpa wants their weapons and comlinks anyway. He intimates that, while they are free to leave, it is possible that two Masters and 6 young Jedi Knights may not be experienced enough to avoid conflict. Jaina understands too well that the students are in danger.


They turn over their weapons, but insist upon continuing the search for Alema.

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chapter 5:


Having the urge to hide, Alema Rar is still curious enough by the GAG protectors here to spy on their comm. transmissions. She is surprised to hear the term hostages being used here. Surely, Jacen realizes that this will only provoke Luke.


She considers that Lumiya must be the rason for this blunder. He’s obviously overreached himself which is why Lumiya let Alema be part of this. Alema links her datapad to the archives computer she’d been accessing regarding the ship she’d inherited.


Ship is an ancient meditation sphere that had once been used by Jedi and Sith. It was a Force-utlized vessel designed to augment a battle meditation while concealing the commander’s location from the enemy.


Leaving the academy library, she is confronted by two GAG guards at the lobby who are no match for her Mind Tricks. She leaves with Ship and tries to convince it to take her to Lumiya’s asteroid. Ship knows the truth, that Alema had volunteered to help Lumiya, but it’s not sentient and cannot resist her pressure.


She tells it that she was supposed to follow Mara so that the Jedi would think she killed her and not Jacen. This will help the Sith rise again. It takes her to the Kanz sector where Lumiya’s asteroid base is.


At the base, Alema deals with a number of booby traps to get to Lumiya’s secret chamber where she finds a datachip that may be what she’s looking for. The chip contains a message that indicates there are more Sith out there. She’d been taught at the Jedi Academy that there were only ever two Sith at one time. Lumiya had implied there were more and this message seems to support that.


She needs to be able to make Jacen Emperor and, to do that, she must dissuade him from making poor decisions, such as holding the Jedi Academy hostage. She’d thought she would find Sith artifacts here, but now she realizes that the Sith themselves can help her.

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chapter 6:


Jacen vows that the Confederation will pay for their victory at Balmorra. He can see, through the Force, the Hutt armada working with the Commenorian fleet.


His thoughts go back to Saba ’s lecture at the funeral. He wonders if she knows how Mara died. It’s possible that Luke isn’t really trying to reconcile with Jacen. Tahiri has told him the Masters are still investigating the death, but they could be misleading her deliberately.


That’s why he had secured the academy. When the masters come to rescue their students, he will know they are on to him and, even if they aren’t, their resources will be diverted long enough to give him time to win the war.


He is disturbed by Lt. Krova who has to fight to speak to him so she can give him news that Ben Skywalker wants him to know that he knows who killed his mother.


Ben doesn’t look swollen or red-eyed, he looks angry. He asks Jacen directly if he was the one who killed his mother. He knows Jacen was in the Hapes Consortium and points out that he’s holding the Jedi Academy hostage.


Jacen attempts to make excuses but Ben isn’t buying them. He tells Ben that the Joint Chiefs of State office has been hurt by the lack of support by the Jedi Council. With Ben’s father consumed by grief and the Jedi Council making poor decisions, Jacen is trying to consolidate power in his office. The masters may think twice about what they say in public if they know that he has the safety of the younglings in his hands.


Ben tells him that will only make people angry. Jacen lets slip part of Caedus’s name to get Ben to stop focusing on him as a suspect. It works. Ben demands to know the name of his mother’s killer, but Jacen wants to get proof first. Ben reminds him that the GAG has never required proof before.


Jacen plays an audio recording of Cal Omas plotting to use his friends on the Jedi Council to get Luke out of the way so he can be reinstated. Jacen tells Ben that Omas will have to pay whoever he was speaking to and those credits will lead them to his mother’s killer.


Ben insists he’s going to find out who the weapon was that was used against his mom. Jacen demands he stay out of his, but Ben points out that he’s the one who turned him into a killer.


Jacen comms Lt. Krova and tells her that Lt. Skywalker thinks there is going to be an assassination attempt on Chief Omas.

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  • Ah the secrets and lies. Why doesn’t Ben just confide his concerns to the Council or his father? You see what I mean about secrets pushing this story along? Ben calls Jacen, the man he thinks killed his mother, and gets manipulated again to go on a wild goose chase.



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chapter 7:


On Kashyyyk, Han and Leia are led on a hike by Waroo through the forest to Council Rock. When they get there, they find Jae Juun and Tarfang monitoring the situation for the GA. Juun admits they work directly for Admiral Niathal herself. He tells them that Tarfang thinks they’re traitors and should get off the planet quickly.


Han wants to speak to the Council himself about the support they may be sending to the GA, but Tarfang insists that the Wookiees not admit him because they would be guilty of treason. The Wookiees decide to ask Old Tojjelnoot what he thinks.


This isn’t good because the clan Tojjes had tried to kill Chewbacca many times after Tojjevvuk fought him to the death over Mallatobuck. Waroo assures them that Tejjelnoot will not decide this matter based on an old feud.


Tarfang tries to blast Han, but Leia uses the Force to pull it from his hand and spin the Ewok in the air. Juun pulls his own blaster on Leia. Han tries to bat it out of his hand, but the Wookiees intervene, pointing out that they are wanted by the GA and just assaulted its duly authorized officers.

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  • Jae Junn and Tarfang were introduced in the Dark Nest trilogy.


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chapter 8:


Darth Caedus has foreseen a future battle at Kuat and could flow walk to that one to see what he should do, but cannot go further ahead because the future is tangled with so many possibilities. Tenel Ka’s Home Fleet will join them there, but the Alliance can still not be guaranteed victory.


To do that, Jacen must exact a heavy price from the dissidents for Balmorra. He senses the tide here is about to turn in the Alliance ’s favor. The planet itself is lost, but he must make the rebels pay dearly for it.


When the Fourth Fleet starts to break off, though, Caedus has Lt. Krova comm. the Peacebringer so he can lecture Admiral Ratobo. the admiral points out that they cannot win this battle. Caedus isn’t concerned about that, but in winning the war.


Ratobo reminds him that the rebels have stolen technology and may have gotten more that the GA doesn’t know about. He would like to speak with Supreme Commander Niathal who is the one who had the military authority. Knowing that the man is speaking candidly not out of ego, but by what he feels is his duty, Caedus decides to show him why he’s here instead of Niathal.


He points out some Commenorian ships that are targeting the Peacebringer’s bridge. The ships don’t make it. Ratobo assumes that Colonel Solo has some basis for his belief through the Force. Caedus tells him that he has seen that, if they don’t make the Confederation fight for this world now, it will be the Alliance paying the price at Kuat. He tells Ratobo to press the attack.


Sending confidence through the Force, Caedus finds only confusion and fear because he himself doesn’t necessarily know what is going to happen. He decides to transfer the fleet flag to Trucemaker and put Darklighter in command.


Then he comms Darklighter who doesn’t respond immediately. Pressuring him through the Force, Caedus finds more irritation than intimidation coming from him. The Commenorians begin to retreat suddenly. This surprises him because he hadn’t expected it and because it puts the landing forces within sight of the GA’s turbolasers.


He congratulates Darklighter instead when the comm. is finally answered. It’s possible that the the Force had been telling him that Darklighter’s promotion would be what turned the tide here. However, rear Admiral Darklighter is an old friend of his parents. Likely, he, like other senior military officers, don’t approve of how the GA is being run now.


Caedus makes a note to add them all to the GAG watch list. It’s only a matter of time before his mother, or some other traitor, approaches them.


He is surprised when several Jedi presences appear in the Force. Jedi StealthXs are out there and attacking the Commenorian starfighters. They invite him to join their battle meld, so he must drop his own meditation. Still, there is no warmth there. Caedus has learned that the sacrifice of the Sith is not him stop loving, but others stop loving him. But he must do his duty.


Obviously, the Academy situation is working to his benefit now. He opens up to the Force, but only gets displeasure and no shadow bombs. He opens a comm. to Admiral Darklighter again when Luke’s voice is heard behind him.


Caedus jumps to his feet, lightsaber in hand. Luke asks if it’s that bad between them. Caedus realizes it wasn’t the Force urging him to press the attack, but Luke. He’s been tricked into pushing the Fourth Fleet into a dangerous attack. He wants to know what Luke wants in return.


Luke tells him nothing. The Jedi didn’t set him up, they only wanted him to know that they could have. To Caedus, this is just a weak bluff. If they were willing to lead him to destruction, they would have already. They would never attack him while the GAG controls the academy.


The Jedi ships are already making a difference. Gavin Darklighter is taking advantage by targeting the landing ships. Caedus orders him to worry about the capital ships first. Gavin tells him he doesn’t want the Balmorrans occupied by the Hutts. It’s easier to destroy the landing ships now rather than fight the troops on the ground.


Caedus thinks the Balmorrans will have to handle the occupation themselves. Luke realizes that Jacen planned this. Caedus tells him that he foresaw it and was taking advantage. Suddenly, Luke isn’t there anymore.

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chapter 9:


Ben knows that Cal Omas isn’t entirely innocent. He’d caused problems for the Jedi during the Dark Nest crisis, so it’s not impossible for Ben to believe that he could have ordered his mother’s killing.


The former Chief of State is under house arrest, guarded by a Tendrando Arms Guardian droid. Nothing goes right at first until he gets to Omas who is rather surprised, and disappointed, that it is Ben and not Jacen. He’d had the place booby-trapped in the hopes that it would be the latter.


However, Ben isn’t ready to kill him yet. He plays the recording rod of the conversation Jacen had allowed him to hear. Omas explains that he was only calling his daughter and had nothing to do with Ben’s mother’s death. Ben suspected this. He has a feeling that one of Omas’s guard was allowed to become friendly with him to lower his guard so he would accept a comlink to call home.


Omas admits that the guard seemed friendly enough, though he was still suspicious. However, he was desperate to speak with his daughter one last time. Some of the things he said were true, but not in that context. Ben knows this, as well. In fact, he thinks Jacen killed his mother. He wass in the Hapes Cluster at the time and his mother knew that he was working with Lumiya.


Ben doesn’t have proof yet, but he needs to make Jacen think he can trust him so that he can get evidence. To do that, he will have to fake Omas’s death. Omas doesn’t think it will work.


He charges at Ben with the guard’s discarded blaster. Ben evades it while Corsucant Security batters at the door. Omas plunges himself into Ben’s lightsaber. He explains there was no other way to be certain Jacen would be fooled. He asks Ben to forgive him, but for what is unknown as he dies within a few seconds.


Coruscant Security arrives. Ben tells them he was too late and to come with them before the whole place blows due to Omas’s booby-traps.

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chapter 10:


Luke knows he should be concentrating on the mission they will be launching at Kuat, the Jedi who would not be coming back, but cannot help but think of his son. He reaches out to Ben to reassure him that he still has one parent, but Ben is hiding from the Force again.


He and the Jedi pilots are in the ready room, waiting for the call to return to their StealthXs. The Confederation ships are drifting slowly, losing scouts, but advancing aggressively to get through the spacedocks.


The Jedi are watching the battle display, admiring Bwua’tu’s strategy. Once the Fourth Fleet has the enemy engaged, the Hapan Home Fleet will come up behind the Confederation, trapping them among the docks.


The Jedi will then fly into the middle of the Bothan fleet and drop shadow bombs on them before rendezvousing with the Megador, landing in Hangar 51 and rearming to go back through the Corellian fleet.


Kyp points out that, by doing this, they are handing the GA to Jacen. Luke reminds him that the war’s end will result in the resignation of both Jacen and Admiral Niathal. Kyp isn’t sure that Jacen can be trusted to keep any promises that are inconvenient to him. Luke realizes that all of the master agree with Kyp and have been reluctant to express this to Luke.


He tells them they are here for the Alliance, not Jacen. They’ll deal with him afterwards if he doesn’t resign. Kyp reiterates that it’s when Jacen doesn’t resign. They need to be sure they know what they’re dealing with here.


Luke tells them that he appreciates their trying to spare his feelings, but the Order doesn’t need that. They cannot arrest Jacen since he’s technically not violating any laws, they could do nothing and risk the lawlessness that would erupt if the GA doesn’t win and he would like to know where they draw the line. When do they decide Jacen has gone too far?


Saba suggests they draw the line where Master Skywalker says to draw it. He tells them they won’t let Jacen push them much further. Cilghal rushes in to tell them to turn on the HoloNet. Chief Omas has been killed and it looks like Ben was there.

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chapter 11:


The Corellians are carrying the fighting and Caedus wonders when Admiral Bwua’tu will bring out the Hapan Home Fleet to end this. He senses only a calm Bothan mind aboard the Welmo Darb.


There are no communications problems reported on the ship. He comms Tahiri who tells him Master Skywalker is on the way to see him. She asks when they can go back again. Caedus tells her it depends on how long it takes her to answer his questions.


They have flow-walked twice more now and he always pulls her back, leaving her desperate for more. He suggests next time she chose a location less emotionally charged. She tells him that Luke is upset about the assassination of Cal Omas.


Luke accuses Jacen of sending Ben to kill Omas. He denies it, of course, pretending he has no idea what has happened. Luke uses the Force, with no visible movement or exertion, to hold his nephew in a Force grasp. Caedus tells him that Ben overheard a conversation that made it appear that Omas had something to do with Mara’s death.


Luke believes Jacen let Ben hear that recording and aimed him like a missle. Caedus tells him that they cannot do this in the middle of a battle. Krova comes over the comm. to tell him that Bwua’tu is ready for the Hapans.


Luke pins him to his chair and tells him that the Jedi will not participate in this battle anymore. The Galactic Alliance died with Cal Omas. To prove his point, he uses the Force to lower Jacen’s chair until it hits the floor. Jacen reminds him that the Senate will not allow security of the Academy to be turned over to deserters.


Prince Isolder is ready for the attack. Luke decides he’d better return to his StealthX then as Jacen will do anything to win this war. That shouldn’t surprise him.


The security droid tells Caedus that the confrontation went well. It was expecting him to kill Skywalker, too, as he’d done the wife. Caedus is stunned. The security droid admits he talks in his sleep about many things, including making the sacrifices necessary to save his daughter. Caedus wonders if he should send the droid back to Tendrando Arms for reconditioning, but doesn’t think he can trust Lando.


The revelation that he talks in his sleep makes him worry about what Tenel Ka may have overheard. She seemed preoccupied the morning of the funeral. Could she be conferring with the Jedi Council?


Krova tells him that the Jedi are ready to launch. Caedus reaches out and finds the presences angry and growing weaker. Then the StealthXs launch, fly past the Hapan Fleet and into space. Bwua’tu asks where the Jedi are. Caedus asks if the battle can be won without them. Bwua’tu admits it’s possible, but trying it is unadvisable.


Caedus tells him the Jedi have betrayed them.

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chapter 12:


Waroo has let the Solos escape their cell on the condition they are back by the time he returns. They arrive at Council Rock to realize the debate is largely over. Han thinks they’ll just have to restart it.


This will involve him taking the tyrossum jaw from the current speaker without using any weapons so that he will get the floor. Leia has a blaster so that the Council will have to stop the debate to decide if he has violated their rules by cheating. That’ll keep them talking for months and make it harder on the GA to keep fighting.


She doesn’t think that’s a good plan. She gives her robe and lightsaber to Han and jumps to the top of the rock, demanding the jaw bone. It turns out the old Wookiee is Old Tojjelnoot.


Fortunately, Leia is able to take it quite easily, leading to accusations of cheating. She pretends to be surprised that the Force counts as a weapon. She does charm Tojjelnoot into letting her keep the floor.


She explains how her own family has been divided over the issues that are facing the Wookiees today. She and her husband have deeply held convictions. Her son does, too, which is the only reason he ever would have fired on the Falcon. This has the desired effect of earning the disdain of the family-oriented Wookiees.


Over Jae Juun’s objections, she accuses Jacen of staging an illegal coup based on amendments that he himself tabled in order to seize power without a legal election. She points to the huge number of Coruscant residents being arrested, the mysterious assassinations of the Bothan True Victory members and how the Falcon was fired upon while trying to rescue several Jedi, including members of Jacen’s own family, which he was very well aware of.


Tarfang decides he’s heard enough and brawls with Leia on the rock even after she drops the jaw bone. It’s interrupted by the arrival of Luke who says he’s come to address the Council Rock. He doesn’t look well, but he is determined.


He’s given the jawbone. He tells the Wookiees that the assassination of Cal Omas was arranged by Jacen Solo. The Jedi Council has now voted to actively oppose his continued leadership of the GA. He’s come to ask the Wookiees for help.

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chapter 13:


Ben finds his cousin on the Anakin Solo, calls on the memory of his last happy afternoon with his mother to make sure Jacen senses only embarrassment. Ben tells him that he didn’t think his father would blame Jacen for what happened to Omas.


Caedus tells him that killing a former Chief of State before the Senate had finished the investigation indicates that Ben didn’t think at all. Ben offers to go to trial but they both know that everyone would believe the GAG sent him.


They’re just going to have to play it like Ben was trying to save him. That’s what the HoloNet is reporting anyway. Caedus asks if Ben has told anyone else about his previous belief that he killed Mara. Ben denies it, explaining no one would have believed him. Besides, if he’d told his father, the Jedi wouldn’t have just deserted. Had Luke believed Jacen killed his wife, one of them would be dead now.


Caedus suggests they use the students at the academy as leverage to get Luke to return to duty. Ben explains that the only way holding the students hostage is a serious threat is if Jacen kills some of them. That will only get the Masters riled up enough to come after him. On the other hand, GAG resources are being wasted just sitting on Ossus.


Jacen’s next move should be making sure he has Jedi after the war. The academy is full of potential that he can use while the masters are flying around causing trouble. Ben can help him with this, if Jacen will take him back. Jacen isn’t sure he should after Ben’s emotional outbursts.


Ben admits that things were confusing. Jacen chastises him to be the master of emotions, not a slave to them. In the meantime, Ben couldn’t handle Omas with discretion, so he definitely can’t be sent to take care of the Solusars and Jaina. Realizing that Jacen is going to need proof of his reliability, Ben tells him his father is going to Kashyyyk to try to get the Wookiees to help him overthrow Jacen.


Caedus insists that no one else can do that. No one else can make the necessary sacrifices. The Battle of Kuat has gone on for a week now and both sides are losing capital ships. He checks on the readiness of the Wookiees and finds out that they are just now lighting their reactor cores. Caedus sends the Fifth Fleet to Kashyyyk. He will be joining it there to hunt down traitors and deserters.

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chapter 14:


Jaina keeps hearing Ben tell her to be ready. Then her dreams show her aboard the Falcon, being pounded, Zekk on the deck, wounded, Ben with his lightsaber and her father telling her to take the kids.


Jaina is staying in the dorm with the youngest students, Jag with the teenagers, Zekk hiding in the forest for the day when they will have to defend against the GA. Major Serpa seems content to leave the children to Jaina and the other adults.


She wakes up to find coma-gas creeping in. Jacen must have ordered something to keep her out of the way. She reaches out and grabs the culprit through the Force and slam him into the wall a couple of times. She opens the door and finds the guards struggling with the children who are determined to be as noisy as possible.


Jaina takes down a couple of guards and sneaks out into the night, to find the students being herded out into the exercise arena. Major Serpa lines them up and picks one child out of each level. Tionne Solusar appears, having killed the guard who tried to poison her in her sleep, and demands to know what’s going on.


Serpa shoots her in the leg before she can push his weapon away. Jaina can sense the rage emanating from Kam who is still in hiding. Jag sneaks up on her and tells her there’s a sniper on the roof. Serpa is hoping to draw her out.


The two Jedi who had been on guard duty, Loli and Vis’l, are dead. Jag guesses that Serpa was trying to kill all of the adults. Jaina jumps two sharpshooters nearby. Serpa shoots Tionne again. The children are frightened and starting to get angry. Jaina can sense Ozlo and Jerga hardening.


She jumps down into the courtyard only to have more blasterfire erupt. Serpa is told that Solusar, Ozlo, Jerga, Vis’l and Loli are down, Alfi is down in his cell, Hedda is down in her dorm. That leaves Jaina and Fel.


Serpa asks how long Jaina is going to hold out. He threatens to kill Tionne is she doesn’t show herself. Tionne calls for Jaina to ignore him. A GAG guard fires on her stump of an arm before Jaina jumps in with Jag behind her.


The children use the opportunity to use the Force to push back the guards. Jaina tries to help where she can but there are bodies everywhere. She reaches Serpa who has a young girl, Vekki, by the throat with a blaster at her temple.


Zekk cuts his arm off from behind. Then he cuts the other one off for good measures.

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  • Okay, so it sounds like Jacen was hoping that herding the Jedi students outside would provoke the adults and give the GAG the excuse to kill them. I’m still not sure that was a wise idea. I can’t imagine the image of the bodies of children on the ground are going to play well. And what happened to the parents? Weren’t parents allowed to stay where their kids were being educated, some of them given jobs? Or was that just in the Dark Nest trilogy? Also, anyone over 14 was considered an apprentice then, now they’re Wampas!



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chapter 15
 
Above Kashyyyk, Caedus wishes there were some way to bring his family together.  He knows he won’t be able to convince them of their mistake and certainly cannot absolve their treason.  Ben has been trying to talk him out of attacking the planet because they need the Kashhyyyk fleet.
 
Caedus assures him the Wookiees won’t accept any offer to avoid a fight.  Already Owool Intercepters are threatening to open fire.  He decides to cooperate with their demands to stop and explain themselves.  After all, Kashyyyk is a member world that is only listening to the deserters, not cooperating with them, yet. 
 
All they are here for is the prisoners.  Once he has them, the task force will leave.  Ben doesn’t think they’ll turn over Uncle Han and Aunt Leia.  Caedus doesn’t think so,either, which will give him the provocation he needs to act.  This does mean that the Wookiee fleet will be lost to them, but he didn’t come here for that anyway.
 
This is how they’re going to keep the Confederation from capturing Kuat and moving on to Coruscant.
 
He turns his back to Ben, giving him a chance to attack.  It’s obvious that Ben is masking his belief that his cousin killed his mother, but he doesn’t attack.  It’s possible he’s been sent here to lure the GA into an attack. 
 
When the Wookiees deny that the Solos were ever their prisoners and that there are any Jedi on the planet, Caedus orders the Anakin Solo’s turbolasers fired upon the planet.  Commander Twizzl is stunned, but Caedus explains his reasoning.
 
If the forests are burned, it sends a message to any world that decides to leave the GA.  The Confederation will also be forced to rush here to defend Kashyyy, rather than push on to Coruscant, lest they be perceived as not supporting their allies.
 
The Owools have disappeared, but Caedus realizes that they’re riding the turbolaser strikes for cover. It’s a Jedi trick.  He reaches out and finds Lowbacca in the cockpit of one of the fighters.  For a moment, he’s Jacen Solo again, lamenting the loss of a friend. 
 
He reaches out, inviting Lowie to sense his regret, then breaks the meld to warn Twizzl.  That’s when Ben’s strikes, killing Twizzl, then jumping at Caedus who is knocked down the by the shadow bomb that hits the Anakin Solo.
 
He sends Ben across the deck with Force lightning, using the Force to pull the boy’s lightsaber to him.  Ben challenges him to finish it.  Caedus deactivates the saber and tells him they’re just getting started.
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chapter 16:
 
Han can’t believe that the GA is targeting the cities along with the wroshyrs.  They should have dropped Jacen out of the medcenter window the day he was born.  Leia is sure he doesn’t mean that.  He tells her to look around at the Wookiees who used to respect him.
 
Leia reminds him and Threepio that Jacen was a hero once.  The galaxy would belong to the Yuuzhan Vong right now if it weren’t for him.  Han tells her that Jacen Solo is dead. His son wouldn’t do this.  Leia is about to argue with him when she realizes that he is right. 
 
The Jacen Solo who’d been tortured by the Yuuzhan Vong might have been capable of many things, but not torching an entire planet.  Her heart rips open.  Luke and the other masters arrive, all knowing that the Solos are too angry to be fighting right now.  While Han debates that angrily, Leia just sorrows at the point at which they’ve reached.
 
She remembers Mara asking if she thought Jacen could be corrupted by Lumiya. She’d wondered where that had come from, but now she wonders if Mara sensed what they know now.  For that matter, if Mara had started to question Jacen, is it possible that Tenel Ka will do the same now?
 
Tahiri has joined the fight, looking tired and sickly.  She tells Han that any attempt by him to attack Jacen would be a suicide attempt.  Leia agrees and thinks they should try to save at least some of these wroshyrs.
 
Alema thinks Ship has made a mistake.  Korriban is supposed to be a Sith stronghold where the spirits of long dead Masters were rumored to linger.  Luke had ignored the place, requesting that Jedi avoid it and that the GA do the same.  Now, however, the only population center is a dilapidated spaceport.
 
She decides to have a look to make sure.  She finds some beings gambling and asks where to find the Sith.  A Barabel offers to tell her in exchange for the ship.  It’s not like she’ll be coming back anyway.  The Sith are cloistered in the Valley of the Dark Lords. She tells him how to get into the ship and takes a swoop to the Valley.
 
Alema is confronted by a Togorian named Morto who is soon joined by a female voice coming from a row of cloaked figures.  Alema asks how there are so many when she was taught only two exist at any one time.  The voice explains that she was taught the old ways.  The Sith are one now.
 
Alema admits she found them by using the datachip she brought with them.  The Sith Ship brought her after the death of her master Lumiya.  She claims to have killed Mara Skywalker. 
 
Explaining that she has come here for guidance, Alema claims that Jacen Solo is stumbling without Lumiya to help him.  Lumiya told her there was a plan in place. They tell her it was Lumiya’s plan, and Vergere’s, not theirs.   They didn’t train Jacen Solo and he’s not their problem.  Alema is surprised to find out Vergere was a Sith. 
 
Their master wanted Lumiya to join their organization and sent the message before she and her escort were ambushed by the Yuuzhan Vong.  Lumiya escaped, Lomi Plo did not. 

The master had met Vergere when he was a captive of the Yuuzhan Vong and impressed her with his vision of One Sith.  After the first battle of Bilbringi, she escaped and met Lumiya.  Lumiya convinced her the One Sith plan was too slow.  Skywalker’s Jedi would be too strong by then, so they decided to create Jacen.
 
Alema points out that, if they don’t help Jacen, the Balance will be ruined.  They don’t understand this.  She tells them that there is a Balance between every user and the Force and between every user and their enemies.  The Force will fall if they do not do to their enemies what they do, too.  The Sith have heard enough.  They are about to let Morto kill her until she tells them Luke Skywalker will eventually come searching for his wife’s killer and will likely come here.
 
They decide to keep her alive for now, indicating that they may have something for Jacen Solo.
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•    Per Wookieepedia, the Battle of Bilbringi in question was the the one in 25 ABY during the Vong War.  After Vergere escaped from the Millennium Falcon in Agents of Chaos I: Hero’s Trial, she apparently met up with Lumiya and hatched their plot.
 
 

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chapter 17
 
Jaina arrives at Kashyyyk to find the forests burning.  She tells Luke that Jag and Zekk are watching the academy.  Most of the GAG guards were pretty upset at how Serpa handled things, the rest are quiet since the Wampas were given their weapons back.
 
She asks where Ben is and is unhappy to find out he is overdue.  He’s shutting himself off from the Force again. Luke tells her that her parents have left already.  Jaina notes that Luke seems distracted and really doesn’t want to tell him this, but she has found evidence that Alema Rar took out a freighter crew right after Mara died.
 
But it was before Luke’s fight with Lumiya.  They also know that she was in the Hapes Consortium at Roqoo Depot.  She likes to use poisons, too.  It certainly looks like she may have been responsible for Mara’s death.  Luke would like Jaina to look into it.  After Lumiya’s death, he would rather someone else handle this.
 
He and the others are going to soften up the Fifth Fleet to give the Wookiees time to put out the fires.  He’s going to make a run at the Anakin Solo.  Jaina insists she’s coming. Since Tahiri has vanished, Luke agrees to let Jaina take her place.
 
She knows he doesn’t want to to do this.  Jaina cannot reconcile her feelings about her brother.  Not understanding what could have happened to him during the Yuuzhan Vong capture or his five-year journey that could have affected him so profoundly.
 
Though she’d fought with the Fifth during the Vong war, Jaina is stung at how she must fight against them now.  They move against the Vulnerator which takes out three Stealths in the first strike.
 
Luke isn’t using the combat meld and Jaina realizes that he’s hiding from Jacen.  That’s why the Fifth is so prepared.  Jacen was expecting an attack and had looked for the meld.  She wonders if Luke is trying to make this look like a failure so he can slip aboard and take the Star Destroyer down. 
 
She follows and he lets her until a second StealthX pursues them and fires on Luke.  Jaina knows this is Jacen.  Somehow, he learned the whole plan.  Luke moves over the upper hull of the Anakin, Jacen firing on Jaina, almost teasing her for not being good enough to fly.
 
She drops up and back, feels Luke telling her to do it and presses her triggers.  Jacen flies out of the way, but takes a wing hit.  Luke’s engine is damaged, skids across the hull.   Jaina releases her triggers, but the bolts are already away and hit his fighter in the stern and explodes.
 
She can’t believe she shot her uncle down.
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chapter 18
 
Hidden in a secret hangar of the Hapan Royal Palace, the Millennium Falcon sits and Leia gasps.  Han wonders what he hit, until he realizes that something is wrong.  He asks if Jaina is alright.  She assures him Jaina is fine, but bursts into tears because of Luke.
 
Han can’t believe it.  Leia felt surprise, anguish and then he was gone.  Threepio asks if Artoo was with him.  She can’t tell, but the droid acknowledges that, if Luke decided it was necessary to die, then Artoo would have wanted to be with him.
 
They start down the ramp to meet Hapan security when Tahiri arrives to detain them.  She tells them someone has to stand with Jacen while he saves the Alliance.  Han tells her she’s too smart for that and wonders what Jacen has on her.  Tahiri insists that she is only doing what Anakin would want her to do.
 
Incensed that her son is being used as an excuse, Leia pulls her lightsaber.  Hapan security tries to intervene in the fight, but the two Jedi aren’t allowing it.  Han finally has to jump in to stop Leia, realizing that her anger is compromising her judgment right now.
 
Tenel Ka’s appearance does the rest.  She had not felt Luke’s death in the Force, but expresses her condolences and assures them that they are welcome here.  Tahiri insists they be under arrest.  Tenel Ka insists that the Solos have sanctuary anywhere in the Consortium.  When told the GA would not approve, Tenel Ka explains that she is the one who governs here and, as her forces make up a fifth of the Alliance ’s combat fleet, it’s disapproval is not something that concerns her.
 
After determining that Tahiri is not injured, Tenel Ka has her put on her StealthX and escorted out of Hapan space.  Major Espara suggests they remove the cloaking technology just to be sure she doesn’t slip back.  Considering that the Jedi deserted at Kuat, the Colonel is hunting them at Kashyyyk and Tahiri is here trying to arrest the Solos, the war has become quite confusing for the Hapans.
 
Tenel Ka decides that they will keep the whole starfighter and send Tahiri back in a messenger skiff.  Tahiri argues that they cannot keep an Alliance starfighter.  Tenel Ka tells her that they are keeping an enemy starfighter and a prisoner of war who was flying it.  They’ll give her back to Colonel Solo, apologizing for the misunderstanding surrounding this very confusing war.
 
Leia explains that she suspects Tahiri is spying for Jacen now and likely didn’t want Tenel Ka hearing what he’s been up to.  The Queen Mother holds herself together until they get into the lift, then she tearfully asks if the reports from Kashyyyk are true.
 
Han is surprised at how badly she’s taking all of this news, finally burying herself in his arms, weeping.  She explains that Jacen always seemed strong enough to hold the galaxy together.  Leia tells her that his methods are a bit excessive.
 
Tenel Ka mentions how he promised her he’d make peace with the Jedi, but tried to arrest them at Mara’s funeral, took over the academy on Ossus, sent Ben to assassinate Cal Omas and burned Kashyyyk and has her last fleet with him now, leaving her and Allana vulnerable.
 
Han admits it took a long time for them to realize Jacen couldn’t be trusted either.  They would urge her to withdraw support from the GA, but understand that siding with the Confederation after the recent attack on her may be too much to ask.  She clears her eyes, composes herself and reminds Leia that they all know those who are not for Jacen are against him.
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  • And yet she still does not confide to them that Jacen is Allana’s father.  All of these secrets!

     

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chapter 19
 
Ben is undergoing torture in his cell.  He holds on to the hate it inspires in him so that he will be able to escape and kill Jacen. 
 
Caedus tells him that his hate will help him endure.  Anything the Embrace of Pain does to Ben, it does to him.  He’s doing this to save him.
 
Ben asks if Jacen tried to save his mother that way, too.  She knew he was working with Lumiya.  Caedus asks why she didn’t tell the masters so they would all come after him. Ben knows she was just trying to keep his secret so he wouldn’t feel ashamed at how he’d been taken in.  Jacen doesn’t know this, though. 
 
Caedus does ask him if he would kill one life to ensure galactic peace.  Ben already knows he’s done that already by giving Jacen too many ideas.  He had wanted to win Jacen’s confidence so he could kill him and end the war.
 
But that isn’t the point.  Killing his mother didn’t bring peace to anything.  Caedus tells him that Luke and Jaina made an attack on the Anakin and Ben’s father’s ship was vaporized.  Ben doesn’t believe that means his father’s dead.  He hasn’t sensed anything through the Force. 
 
Caedus tells him that he hasn’t felt anything through the Force since he’s been here.  He challenges Ben to pull a vibroblade to him.  Ben tries, but can’t feel anything.  He can’t believe Jacen can separate him from the Force.
 
But it doesn’t mean his father is dead.  Caedus lets him access it again.  Ben feels the shock and sadness of Leia, Jaina, the other masters, as well as the confusion of why he’s on Jacen’s ship.
 
He also senses his father a couple of decks above.  Clearly, Jacen doesn’t know everything.  He knows his father is coming to do what Ben should be doing.  Killing Jacen is his responsibility because he wasn’t brave enough to tell anyone but his mother what had happened.  If he’d gone to the Council, they never would have let her go alone.  She would still be alive and Jacen would be dead.
 
Ben tells him that his father is still alive and is coming for Jacen. Caedus doesn’t believe it even when alarms go off.  He doesn’t even believe it when Luke is right behind him. 
 
Luke can’t believe his son is in a room with all manner of Yuuzhan Vong torture devices.  He springs with his lightsaber to graze Jacen’s kidney.  Having learned how to handle pain the hard way, Caedus doesn’t let that stop him. 
 
They fight brutally, pushing each other into Yuuzhan Vong biotechnology and inflicting painful injuries.  Luke traps Jacen but Ben wants to have the kill.  That argument causes a delay that allows Jacen to get free long enough to resume the fight again.
 
Jacen gets a garrote around him while Luke spins them both into a wall, before Ben plunges a vibroblade into Jacen’s shoulderblades.
 
Luke tells him to get to the hangar while he finishes this.  Ben still won’t go.  Luke tells him he can’t give into his rage.  That’s what Luke did with Lumiya and it made him weak.  Ben insists Jacen killed his mother.
 
Luke tells him that Alema killed her.  Jaina and Zekk found evidence putting her near the scene.  They will need to get out of here anyway before the turbolasers blow.  He sabotaged four of them.  Ben tells him that being near the scene doesn’t mean anything as Jacen was there, too.  And the turbolasers blew during the fight.
 
Luke reminds him that they can’t be sure of who the killer was.  For that reason, they cannot finish things with Jacen this way.  They’ll come for him when the time is right for both of them.  When their judgment isn’t clouded by pain and rage.
 
Ben tells him they’d better go now because Jacen still has his comlink.
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•    Ben, tell him Jacen was working with Lumiya!  Tell him!
 
 

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chapter 20
 
In the infirmary, Caedus is undergoing surgery.  The Confederation has come to the Wookiees’ aid, but at the cost of many injured aboard the [i]Anakin Solo[/i] hardly makes the diversion worthwhile.  Caedus knows that they blame him for this.
 
He can’t believe Luke beat him, despite his injuries and inflicted more on Caedus than he’s suffered himself.  He’d have died if Luke hadn’t been shocked by the brutality Ben showed. 
 
Caedus’s aide tells him the plan worked very well.  However, Admiral Niathal has kept Bwua’tu and Darklighter in the Core.  He’s told that Admiral Atoko was preparing to abandon all vessels at this points as the Colonel was unavailable.
 
Caedus dresses painfully and tells Atoko to hold tight, even if it means they are destroyed.  At least, they will take some Bothans will them.  Atoko understands this very well, but isn’t sure that expecting over 70000 lives to be sacrificed is a good idea.  If there were no chance of survival, maybe, but destroying a few enemy ships isn’t going to make this seem like an honorable sacrifice. 
 
Caedus decides to move forward with battle penetration.  Then the Hapans are there.  Caedus has had a miserable day, but, at least Tenel Ka is still on his side.  He opens himself to the Force and finds that she isn’t far away, but with her fleet. 
 
Her presence is sad and lonely, but invites him to talk.  He goes to comm. her and is stunned to hear her tell him that she’s not supporting him any longer.  He assures her that, if they meet personally, he can explain why he left Kuat.   She tells him he always has a reason for breaking his promises.  He may even be able to explain why he took over the Ossus Academy after promising to reconcile with Master Skywalker.  But he can never justify to her sending his own 14-year old cousin to kill Cal Omas.

She urges him not to insult her by trying to come up with explanations.  He assures her he can explain everything if they can just speak in person.  She thinks that’s a good idea.  She will send a skiff so he can surrender.  She hopes he does so because it would break her heart to fire on him.

Han urges him to consider the offer.  He doesn’t understand why Tenel Ka is agonizing over this because, so far as he is concerned, his son died during his fight with Onimi all those years ago.  Caedus becomes angry, telling his parents he should have known they were behind all this.  He will make them pay before he dies.

Tenel Ka opens her presence to him, so he can feel her sorrow, anger and disappointment.  Her love is one of a lost kind that one feels for someone who has died.  He knows she’s deserted him and that her love is just another sacrifice fallen to his destiny.  

She gives him one more chance to surrender, then open fires on the Anakin Solo.

Alema Rar watches the Fifth Fleet get pummeled by the Hapans.  It’s hard not to blame those pretenders on Korriban who wasted three days to train her how to use the meditation sphere and their gift to Jacen:  a stupid holocron of Darth Vectivus filled with trite homilies about doing business.

Ship reminds her that Darth Vectivus had been a middle manager in a mining conglomerate who accrued a vast fortune.  Alema isn’t sure how that’s supposed to help Jacen conquer a whole galaxy.  As it is, he’s setting himself up as a laughing stock right now.

Ship assures her that they are not entirely powerless here.  It wants to know which fleet she wants.  It can’t command the fleets, but can control them.  

Meanwhile, Caedus is trying to figure a way out of this mess. Orlopp informs him that Atoko wants to scuttle the fleet right now, the Colonel’s StealthX is ready and, frankly, there’s no room for Orloop so he’d appreciate a suggestion as to how he’s going to escape.

Caedus still clings to hope that he can turn this around.  Drawn toward the Bothan Fleet, he senses a Force presence and recognizes the twisted mental fragility of Alema Rar.  But her power is supplemented by something far more ancient and dark.  It urges him to attack.

He tells Orloop they’re going to escape by attacking the Bothans.  He sends his Force-awareness out, looking for those calm and collected minds he can use to bolter confidence.  Even Admiral Atoko stops resisting and the fleet changes course.  

The Bothans hold their position.  All they have to do is fall back and let their allies decimate the Fifth Fleet.  Caedus senses the indecision that Alema has sent them and plays on it.  He makes them think he wants them to fall back.  So they don’t and accelerate toward him.  His sinks into battle meditation and, drawing on the love he has for his family, even the ones who have betrayed him, looks forward to a future of peace.
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Epilogue:

Han lectures Admiral Babo of the Bothan Fleet on the dumbest move he’s ever seen.  He demands to know what Babo was thinking.  The Admiral admits that they thought it was an Alliance feint and that they never dreamed Jacen would actually try such a reckless attack.

Leia has to agree that Jacen is a good tactician.  He counted on the Bothans overthinking the situation.  Luke adds that he thinks Jacen may also be using ancient battle meditations to confuse his opponents.  Babo believes that explains a lot and is a good reason to invite others to join the Bothan coalition.

Tenel Ka interrupts to explain that her actions today should not be interpreted as support for the Confederation.  Her attacking Colonel Solo is not the same as her attacking the Alliance.  Babo turns to Tojjelnoot to see if the Wookiees are more amenable.

Tojjelnoot thanks the Confederation for coming to Kashyyyk’s defense, but he considers the Confederation partly responsible for what happened to his world because the Corellians and Bothawui started the war in the first place.  He has no qualms about the wisdom of Tenel Ka or Master Skywalker, but would rather hear all sides first before making a decision.

Luke explains that the position of the Jedi is that the GA does not exist with Jacen at its head.  This doesn’t mean that they will support the Confederation, especially it does not suspend hostilities in the Core.  Once Jacen is no longer in charge, everyone can work out their differences.  Babo maintains that regrouping the Alliance after the war is not acceptable.  

With that, Luke excuses himself to visit his son.  Han suggests that the GA and the Confederation just ignore each other for awhile.  They will remain neutral toward each other and not expend resources that are better used to fight Jacen.  Babo will agree so long as the Alliance ignores any extralegal steps the Bothans may take.

Leia knows this mean they are sending assassins after Jacen.  Babo reminds her of the countless lives that have been lost already.  If they are sincere in their desire to stop their son, they shouldn’t have a problem with this solution.

Luke allows that the Jedi won’t interfere.  Leia agrees she won’t stop them either.  Han warns them just to make sure nobody else gets caught in the crossfire.

Later, Jacen’s parents grieve their decision.  Leia wonders they’ve done.  Han tells her that they’ve done what they had to do.
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 End of Book 6
 
 

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