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"Invincible": Book 9 in the Legacy of the Force series


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Prologue:

Jaina Solo sits in a cold cell, unable to sleep because of her captor’s disorientation methods.  She can sense Jacen several cells down and knows he’s as defiant as she is.  That’s the benefit of their twin bond.  They are never alone truly.
 
She puts aside her despair and starts to make a plan that will free them and Lowbacca.  When she feels Jacen coming, she reaches out to him before he opens the wrong door.  He stands outside and she asks what took so long. 
 
He asks if she has a plan.  She assures him she does.  After all, she was waiting for him.
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          •    This scene took place in The Shadow Academy.
 

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chapter 1:
 
Jacen Solo asks what they call a person who brings dinner to a rancor.  They’re an appetizer.
 
Three weeks after the battle of Fondor, Jaina Solo and Boba Fett are inside the Verpine colony.  The Mandalorians have been invited to establish a base on Nickel One as a deterrent, but it hadn’t worked.  An Imperial Remnant invasion force has arrived and pounded the surface defenses. 
 
Fortunately, Jaina has been working with Fett for a month and knows him pretty well.  He’s not going to risk her in a battle he can’t win, not when she’s needed to hunt her brother.  She’s not sure she’s ready to do that, but she must for the sake of her family and the rest of the galaxy.
 
The Verpines are not helpful as guides and Fett is growing impatient.  He needs another way to the command center.  Jaina uses the Force to push past the swarming masses of Verpines to the lift.
 
Osos Niskooen explains that their batteries have been hit badly and assault shuttles are starting to land.  Stormtroopers are coming.  Fett tells them the power grid is about to go.  He turns to Jaina and asks what she senses.
 
Jaina thinks someone wants the Verpine munitions industry.  It may be too early for Jacen to be pushing the Moffs like this, but he is full of surprises.  If Fett’s done his job, nothing Jacen does should be a surprise to her.
 
He tells her to take a ship back and tell Beviin what’s going on.  This isn’t her fight.  The lift grows dark, falls the the tunnel floor, bouncing down the passage.  Bodies fly everywhere.  When the noise stops, Jaina pulls a glow rod and calls for Fett.
 
He’s still alive, but plenty aren’t, including Niskooen.  Director Ss’ess is, though, and offers a situation report.  Jaina notes they already know what’s going on.  Fett needs to know when the stormtroopers start blowing the airlock. 
 
When they don’t do it, Fett insists Ss’ess focus because it means trouble.  He needs him to tell Mobur to fall back to the second hangar with everyone who can make it.  Gas is coming in first.  He notes Jaina doesn’t have a breath mask.  She says she doesn’t need one. 
 
Using the Force, she pulls the vapor up and out the transport tube.  Now it’s time to fight.  They fire out as a slime slinks toward them, spreading to their clothing.  Fett can already feel it start to burn.  It gradually dissolves and falls off them, but the Verpine aren’t so lucky.
 
She starts to collect some of the slime, but he tells her that it’s probably Nano which the Imperials created based on the stuff her father found on Woteba when she was a Joiner.  They move quickly through the tunnels as Jaina muses the the Remnant clearly wants to keep the munitions plant going so it can supply Jacen with weaponry.
 
They find Fett’s Mandalorians in the middle of a battle with stormtroopers, but these were obviously better trained than the ones her mother fought.  Shooting quiet well, in fact.  Jaina ignites her lightsaber and charges out.
 
Sensing danger, she slams Fett into the ground as something crashes against the back wall.  Moburi appears, telling them they have nine seconds til the next shot.  It’s a big gun and Jaina’s determined to take it out. 
 
After she does, Fett approaches behind her and she instinctively swings with her saber.  It burns a small hole in his armor.  She tells him not to sneak up on a Jedi.  There are lots of things he doesn’t know about Jedi Knights, one being that they are great eavesdroppers.
 
In fact, she happened to be in a position to hear the conversation between Daala and Fett on the Bloodfin where they were both in agreement about ridding the galaxy of Jedi and Sith alike.  So she pretends she’s buying the fatherly act for now.
 
Fett tells her to take one of the Besu’liks in there as her own.  He’ll put it on her account.  She hopes the Force will be with him as he’ll need it.  He tells her she’ll need it more. 
 
If she doesn’t kill her brother, he’ll kill her.  Some things are worse than death for some people.  He tells her to give her father his sympathies.  Jaina says her father was right and that the Kaminoans used rancor drool to fill his veins.
 
Fett laughs and says her dad’s a smart barve which is why he’s so hard to kill.
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          •    The joke that began the chapter appeared in the Young Jedi Knights book Heirs of the Force
          •    So Fett’s status as a clone is also known now, eh?
          •    The reference to Woteba is from the Dark Nest Trilogy.
 
 

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chapter 2:
 
Jacen Solo asks his sister why TIE Fighters scream in space.  They miss their motherships.
 
In the Transitory Mists, there are no stars or constellations.  The Jedi are on the abandoned mining world of Shedu Maad to hide from Jacen.  Jaina knows they won’t have time to evacuate if he finds them.  She’ll have to get him first.
 
And she’ll have to convince the Masters.
 
Corran Horn is debating whether Jacen even sent the Remnant.  They could have acted on their own.  The Moffs had been depleted after Boba Fett and his Mandalorian team boarded the Bloodfin during the Battle of Fondor.  Those that escaped managed to join the rest of the fleet.
 
Luke doubts it matters as Jacen will soon control them anyway.  Hamner isn’t happy about the projections of Jacen’s power once he has control of the Remnant’s fleet.  They could accept Admiral Niathal’s offer to add her forces, but that would require them to negate their nonaggression pact with the Confederation.
 
Leia suggests they word their rejection diplomatically so as not to offend a potential ally.  Kyp suggests the Chiss and the Corporate Sector, but Jag Fel interrupts to tell him to forget about the Chiss.  The Nine Ruling Families won’t get involved in Jedi problems even if they decide to side against the Remnant.
 
The Verpines won’t break their deal with the Mandalorians and Fett won’t let them modify it.  Han quips that Fett only does what work for him.  Jaina notes that isn’t true anymore.  He has a family and his planet.  His word also still means something to him.  Leia suppose the war has accomplished something.  Here she was hoping it had never started, but it’s made Boba Fett a better person.
 
Jaina notes her mother’s bitterness, but says she’s not defending him.  If anything, he’s more vulnerable now.  He’s not a good guy and he’s never going to be their friend.  There’s no hope of stopping the takeover of the Verpine industry, so they will just have to keep the supply lines from reaching Jacen.
 
Luke would like to know what’s really on her mind now.  Jaina apologizes to her parents but believes they have to go after Jacen now.  Saba reminds her that arresting and capturing him hasn’t worked before.  Jaina knows this which is why they must kill Jacen.

Han interrupts to tell her that the man in office is not Jacen.  Their Jacen died in the Yuuzhan Vong war a hero.  He killed Onimi and helped win the war before dying of those wounds.  Caedus replaced the empty shell.  If anyone here can take him out, Han will arm the detonator.
 
Luke wondered when someone else was going to reach the same conclusion.  Despite his being a head of state, he’s convinced that the survival of their civilization depends on getting rid of Darth Caedus.
 
Corran knows there are a lot of legitimate reasons to do this, but he isn’t sure assassination is one of them.  Saba reminds him they’ve tried everything else.  It hasn’t worked because they refuse to see the truth.  He doesn’t balk at killing.  Removing him requires that they be the same.
 
Kyp wonders why Luke hasn’t brought it up before.  Luke admits he was afraid vengeance might be clouding him.  He wanted someone else to propose it first.  Jaina would like to go with him, but he tells her he’s not going to be the one to kill Caedus.
 
Every future that begins with him doing the deed ends in darkness.  He’s the only one that is sure of stopping him, but it always leads down that path.  Saba knows this is related to his killing Lumiya in vengeance.  It tainted him with the dark side which is why his hunt will inevitably end with vengeance.
 
Jaina would like to go in his place because she has advantages others won’t.  She won’t fight like a Jedi which is not something he’ll expect from her.  Allana has told them how he feels misunderstood and betrayed because no one will stand with him.  Han adds that Jaina is, after all, the Sword of the Jedi.
 
But she won’t do this without them.
 
Jaina realizes the Masters had already discussed this and knew she would ask for their sanction.  They had to be sure she was ready.  Taking in Caedus alive will not likely be possible.  They had held out hope in that area as long as they could.
 
Luke decides that Ben’s connections in the GAG will help Jaina so he will go with her.  Until then, Luke will do everything he can to keep Caedus from realizing that she is the one coming after him.
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chapter 3:
 
According to Jacen, the difference between a lightsaber and a glowrod is that a lightsaber impresses girls.
 
Caedus understands that he’s made a few mistakes as all Sith do.  He can see how he’s become blinded to his duty due to his own self-absorption.  It’s always the downfall of the Sith that they forget that they service the galaxy not be served by them.
 
It all started when Allana snuck off with his parents.  His pain made him unable to think or lead. He still loves her no matter what and had been wrong to try to escape that.  He needs to hold onto that love even though it comes with pain because that’s what makes the Sith strong.
 
There can be no angry outbursts anymore because how can anyone be expected to know what he sees in his visions unless he tells them.  He must rule through paitience, love and pain.
 
He walks down the corridor, pushing stormtroopers aside, until he reaches the surviving Moffs. Pushing their aides out of the room, he is thanked by the hive mother of the Roche system.  Caedus tells her that he’s not here to free the system, but to hold it.
 
The moff council should have consulted with him before attacking, but the truth is that the Mandalorians can’t protect them.  Moff Voryam Bhao thinks Caedus wants the Roche factories for himself. 
 
The other Moffs back him up.  They remind Caedus of how they helped him at Fondor and Lecersen points out that the Empire is only an ally, not a member, of the Galactic Alliance.  They do not need his permission to do anything.
 
Caedus remembers that they cannot see his visions of asteroids burning, maniacal Mandalorians and his uncle’s even gaze.  He tries to assure them this isn’t about spoils, but about protecting them.  The truth often does sound absurd.
 
After leaving the Sweet Time, Ben waits for Shevu at Monument Plaza on Coruscant.  Both Leia and Jaina are watching from the crowd.  Shevu is disguised as a tourist watching a hologram of how the Reconstruction Authority stopped the Maltoran pirate captain, Three-Eye.
 
Shevu tells Ben a couple of Jedi showed up and did it, actually.  He was with the RASP for all of its ten years.  There are people watching him him now, though, from the crowd.  Ben can sense a focused presence.
 
He uses the Force to muddle with their surveillance equipment and asks if Shevu knows where Three-Eye is. He has some friends who might like to meet him. Knowing what Ben is really talking about, Shevu thinks it can be arranged.  It seems the pirate’s new gang is causing problems on Nickel One and he’s gone there to straighten them out.
 
Ben gets a warning from Jaina that trouble is coming.  He yells that Shevu is a cop and tries to run, hoping whoever is watching will think the officer is just trying to catch a criminal.  Shevu pushes back to grab Ben’s collar, but he runs off only to see Tahiri coming.
 
He wants to go help his friend, but knows he can’t save him as GAG troopsleds arrive.  Instead he opens a comlink to Sweet Time.  He records a quick message and sends it before Tahiri grabs him.  They fight quickly before the GAG stuns him.
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          •    Jacen’s joke was from Lightsabers.
          •    Three-Eye was the pirate that Jaina and Zekk were supposed to be going after at the beginning of The Joiner King
 
 

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chapter 4:
 
Jacen asks how many stormtroopers it takes to change a glowpanel:  one to change it, the other to shoot him and take credit for it.
 
Jaina pushes through the crowd to find Tahiri and her troopers loading Ben into the sled.  Shevu is already there.  It’s taking some time to load them and Jaina knows it’s because Tahiri is hoping Ben’s backup will try to rescue him.
 
Jaina catches her mother’s eye.  Dressed as a Codru-Ji female in a flimsy outfit, Leia flirts with someone nearby a medwagon.  She runs to the patient compartment, wailing at one of the injured. 
 
Jaina poses as an uncredentialed officer.  A combination of the Jedi Mind Trick and some good old-fashioned fear of the GAG works its magic.  Inside the medwagon, they push out the driver and move across Borsk Fey’lya Plaza, hoping to follow the troopsled.
 
Some wild driving ensues before they hear a muffled voice yelling to activate coming from the patient compartment.  It sounds like Tahiri.  Realizing the patients in the medwagon may not actually be patients, they are surprised by gas coming through the vent.
 
Jaina stuggles to breathe and keeps fading in and out.  Her mother has a breath mask, taking over the drive toward Ben.  Jaina grabs the yoke and tells her they can’t go any further or they’ll run into a trap.
 
Tahiri had this planned just in case.  She thinks Shevu has been suspected of spying for a long time.  Leia points out that no one knew about his link to Ben but a handful of Masters.  Jaina knows that Fett knew but he’d given his word not to tell. 
 
Leia doesn’t think she can go back and tell Luke they lost his son.
 
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          •    Jacen’s joke was from Young Jedi Knights #2: Shadow Academy
 
 

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chapter 5:
 
Jacen says that his Uncle Luke only needs to sleep one Jedi night.
 
The Solos are intercepted in Hapan space by a Battle Dragon where they spot Luke and Artoo.  Though he surely knows what they’ve come to tell him, he will need to know how it happened and that someone close to them is a traitor. 
 
 Luke tells them it wasn’t their fault. He knew Ben would be captured before he sent him.  He couldn’t warn them because it would change the outcome.  Luke is trying to jam Caedus’s ability to see into the future.  When he tries, he’ll see Luke.  If he realizes what is going on, he will be suspicious of anything he sees.
 
He needs to see Luke instead of Jaina.  And the future cannot be altered significantly enough to make him think something is being hidden.  Leia wonders what Luke sees that scares him so much.
 
Luke explains that he sees something dark coming out of the future.  Caedus is part of it, but not all.  The darkness doesn’t go away when he kills Caedus.  This only confirms that Saba is right that he has been tainted by his killing of Lumiya.
 
Jaina knows this means they can’t do anything for Ben right now through the Force.  Influencing the future will give away what Luke is doing.    Luke does explain that there is no spy on the Council, though.  Both Luke and Caedus saw Ben in a vision on Coruscant and that’s why Tahiri was there.
 
It’s a mystery as to why Caedus wasn’t there, though.  Leia says Shevu told Ben that he’s on Nickel One. It does explain why every convoy they target is guarded.  He’s forseeing these raids which means he knows about the upcoming one, too.  They’ll have to follow through with it, though, or he will know what they’re doing.
 
On the other hand, there may be a way they can help.  Jaina just needs a dropsuit for Nickel One.  She’s been there recently and knows the layout well. Han would rather have a better plan. 
 
Luke tells Corran to have the Owools stand down while the other mission vessels will launch as planned.  Corran doesn’t understand what they will use as fighter escorts.  Luke assures him they will be waiting at Nickel One.
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          •    Jacen’s joke is from Young Jedi Knights #3: The Lost Ones.
 

 

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chapter 6:
 
Jacen jokes that the Bantha crossed the Dune Sea to get to the other side.
 
Jaina’s heart races while waiting for the StealthXs to slip in and destroy the loading docks at Nickel One.  When that happens, she will sneak in and hunt down her brother.
 
Her father calls for her to stay awake back there.  Saba hums with delight, but Threepio isn’t sure this is something to celebrate.  The blastboat is being rocked with firepower from turblasers.  Threepio doesn’t understand where their escorts are.  The only ships here are the enemy’s.
 
Luke asks if he can see StealthXs on the sensors.  Of course, the droid can’t but the ships can’t be escorts and diversions at the same time.  Even Han can’t find fault with that logic.  Luke just smiles, but Artoo flashes a message across the display.
 
Han can’t believe it.  Boba Fett comes on the speaker and demands to know what happened to their escort.  Han, getting nothing from Luke, tells him they rather hoped he would volunteer.  Fett recognizes Han’s voice and admits he thought he was on Coruscant
 
Luke cuts in to say that he would like to find out how Fett gets his info.  Fett points out he’s already found the bugs Jaina left at the farm.  Luke counters they weren’t Jaina’s if he found them.  For the time being, though, he’s busy and would appreciate the Mandos not getting in the way if they aren’t going to help.
 
Fett knows he’s got a choice of covering them or or watching their boats get blown apart.  He’ll go for it, but warns them not to hit any dark, fast and pretty ships.  Luke shouldn’t get used to this, either.
 
Jaina doesn’t want her parents doing this. It’s a bit late to decide that, but they all know Caedus will be expecting them and they need to take the focus off of Jaina.  Luke reminds her that she’s not the only one worried for her family, but she is the only one letting her attachments interfere with the mission.
 
They warn her not to lose her focus and to come back.  She puts on her dropsuit helmet and prepares to disembark.  Luke warns her that it’s not just Caedus who could try to turn her, but her own emotions.
 
He asks if she wants to hear a joke.  Why is a droid mechanic never lonely?  Because he’s always making new friends.  Jaina recognizes it.  She admits those corny jokes of Jacen’s keep coming back to her, too.
 
It’s alright to mourn the loss of her brother, so long as she doesn’t forget who he is now.
 
After ejecting, she uses her thrusters to get to Nickel One’s darkside and move to the Knob Nose Transfer Facility while the blastboat and the [i]Harbinger[/i] fire on each other.  The StealthXs are already hitting the docks.  She uses one of her minimissles to shoot down a fighter before it hits her parents’ ship.
 
When she sees a fighter coming from the direction they’ve gone, though, she knows she did exactly what Luke warned her against.  The other pilot wants to know what happened to his wingmate.  She shuts down her thrusters and tries to make herself hard to detect.
 
The pilot nearly misses her, but a stray turbolaser blast lights up her silhousette.  Jaina uses the Force to pull a power cable away and destroys the communications array.  He fires back while she hits her thrusters and isn’t fast enough.
 
Her helmet starts to fail and she tumbles out of control.  Her maneuvering jets are shot so she has to shut down the line.  Using her lightsaber, she pushes herself off the fighter and more alarms sound.  It spirals down to the asteroid and she, with only about 15 minutes of air left, begins to follow it. 
 
It explodes before it reaches the surface which indicates there are cluster mines down there, too.  A blastboat comes streaking down escorted by Fett’s Bes’uliike and by a couple of Tra’kads
 
She can’t warn them through the Force and attract Caedus’s attention.  This is the moment Luke had warned her about.  While the mines start tearing into the beskar hulls, her parents’ ship picks its way through, dodging them.  She wonders if Uncle Luke has forseen much of this.
 
If so and he left the Owools behind, counting on the Mandos to help, it’s certainly is a cold calculation on his part.  Jaina doesn’t know how many of the friends she made on Mandalore are dying and fervently hopes one of them is not Mirta.
 
Fett isn’t a fool. He’ll keep his word, but he’ll never give it to a Jedi again.
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chapter 7:
 
The difference between an AT-AT and a stormtrooper on foot is that one is an Imperial Walker and the other is a walking Imperial.
 
Jaina reaches her penetration point while her team hits the command bunker as their diversion.  She spots the gun crew by the hangar entrance and laments having to hurt them.  She’d grown up viewing stormtroopers as the enemy, but she’s old enough now to know they aren’t evil.
 
She has to kill them anyway or they will jeopardize her mission.  Knowing that Caedus is concentrating on Luke, she uses the Force to grab three dust caps and block the emitter nozzles which brings the defensive shields down, then she quickly dispatches the stromtroopers.
 
Mandos have landed by then and are entering the hangar.  She is tempted to let the airlock hatch close on them, but she’s not that ruthless.  Their presence is just inconvenient.  Besides, one of them is Mirta.
 
They aren’t too happy, though.  She warns them about the imminent detonation she’s set, which is the least she can do.  They don’t appreciate being set up by her uncle but she tells them that Fett knew they were coming here.  The galaxy is a cold place.
 
They want her to help them now because they are down two-thirds of their team.  Jaina knows some people she knew had to have died.  She asks Mirta about Orade.  Mirta admits he’ll be fine if they can get away in time. 
 
Jaina’s mission has nothing to do with theirs.  She wants them to agree to stay out of each other’s way instead.  Mirta shows her a vidreceiver that has an image of Caedus in meditation alone.  Jaina realizes that Fett has taken control of the surveillance system.
 
Since she can watch him at any time, she can help the Mandos first. 
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chapter 8:
 
Jacen asks if Tenel Ka knows why wampas have such long arms.  Their hands are so far from their faces.
 
They head down from the surface to the Strategic Planning Forum where nearly all the Moff Council is gathered.  The vidreceiver shows them sitting and talking.  Mirta plays the audio.  They aren’t happy about losing the Harbinger.  It’s suggested they should have listened to Caedus, but that doesn’t mean his Intelligence is always better. 
 
They all agree that Caedus is no Palpatine or there wouldn’t have been such a mess at Fondor. 
 
Caedus is nowhere on the monitors and Jaina thinks it’s a good bet he knows the Mandos are here.  The fact that he hasn’t warned the Moffs means something.  He could be setting them up, but Jaina doesn’t think it’s for this team’s benefit. 
 
Their mission is to take out the Moffs, though, and listening to Jaina isn’t part of that mission.  Vatok Tawr stays behind and asks if she really thinks he’s waiting for them.  She admits she can’t sense it, but does really believe that.
 
He admits he kept coming back to Beviin’s barn to fight her because he liked it.  She laughs and admit she liked fighting him, too.  It’s been a long time since she’s had this kind of camaraderie.  Jaina thinks he was better than Fett.  She felt bad hitting an old man like Fett; it was like hitting her father.
 
He laughs and tells her he’s going to tell him that, too.  Making sure she knows that Mando warriors should be told to shoot straight and run fast, while assassins are told to die proud, he takes off with the otheres.
 
She hopes they don’t all die doing this.  In fact, she hopes she doesn’t die fighting Caedus, knowing it can’t come down to a straight Force battle.  She will have to ambush him. 
 
When the attack on the Moffs begins, the Mandos toss grenades which lift up into the air and come back toward the projection booth where Jaina has tampered with the feed.  She knows Caedus is coming.
 
They detonate outside the booth. She can hear lightsaber hissing deflecting blaster bolts.  She shuts herself off from the Force and brings her sniper rifle to her shoulders.  He moves too quickly to provide a clean shot. 
 
Mirta is thrown back by him when she tries to go after a Moff and her helmet crashes against the wall.  She drops, folded in two, and does not move.  Jaina reminds herself that emotion is weakness and returns her attention to Caedus. 
 
He smashes another Mando’s beskar with just a tap of his lightsaber.  She can’t imagine he’s mastered a shatterpoint.  It’s a rare art that was lost with the great Master Mace Windu that could allow precise force to crack points of weakness in even indestructible materials and situations.
 
She fires three times at him.  One misses, the second hits his shoulder, sending him spinning.  She keeps firing until she runs out of pellets. Force lightning flies up to her position and shatters the holoprojector nearby.  She reloads and starts to move to another spot when she finds Caedus on his feet again with a wounded arm and deflecting every shot anyway.  She starts cutting a hole in the viewing panel of the projection room.  By the time she’s done, Vatok is the only one left and does his best to pummel Caedus.
 
The Dark Lord anticipates her every shot, using Vatok as a shield who is doing everything he can to keep going.  When she runs out of pellets again, he kills Vatok with his lightsaber.
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          •    Jacen’s joke is from Young Jedi Knights #4: Lightsabers.
          •    We never met Vatok in Revelation.  Sadly, those fights must have taken place when we weren’t reading.
 
 

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chapter 9:
 

The outside of the Ewok is the side that has the most fur.
 
When the proximity alarm goes off, Han notes the arrival of Niathal and Daala.  Threepio suggests they be considered allies despites Han’s assertion that they’re only here to see what can be picked off. 
 
He decides he needs to get Jaina before the Fourth arrives.  Jag reminds him that she hasn’t give the extraction code yet.  Luke is still working on the shield generator and Saba is worried that they’re letting Fett steal their hunt.
 
Han calls back to Luke who doesn’t answer.  Threepio explains Master Luke doesn’t seem to be with them. Sure enough, Luke is strapped in his seat, gaze ahead, not breathing or blinking.
 
Caedus deactivates his saber, treads across the room to find, happily, that his plan worked.  Several of the Moffs speaking against him are dead.  The others are grateful, awestruck and a bit suspicious, too.
 
He insists on handling the sniper himself.  Hearing a lightsaber ignite in the projection room, he ignites his own, allowing his pain to fuel his power.  The enemy is good, slamming a boot into him before he even sees it coming.  A brown-robed blur attacks him, not even pausing when he kicks back. 
 
Caedus sees that it’s Luke Skywalker whom he’s felt only a few minutes ago above Nickel One with his parents and Saba.  He could not be in two places at once.  This is the one swordsman that Caedus cannot fight one-handed.  He tries to put distance between them, but Luke will not let him go. 
 
Caedus tries to pull his dart thrower, but is pushed through the seats behind him.  He blocks the next blow with his lightsaber, then releases his dart thrower.  Luke dodges out of the way.  Caedus throws the body of the armored Mandalorian at him and the two bodies collide.
 
His uncle is buried under the body, blood pouring from his head and his arm motionless. Excited, Caedus knows his visions of late - of Luke sitting on the throne, firing from a Bes’uliike – may not come to pass now.  He’s also suspicious because Luke was fighting in a way he’d never done at the academy, conservative, but brutal.
 
He could be faking his death.  Caedus steps far back, takes a grenade off a dead stormtrooper and tosses it to the bodies.
 
Jaina has never been so full of the Force, despite the pain in her head. She can feel that grenade coming, too.  She reaches out and sends it flying back to her brother.  While he’s distracted, she sends Vatok’s body toward him and pulls his metal beskad sword as he goes.  Using both her lightsaber and the beskad, she swings at him, getting his wounded shoulder.
 
His arm flies off.  The part of her that remembers growing up with Jacen is too horrified to act, but the part that knows what will happen if she doesn’t pushes her.  She jumps after him, meeting his yellow eyes face to face.  Their lightsabers striking each other’s.  She brings the metal sword around and he doesn’t even try to block.  Caedus pushes her away with Force lightning.
 
He is shocked to finally see it’s Jaina.  He demands to know where Luke is.  She tells him he’s behind her.  A couple of stormtroopers arrive and she trades fire with them before deflecting bolts with her lightsaber. 
 
She backs into the projection room but Caedus tells the troopers it’s Skywalker they have to worry about.  He seems to be able to see Luke.  She slinks down, in pain, turning to find a Verpine tech.
 
The Verpine asks if she’s ready to leave.  Caedus is being rushed to the infirmary and her extraction team is already here.  Jaina insist he get her to the infirmary.  The Verpine won’t because she’s too injured.  She must come now.  Feeling her mother calling to her, Jaina agrees to leave.
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          •    Jacen’s joke is from Young Jedi Knights #4: Lightsabers.
 

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chapter 10:
 

Jacen asks what Jawas have that no other creature does.  Baby Jawas.
 
Ben wakes up to find himself in a cell with a small version of a YVH droid called XX. The droid asks a lot of questions that Ben won’t answer that causes XX to hurt him.  Ben passes out a lot.
 
Fortunately, they won’t get the location of the Jedi base.  Jacen had taught him to use a Force block.  So right now, he’s lying on his bunk in his underclothes and manacled there for good measure.
 
Tahiri comes in, looking much better than she had before.  She asks how he’s feeling and applies bacta to his wounds.  She won’t answer any questions if he won’t.  She massages his wounds and starts moving a little too close for comfort as he lectures her for trusting Jacen who will turn on her just as he did his own parents. 
 
Tahiri tells him that they all make choices in their lives.  Ben should have stuck with his first choice and the war would have been over.  He refuses to show loyalty to a man who killed his mother.
 
Despite the clear temptation the seductive Tahiri provides, Ben will not ally himself with a Sith. 
 
Two GAG guards come in, one of whom Ben recognizes from his first GAG raid.  Tahiri reminds them Ben isn’t an officer anymore, but a dangerous Jedi.  He is marched through the prison where there are hundreds of Bothans imprisoned.  Tahiri explains that several dozen per day have tried to kill Caedus.  They will be given a fair trial after the war and sentenced to death, but Darth Caedus cannot afford to let Admiral Bwua’tu be distracted.
 
She takes him to an infirmary where Shevu is lying.  His interrogation had complications but his survival is possible, depending on Ben.  Ben attempts to help his friend when Tahiri decides Shevu’s interrogation will go on despite his injuries but is stunned through his manacles.
 
Shevu is wakened. After making sure Ben hasn’t told them anything, he urges him to keep it that way.  Tahiri starts the torture again.  Ben reaches out with the Force, sending soothing energies to his friend, urging him into unconsciousness.
 
Tahiri is angry when Shevu doesn’t respond.  The droid MD assures her he is conscious but has probably gotten used to the pain by now.  She doesn’t think so.  She launches Force lightning at him causing the lines on the monitor to go flat.
 
The MD droid tells her that the prisoner has died.
 
Tahiri is stunned.  She insists Shevu be revived.  Ben knows that a dead prisoner is of no use to her and that his friend would not have given up anything to help Darth Caedus.  Tahiri has realized she followed Caedus for the same confused, desperate reasons he himself had.  Not that it makes a difference to Shula anymore.
 
She insists Ben made her do this by not answering her question.  She activates his manacles and his body shakes.  She strikes his face so hard the hoverchair he’s in rocks.  He uses his weight to push himself forward, uses the Force to push her and the two guards against the wall, direct the stun blaster of one of them at Tahiri and knock her out.
 
He pulls the stun blasters to him and gives the guards a choice to help him or die.  They tell him that the processing chute isn’t dangerous but has safeguards against escaping. Ben assures them he won’t use it.  Tahiri is going to be cuffed and dumped down there. 
 
He’s taking Shevu’s body with him, though.
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          •    Jacen’s joke comes from Young Jedi Knights #5: Darkest Knight.
 

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At the Jedi Academy , Jaina walks with her brother who blames himself for severing Tenel Ka’s arm in an accident.  She shows him, through their bond, how she sees him:  a kind young man who would never hurt a friend deliberately and who she’d rather have at her side than anyone else.
 
chapter 11:
 
It’s time to get a new chrono when an Imperial walker steps on yours.
 
Aboard the Loyal Dragon, Jaina is still working on cleaning her wounds when her mother appears.  She’s been in a healing trance for a week and needs more.  Her father quips that Luke didn’t look this bad after the Wampa attack.
 
Jaina doesn’t remember much about her extraction except staggering into the hangar to find her mother, Zekk, a bunch of other Jedi and Jag dragging her off while Luke warns them about the injuries he somehow knew all about.
 
Leia tells her to stop scrubbing the red spots because they’re only burns. Jaina insists it’s splashes of Caedus’s blood.  It’s clear her parents aren’t convinced, though she’s probably right about cutting off his arm.  They tell her that she has a concussion and may not remember much about the fight or the flight from the hangar.  In fact, she asked both Jag and Zekk to bunk with her at the same time.  They can produce Threepio for proof.
 
Jaina insists she’s not imagining things.  The Force may be trying to tell her something.  She may have been confused at the end of the fight, but she wasn’t the only one.  Caedus didn’t seem to realize he’d been fighting her.  When he did, he stopped attacking.
 
They aren’t convinced this was due to any brotherly love, but they promise to have Cilghal look at the red marks at Shedu Maad.  They can’t do anything more at Nickel One with Caedus’s own fleets there now.
 
Threepio appears with news that Boba Fett wants to see her.  He pushes his way in, wanting a post-mission briefing from her.  Over her parents’ objections, Jaina tells him that the team only got a handful of Moffs before Caedus arrived.  He rescued them.
 
Fett argues that this is something he shouldn’t have been able to do if Jaina had taken him out like she was supposed to.  Jaina breaks up an argument between him and her parents before explaining that Mirta chose her attack without knowing where Caedus was.  There was no way of knowing.  He threw her against a wall and she didn’t get back up.
 
Fett is adamant that Jaina can’t know she’s dead just for that reason.  Luke enters the room and tells him not to blame Jaina for this.  The Mandalorians inserted themselves into this mission hoping the Jedi would be their shields.
 
Fett argues that Luke made sure they paid the price.  Jaina tells him that she’s sorry about what happened to Mirta, but he didn’t have to go after the Moffs while Caedus was here.  Fett wanted him to know he was behind this.  He dragged her off for his own personal vendetta and it cost him.  This isn’t an assassination, it’s war and everyone takes casualties.
 
The anger in his eyes lessens.  He asks if she’s done.  She tells him to shoot straight and run fast.  He tells her to die proud.
 
Luke tells everyone the Fifth Fleet is going to bombard Mandalore right now.  Hapan Intelligence has reported that Bwua’tu is taking over in the Roche system, but it doesn’t look like Caedus is on his way back to Coruscant.
 
Leia knows he’s seen something through the Force.  Luke confirms it’s not based on an intelligence report, but on something more certain.
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  • Jacen's joke comes from Young Jedi Knights #6: Jedi Under Siege.
  • Tenel Ka's arm was severed in Young Jedi Knights #4: Lightsabers.       

 
 

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chapter 12
 
An Imperial Star Destroyer wears a bow TIE to formal occasions.
 
Ben walks into the Nova Station refueling depot’s cantina and sits down. He knows he’s being watched, though, and worries he’s been followed.  His instructions are to be here, though, and to wait for someone he recognizes.
 
A pair of beautiful women, twins, appear and introduces themselves as Tenel Ka’s cousins, Trista and Taryn.  Hapan security is watching discreetly. Ben points out that Tenel Ka has no Hapan cousins because Isolder is an only child.
 
Taryn explains that Isolder is the only surviving legitimate son, but she assures him if one of his half brothers had been a half sister, Ta’a Chume would have made her the heir instead.  They are taking him to the prince, though.
 
They take him to a ship where Ben questions if security has swept the hangar first.  He heads aboard the ship, takes a shower, tries to sense if Tahiri is anywhere around and is dazzled when the lovely women give him a fantastic meal. 
 
He still checks in the Force and asks them if there’s any reason why there should be a droid on the hull.  They confirm that it has transmitted something back to Nova Station.  Ben decides to stick himself to the hull and go out to find out what it is.
 
He can’t believe when he finds XX out there.  Trista comms him and asks if he’s always this much trouble.  A Star Destroyer just came out of hyperspace.  Ben uses a Force push to knock XX out into space, then spies the Anakin Solo out there.
 
The huge ship has a tractor beam lock on the ship in which Prince Isolder is waiting.  Ben wants to help him, but the twins won’t let him.  After all, Tenel Ka is going to be mad enough about her father.  It’ll be worse if they don’t deliver him.
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          •    Jacen’s joke is from Young Jedi Knights #9: Delusions of Grandeur.
          •    Isolder had a brother who died.  We learned about that in The Courtship of Princess Leia, but there was no indication he was a half-brother.
          •    And Ben’s instructions were to wait for someone he recognized.  Yet, it’s clear that he’d never met Trista and Taryn before. Maybe he was just supposed to recognize they were Hapans and not necessarily look for someone he knew?
 
 

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chapter 13


Jacen heard two droids talking. One asks if the other beat the Wookiee at sabacc, the other answers that it did, but it cost him an arm and a leg.
 
Caedus paces around his wardroom, marveling at modern medicine.  He’s got a prosthetic kneecap now which he slams into the bedframe on which Mirta Gev is lying.  He reminds her that she is an Alliance prisoner that will be released when the war is over.  She could do that without being confined to a hover chair if she will just answer some questions.
 
She hasn’t said a word, but she doesn’t have to for him to read the obsession with avenging Ailyn Vel, to say nothing of her mother’s lips and her grandfather’s cold, dead eyes.
 
He wants to know how many Jedi were on her team.  Tahiri comes in and he tells her that Mirta was going to tell him who cut off his arm.  Tahiri notes that she would have thought he would already know that. 
 
Since Mirta doesn’t seem willing to help out, Caedus turns to find out what Tahiri wanted.  He assumes Ben slipped past her surveillance.  She admits the agent has not been recovered and he fumes at losing XX but is impressed when he learns she’s captured Isolder.
 
The prince refused to be confined in VIP quarters so is with his crew.  He’s an honorable man that Caedus had once imagined would be his father-in-law.  Tahiri doesn’t think he’ll be an easy man to break, but Caedus doesn’t think that will be necessary.  He’s learned that the Jedi base is in the Transitory Mists and will know more as they get closer.
 
He doesn’t explain the Nightsister blood trail to her and he can’t leave here until he understands what happened to him in the Tactical Planning Forum.  Caedus decides to leave Mirta to Tahiri.
 
They talk about disfiguring her, but Mirta calls Tahiri several unpleasant names.  Caedus warns her that it’s not Tahiri’s fault that Mirta was sent on this mission.  After all, as Boba Fett’s granddaughter, she could do nothing less.
 
An officer comes in to explain the moffs want a blood sample from the prisoner.  Tahiri wants to know why.  The officer explains that the moff wants to develop a nanokiller virus that targets Boba Fett specifically.
 
Mirta agrees to tell them what they want if they do not take the blood sample and give her the injection needed to heal her body.  She insists it was only Jaina, but he is so adamant Luke was there that he won’t even use the Force to sense her lying.
 
She tries to tell him what he wants to hear but he knows she’s lying then.  He allows the sample to be taken, but the injection given, too.  Tahiri tells him if he’s going to break his promise he doesn’t have to justify it.  She could tell Mirta wasn’t lying at first.  She only started when he kept pressing her.
 
Caedus is certain that his uncle is haunting him wherever he goes and believes that only killing him will end this war.

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          •    Jacen’s joke is from Young Jedi Knights #2: Shadow Academy.

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chapter 14:

Jacen asks what the difference is between a lightsaber and a glow rod. Answer:  About two thousand degrees.

After limping back to the Shedu Maad base, Jaina spent time recovering under Cilghal’s care.  Today, she can finally throw herself into a workout.  She spars with Zekk, Lowbacca, Tesar and Jag.  

Jag tells her she’s got that wild look in her eye again.   She knows the one he means.  Beviin had taught her how to lose herself in a fight.  Cilghal won’t let her practice anymore.  Jaina protests that Caedus is recovering, too.  

Jag points out that she will do no one any good if she reinjures herself and Caedus recovers fully.  She decides to grab some shatter panels.  Before Jag can get in his arguments, Luke points out that Shatterpoint is a Force technique, not a physical one.  Cilghal approves so long as she does not twist her body too violently.

Jaina had explained how Caedus had used shatterpoint to destroy Roegr’s armor.  She’d been surprised when Luke offered to teach it to her.  It hadn’t occurred to her that a lost art would be something her uncle had learned, too.  He had told her that, if Jacen could learn to use it, so could she.

In the Force, she examines the panel Jag holds, seeing how the Force bound its cell together and where the grains of the wood were the weakest.  She uses the Force to shatter the slab’s bonds. She does the same to some stormtrooper armor, a hfredium hull plate and a disc of raw beskar.

Ben arrives with two Hapan women, twins, and certainly relatives of Tenel Ka.  In fact, Tenel Ka herself is here. It’s Jaina’s first look at her niece who so resembles Jacen at that age.  The Solos remain where they are; the decision to protect Allana by keeping her paternity a secret is still in force.  The twins banter over the good-looking men here.

Tenel Ka explains how her father has been captured and is being held on the Anakin Solo which is on its way here now.  Prince Isolder knows the location of this base, so it’s clear that he probably forced to reveal it.  They may not have time to evacuate.  

Luke doubts Isolder said anything.  He notes the stains on Jain’s face and neck that won’t come off.  It’s Caedus’ blood.  Tenel Ka recognizes it as a blood trail used by the Nightsisters on Dathomir to mark their slaves.  Luke knows Caedus is coming for him.  Tenel Ka and Allana should leave quickly.

The Queen Mother will not abandon her friends.  It’s better to defend her throne among people who support her rather than deal with enemies behind her back at home.  

While Jaina frets over how she managed to lead Caedus here, part of her wonders if there’s any part of Jacen left.  He had known what he was doing even after losing his arm.  He wanted her to take him to the Jedi.

Her parents recognize that she’s finally lost hope.  She admits she thought there was still a chance when Caedus ordered the stormtroopers to redirect their fire, but she saw what she wanted to see.  Ben wonders how one knows when another can be brought back to the light.  

Tenel Ka explains that person must want to be redeemed.  Caedus just wants to control everything.  It’s not like being a confused kid like Ben was;  Ben wasn’t killing family members or destroying planets.  Jaina asks Ben if he’s actually talking about Tahiri.

Ben admits he thinks she hated doing everything she did.  She tried to do what she could to avoid hurting him.  She felt terrible when Shevu died.  She’s not as far gone as Caedus.

Allana pipes up that Jedi Jacen scares her because he likes hurting people.  Jaina promises he’ll never scare her again.

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          •    Considering that Darth Caedus is on his way and not very many people realized it, was it really important for the Hapan twins to be      bantering with Ben and Zekk?

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chapter 15:

Jacen says that the Jedi Master was cross-eyed because he couldn’t control his pupils.

The Jedi have set up an ambush in the Transitory Mists, hoping that Caedus will follow the blood trail to Jaina who will have to make it look like she is rushing back to the base to warn them.  That’s when the Jedi will attack the Anakin Solo which will give her time to get aboard and find her brother.  She tries not to think about what will happen next.

It’s hard enough to think about Zekk.  She’d always assumed they would forever be the perfect mission partners.  They’d been able to connect through the Force so easily, but that changed while Jaina was away with the Mandalorians.  It’s almost as if she has to keep reminding herself that he is there.

She wants to believe that her mission has disrupted their friendship, but she knows it’s because he’s given up waiting for her to sort out her personal life.

Caedus’ fleet is moving closer, looking for hazards and ambushes.  They’ll find both.  There are squadrons out there waiting to rid themselves of any reconnaissance skiffs.  She doesn’t bother to hide herself in the Force.  

Suddenly, they are fired upon and spent some time evading their pursuers.  They can’t go back to the base too soon lest Caedus realize he’s heading into a trap, so they’ll have to dodge into the Mists ice field to make it look like they’re trying to lead him away from the base.  Except they can’t do it too soon or they’ll lead him away from Tenel Ka’s fleet which is only a couple of minutes away.

Meanwhile, Han and Leia watch the screen, Han lamenting how Jaina had to be used to draw Jacen in, his son seemingly bound and determined to kill everyone in the family.  He warns Leia that their next children won’t be Jedi.  Saba’s team waits to board the [i]Anakin Solo[/i] as part of its mission to rescue Prince Isolder.  

The flotilla including the Anakin, however, appears to include a number of Star Destroyers that had to have made up the remnant of the Imperial fleet that survived Roche, as well as the Super Star Destroyer Megador.

Luke decides that there’s no point holding back defenses now.  After telling Corran to give the order, he stands with his head down and eyes closed, as if he were in a trance.  The Jedi defenses launch with a diverse number of ships piloted by Wookiees, deserters from the Alliance, StealthX pilots.  

Leia suddenly grabs Han’s hand and tells him that Jaina and Zekk aren’t under fire anymore.  The GA fleet is slowing down, but isn’t close enough yet to the Hapans.  Han wonders if they’re starting to be more careful.  

Saba expresses her frustration that Luke is out of commission again when they need him.  Everyone is concerned about the children who are kept ready on the docks below to act as decoys.  They were going to be evacuated before the station was attacked, but the long-range turbolasers Caedus now has makes evacuating now almost moot.  

Saba goes to the consult the other masters.  The chat stops as soon as C-3PO announces that the Anakin and Megador have launched starfighters.  Han declares that Caedus is falling for it; they need to give him a reason to get closer and take the opportunity to evacuate while they can.  

Saba and the masters nod; the Barabel tells Han that they all agree he can give the order.  After all, it was his idea.  Han calls Ben and tells him to start evacuating, but to stagger the ships so it doesn’t look like everyone is leaving at once.  

Soon, the ships begin leaving the station, heading toward Caedus’ fleet, but then arcing toward the ice field where the Hapans are hiding.  Some of the Remnant fleet starts to pursue, but the Anakin and the Megador staying put.

Luke opens his eyes and comments that he didn’t tell Ben to evacuate.  Han assures him that it was time.  Luke thinks that their plan will have to adjust due to Caedus’ caution.  Han suggests the first thing they do is get off the station.  

While the Megador and Anakin use turbolasers, Jaina and Zekk, in badly damaged ships, still have their shadow bombs.  Jaina tells Sneaky to arm all of hers and to launch them when she gives the order.

The Anakin starts to bank toward them as Wookiee Owools, some Skiprays and XJ7s swarm around.  A StealthX flight, led by Luke inside a Mandalorian Bes’uliik move up toward the Anakin Solo’s belly.

She fires her engines, gives Zekk a thumbs-u- and they both move forward toward the shield generator domes on the top of the Anakin Solo’s bridge.  Suddenly, the both feel that danger sense in the Force.  Caedus was coming and knows where they are.

She orders Sneaky to launch her shadow bombs followed by Zekk’s.  A shock wave catches her and sends her spinning.  Nauseus, she rights herself and brings the Anakin in view.  Zekk’s presence in the Force is gone.  

Trying to find him, she gets a sense of danger, only to be nearly hit by a turbolaser bolt.  Knowing Caedus is directing fire, she tries to hide herself in the Force. The Megador attempts to cover the Anakin Solo while the latter continues to try to protect the Remnant Assault Fleet from the Hapans.

The StealthX’s, still led by Luke, are getting closer and closer to the Anakin.  Jaina urges him not to waste himself and his pilots by trying to protect her too much.  She sends through the Force that he should go.  He sends back to her to trust the Force, then he and his pilots fly away.

Now it’s on her to save Prince Isolder and kill her brother.

Her ship is hit by cannon bolts, causing warning lights everywhere.  She ejects wearing a vac suit, watches her starfighter crash against the larger ship and then activates -her thrusters.  Masking her presence in the Force, she warns Caedus to get ready.
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chapter 16:

Jacen says that Bothan politicians tell the truth sometimes because they’ll do anything to win elections.

Caedus is calm, despite his day cabin being blown out, lockdown alarms blaring and knowing that he had been led into an ambush.  He wasn’t prepared for Luke to be out there, leading the starships.  Just as in his visions, Luke is coming for him.  Caedus had jumped from his chair and rushed into the tactical salon before Luke had launched his weapons.

Now, he sees a throne surrounded by all manner of species and a tall-red-headed woman at the center.

Tahiri shouts at him to bring him back into reality.  Caedus stops, then the vision changes to the face of his sister telling him to get ready.  He laughs.

Tahiri wants to know what’s happening.  Caedus tells her that Jaina is coming for him, despite the fact that even Luke Skywalker couldn’t kill him.  Tahiri doesn’t think they should get careless.  Caedus claims that Jaina can do nothing; he knows the future and they’ve won.  He also dismisses her observations that the Moffs are frantic about their fleet.  

She thinks there’s something the Moffs are withholding; she can sense it.  They didn’t really trust Caedus’ abilities and this ambush isn’t giving them any more faith in him.  He needs to fix this.  When he argues that he can’t change the past, she points out that he did for her.

If he can flow-walk her back to a battle so she could kiss Anakin, he can certainly go back and warn someone about this ambush.  

Caedus is forced to admit that the flow-walking was real and she did kiss Anakin, but it didn’t change the past.  Nothing can.  All the kiss changed was the way she perceives the past.  Realizing that she was manipulated, she becomes angry and calls him the slime under a Hutt’s tail.  

He approaches a GAG sergeant to tell him that his sister Jaina is aboard the ship.  She needs to be found, but they must alert him when they do, not approach her themselves.  The sergeant asks if the Anakin Solo will make it out of the battle intact.  Caedus informs him that they’ve already won.

Tahiri is already with the Moffs when he arrives.  She tells him that they think he’s insane.  Only Moff Lecerson doesn’t try to deny it.  Caedus tells Lecerson to bring him up to date on the discussion.  Lecerson explains that they were concerned about the tactical situation and expressed a suggestion to change the course of battle.  Caedus answers that he’s always open to suggestions; but that they should brought to his attention, not Tahiri’s.

Lecerson suggests they disrupt the Hapan command structure by attacking the Dragon Queen.  Caedus knows this means they want to attack Tenel Ka, which would not bother him were it not for the presence of Allana he can feel aboard the ship.  

He’d never thought Tenel Ka would endanger their daughter.  On the other hand, having lost Allana to kidnappers once, she would not risk it again and that’s something Caedus understands himself.  

Lecerson explains that their nanokiller targets specific beings using genetic markers that can be gotten from the DNA of anyone related to them.  That’s how they were able to target Boba Fett with the DNA taken from his granddaughter.  Since they have Prince Isolder, they can create a strain that will kill Tenel Ka.

Caedus will not allow them to know his concerns about this project surround the danger to Allana.   He finds out that the Fett project is complete;  even now, an air-dispersed virus is making its way across Mandalore.   The assassin strains only need light to renew themselves so this one could last forever.  They just have to wait for Fett to return home.

They could have a nanovirus ready in a couple of hours.  They know where the Dragon Queen is, sitting off the far edge of the battle, so they could slip a group of commandos aboard by having them play the part of a crippled missile boat crew.  

Tahiri notes that half the officers aboard the Dragon Queen are probably related to Tenel Ka.  Caedus explains that the virus won’t be necessary because they’ve already run.  Lecerson argues that it really doesn’t seem that way.   He is trying to save Imperial lives.

Caedus orders that there be no nanokiller attack.  As long as they do what he says, they will save a lot of lives, including their own.  Lecerson backs down, but Caedus senses that he’s not sincere in his pledge of faith.  But, then, it’s not like he can just swipe some of Isolder’s blood.

Caedus reminds them that they are all in this together.  Lecerson is glad to hear that, as he was growing concerned that they were wanted for their ships and not their advice.  Caedus tells them to stay here while he goes to find his sister.  The Megador will save their fleet while the Anakin Solo follows it into battle.  

The Moffs are unhappy that this exposes them to additional starfighter attacks.  Caedus reminds them that wars can’t be won without risking lives.  This is where they risk theirs.

He tells Tahiri to take a starfighter and go after the transports that just left the Jedi base. Once the Megador breaks the Hapan lines, they’ll follow her and finish this.  She agrees, but warns him that she will never forgive him for letting her believe they could bring back Anakin.

He knows.  He’s taught her an important lesson about trust.  For now, he has something to do. She knows he has to deal with Isolder.  She likes him. Caedus admits he does, too, but he can’t take a chance.

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chapter 17:

Jacen jokes that sleet storms on Hoth are called Summer.

Jaina makes her way through the Anakin Solo’s prison hold, dragging a female security officer named CeeCee – who’s now wearing Jaina’s flight suit – with her.  When guards appear, Jaina reminds her captive to behave.  

The guards are distracted with the Jedi Mind Trick to a certain degree, but even that doesn’t stop them questioning why she would want to know Prince Isolder’s cell block location.  She drops that she just wants a good look at the famously-handsome man.  

Her captive doesn’t think much of the Jedi Mind Trick, especially if Jaina’s going through all this trouble for just Isolder.  She would have thought Jaina was here for the Mandalorian woman who was working with a Jedi when she was captured.  She understands that the woman is related to Boba Fett somehow and that Caedus handled her interrogation personally.

Jaina feels horrible that Fett was right when he accused her of abandoning his granddaughter.  Her captive tells her that she can’t help her get into Isolder’s cellblock anyway.  It’s maximum security and she has no access.  

She drags CeeCee through the security area anyway and finds Mirta Gev in the Force.  Using her powers to force her way into the cell and dispatching the guards, she knocks out CeeCee.  Mirta is lying motionless on a bed with only one hand restrained.

Jaina explains that she thought Mirta was dead. Mirta suggests she could have made sure first.  It would have spared her what she went through here.  As it is, she can’t go anywhere.  She knows why Jaina is here so it surprises her that she is here instead.

Jaina wonders if CeeCee diverted her here to waste time.  She promises to come back for Mirta who makes Jaina promise that she will warn Mirta’s grandfather about a virus the Moffs have concocted based on her blood.  She also has to tell Fett that he’s responsible for this happening to her.

He’s the one who sent her on a death mission.  Jaina can’t help but think that Mirta isn’t herself, but agrees.  Mirta also asks for a weapon to hold off the guards and CeeCee when they wake up.  Finally, Jaina needs to know that her brother underestimates her to the degree that he doesn’t even believe that she was the one who cut off his arm.  He thinks Luke Skywalker was there instead.  

Prince Isolder is impressive looking even in a cell.  His bearing shows him to be a man with a sense of purpose.  He’d married for love in a society that scoffed at it; raised a Jedi daughter among those who hated them and served his people instead of himself.  He is wise and has a good heart.

Caedus isn’t sure killing him is the right thing to do.

Letting the Moffs develop their nanokiller wouldn’t hurt the Alliance, but he can’t sacrifice his own child just to save the rest of the galaxy’s children.  It would make him a monster worse than the Emperor.

She can’t be the price for peace when he saw her on the throne in his vision.

When he enters the cell, Isolder admits he wondered why he hadn’t been interrogated yet.  Now he sees that Jacen Solo is going to do it himself.  Caedus informs him that it is Darth Caedus now and that he was able to find the Jedi base another way.  After all, he wouldn’t want to diminish Isolder’s dignity.  Isolder didn’t expect that from a child-stealing scum.

Caedus admits he has made mistakes.  Isolder will be coming with him now.  He has to use the Force to bring the man to his feet, then tells the Prince that he will be taken back to the Beam Racer and released with his crew.  There is battle going on, but they should be able to get far enough away from the ship to stay safe.

Isolder refuses to believe he’s being released for nothing.  Caedus admits that his only other choice is to kill him which he would rather not do.  Isolder thinks he hopes the Beam Racer will lead him to the Jedi base.  Caedus denies this, arguing that he already knows where the base is.  

Isolder realizes that this is about the nanokiller.  He’d rather die than bring the virus back to his daughter and their people.  Caedus understands that Isolder thinks he’s being tricked into dispersing the virus among his family, but there’s not a lot of time to convince him of the truth when he has his sister and Luke to handle.

He uses the Force to snap the prince’s neck, then comms the hangar to tell Orlopp that Isolder won’t be joining his crew.  They can leave without him. Orloop doubts they will be willing to do that.  Caedus knows this. Their ship will have to be destroyed and voided out of the hangar.  

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          •    Jaina’s flirt charade was based on what her mother had done on Coruscant.  When it doesn’t work, she muses that she doesn’t have now what her mother has at 60…
          •    Interesting that Jaina never bothered to ask CeeCee where Prince Isolder was before she ran into the two guards, especially since that’s where she was headed during the encounter.  Also…since Jaina used the Jedi Mind Trick in order to get the guards out of her way, pumping them for information about Isolder’s location seems reckless.

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chapter 18:

Jacen asks what you get when you cross an Ewok with an astromech droid – a short circuit.

Jaina attracts little interest as she moves through the security wing; people seem nervous.  She spots a Bothan with several severed limbs, clearly done by a lightsaber.  A guard notices her gaze and comments that it’s just another Bothan assassin.  Caedus usually makes short work of them.

She asks if the ship is in trouble.  The guard tells her that they should be fine; the Megador will put the Hapans on the run.  Another guard explains that people tend to get jumpy when “Darth Maniac” is around.

Jaina asks if Caedus is nearby and is told that rumor say he’s got a body with him.  He could be on his way to the disposal pit.  Jaina’s heart sinks, knowing that he must have killed Prince Isolder.

Traveling through the wing again, she doesn’t know how close she has to be for the blood trail to work and tries to focus on Zekk through the Force, hoping he’s still alive.  Along the way, she encounters a droid that confirms Darth Caedus has the body of Prince Isolder with him.  It would appear that he snapped three of the Prince’s vertebrae.

The PA announces that the ship will be jumping to its final objective.  Jaina knows this means the Jedi base at Shedu Maad.  She wonders if she should reach out to Luke when the fight begins.  Then, remembering what Mirta said about Caedus underestimating her, she knows it would be a mistake.  He will be prepared for Luke, not her.

She finds Caedus’ guards outside the biodisposal room hatch and directs them behind her, telling them there are Bothans.  They go to investigate; she cuts them down.  

The Biodisposal Pit is not intended for bodies, but Caedus needs to get this done quickly. He runs afoul of a medical droid that will not violate procedure.  After overriding it, he’s stunned when the droid verifies that that it’s normal procedure of collecting tissue files for identification is unnecessary: the samples have already been taken.

He realizes that Lecerson and the Moffs went behind his back.  The nanokiller is probably already on its way to the Dragon Queen.  He orders all launches from the Anakin stopped.  Too late, he learns that a missile boat has just launched overseen by a Remnant officer.  

He orders his StealthX prepared, only to be confronted by his sister and the lightsaber she shoves into him.

She is Force-pushed back, stunned to find that Caedus is still standing, albeit with a scorch-hole below his ribs.  He uses the Force to send lightning at her.  Jaina Force-pushes him through the door, then leaps up and goes after him.  They kick and block each other.

Looking for something to hurl at him, she is distracted long enough for him to punch her, breaking a bone in her cheek.  Finally, she tosses the medical droid at him.  After a quick parry, she knocks him over on to the conveyer belt where he is pinned by several syringes which barely seem to register.  

He attempts to snap her neck but she uses the Force to spin herself around to go with the turn, leaps toward him and swings her saber at his head and her toe at his chin.  He is sent tumbling over the conveyer belt.

Caedus tries to explain to her that she needs to get out of his way because he needs to save Tenel Ka and her daughter Allana.  She points out that it doesn’t look like he was able to save Isolder.  Caedus argues that Isolder would have and did make the same decision.  He doesn’t have time for this.

She jumps forward only to find him using the Force to propel her toward the open furnace door.  She pulls herself aside at the last second, but still rams against the burning heat of the furnace’s exterior.  Opening herself to the Force, she lets the power of her emotions – the love of who her brother used to be – flow through her.  When he tries to leave the disposal pit, she rams the door in his face.  He turns around, angrily, and spews Force lightning at her.  She leaps at him and he kicks her forearm, causing her wrist to break.  She know she’s dead if she loses this battle.

He burns her abdomen; she cuts the tendon of his ankle.  She whirls at him, her lightsaber ignited, ready for the kill, but he just stands there, looking up to the ceiling.  She plunges her lightsaber into his chest, only to feel him screaming through the Force at Tenel Ka to hurry and get her and Allana out of danger.  

Then he drops to Jaina’s feet.

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          •    I suppose Caedus could have tried to explain the danger coherently right off to Jaina, but I doubt she would have listened.

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chapter 19:

Jacen jokes that he can tell the difference between a Jedi Knight and a Jedi Master in twenty years.

Ben watches the Imperial Remnant ships destroy the former Jedi base.  It doesn’t really matter that there’s no one there and it’s just pointless destruction.  He and the others will just retreat further into the tunnels and other shafts that make up the mining world.  

Trista complains about not getting a chance to fight.  Taryn lectures her about worrying too much, then wishes Zekk was around.  Suddenly, Trista begins speaking into her microphone quickly and asking questions.

She reveals that there’s been an attack aboard the Dragon Queen that’s killed everyone of royal blood.  There are no other details.  The sisters pull out their blasters and ask Ben if he knows how to use his lightsaber.  

The women begin heading to an old mine with two guards at the mouth who look away when they arrive.  Entering the tunnel, Ben asks what that was about.  Trista tells him that the Megador has most of the Home Fleet held down at the station, so the space battle is mostly just the Dragon Queen and some of Ducha Requud’s ships.  There’s also some traffic between the]Anakin Solo and the Deserving Gem.

It makes sense the Moffs would be recruiting someone to take Tenel Ka’s place, but he was actually wondering why those guards ignored them.  Taryn tells him they turn invisible sometimes; she assumes Jedi do, too.

They arrive at General Livette’s command center.  Trista tells him to open a com chanenel to the Deserving Gem to speak to Ducha Requud.  The com’s audio only sounds a woman screaming for her life.  Trista explains that there will be no deals with the Moffs.  

Livette responds that no one here was aware that Ducha Requud was betraying them;  they are all loyal to the legitimate successor to Tenel Ka.  Taryn points out that, so long as they win the battle, there’s no reason to suspect the loyalty of anyone in the room.

They are shown reports of a female Jedi reaching their perimeter with elite stormtroopers.  Ben points out that it’s not a Jedi.  They think that the underground hangar where the Jedi were refueling their starfighters is the target.  Taryn will take Ben to look into it, while Trista stays here to make sure General Livette doesn’t put them in Ducha Requud’s unfortunate position.

On the way to the hangar, Taryn tells Ben that a nanokiller infected the [i]Dragon Queen[/i] after some prisoners were brought aboard.  It took down anyone with royal blood.  She’s coy with the details, but Ben is certain that Tenel Ka would have sensed danger and, keeping Allana with her, may have been able to save them.  

Taryn does concede that the Queen Mothers of Hapes do like things uncertain during times like this to root out anyone who might consider herself a successor.  

Into the night, they meet up with about a dozen commandos and begin the trip over difficult terrain.  When they are close to the objective, Taryn signals to slow down and takes Ben into a thicket at the edge of a terrace. They head down a slope until Ben can hear the sound of leaves and branches rubbing against armor.

He closes down the Force, knowing it’s a matter of time before Tahiri will sense Taryn and the commandos.  He sees her at the edge of the forest in front of the troopers, some of which are carrying a baradium warhead on a litter.  She orders them to bring up the penetration charges.  

All of it just makes Ben angry about how no one is surprised General Livette gave the Remnant this information; this is just expected.  He wonders if maybe Caedus is right about the galaxy needing an iron hand.

When Tahiri senses someone is coming, Taryn fires; Tahiri ducks and hits the detonator for the penetration charges.  The explosion pours dirt into the tunnel below that it just opens.  That’s when the Hapan commandos catch up and exchange fire with the stormtroopers.  Ben fires toward the warhead, forcing Tahiri to protect it.  Taryn throws two grenades into the mix, which detonate and cause the litter carrying the warhead to fall, the stormtrooper armor shredded and the shock wave carrying Tahiri into the trees.

She comes back quickly.  Ben ignites his lightsaber, but she leaps up and reaches her hand out ward the warhead.  He jumps after Tahiri as they both fall into the open shaft.  They lash out at each other with sabers and kicks as they fall.  

Finally, the warhead reaches the bottom, splashing into water.  They hit the water afterward, doused, cold.  But the sand that fell into the shaft following the explosion is making it hard for Ben to rise to the surface.  He pulls himself free in enough time to see Tahiri reaching for the control panel of the warhead.

He tells her not to do it. She’s not Sith material any more than he is.  She warns him he doesn’t have to get hurt.  Ben points out that a Sith wouldn’t care if he got hurt.  Tahiri tells him that she doesn’t like killing, but she won’t hesitate to do it.  He doesn’t think she’s a good liar either.  He’s going to take the detonator charge out of that warhead and he doesn’t think she’ll try to stop him.

She doesn’t.  

He asks her what she’s going to do now.  Caedus certainly won’t take her back.  She isn’t sure, but she’s definitely done with all Solos.  He reminds her that he was forgiven.  She counters that he’s a kid.  It will be much different with her.  He knows it will be different; it will take time.  He does promise, however, that she will be forgiven.  He offers to let her leave and tell the others she died or got away.  

Tahiri decides that she would like to leave the lies behind.  

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Interrum:

When Jaina was a pilot with Rogue Squadron during the Battle of Ithor, she was in her cabin, but couldn’t rest because her mind was on her wingmate, Anni Capstan, who’d been killed.

She wanted the painful emotions to go away, especially the guilt that she survived and Anni did not.  It was then that Jacen had arrived.  He didn’t ask her what was wrong;  he was her twin and already knew.  He just sat there and stroked her hair until she fell asleep.  He stayed with her all night because he knew that, if she woke up and he was gone, she wouldn’t be able to sleep.  She heard him whisper in her dreams that no one you love really ever has to die.  You just have to hold a place for them in your heart.
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chapter 20:

Jacen jokes that the difference between an Ewok and a Wookiee is about 200 kilos.

Han doubts that GAG commandos aboard the Anakin Solo would want to see Jedi StealthXs int the hangar, followed by the Millennium Falcoln, after Tenel Ka’s announcement.

The Falcon, guns manned by Jagged Fel and some senior apprentice named Derek, provide cover for the Jedi barrelling through the hangar, overcoming the GAG defenses.  
When the ship sets down, Han sees that Leia has the Look.  It was the same one she’d had when Anakin had died and when she thought that Luke was dead.  He has spent every minute since Jaina began her hunt that he would see that Look again.

He orders Threepio to load the baradium missile, vowing that, with the announcement of the death of Allana, he will not let anyone who was a part of this leave alive if Jaina is gone, too.

Leia touches his arm.  She tells him they have to hurry; Jaina’s still alive.  The Look is for Jacen.

They find her sitting on the floor of the disposal pit, holding Jacen’s head in her lap, telling him through the Force that he isn’t really dead because he will always have a place in her heart.  She can feel their Twin Bond again in this hazy world between wakefulness and death.

She hears Jagged Fel calling for the others to hurry and briefly wonders if she’s come to join her and Jacen which makes her feel sad.  She Force-pushes him away when he tries to move Jacen.  

He comes back more slowly, gives her a stim-shot and tells her that help is on the way.  As her mind clears, she asks him to find Zekk who was hit during the raid and has vanished.  She thanks him for getting here first;  she’s glad it was him.  

She also needs him to retrieve Mirta Gev who is upstairs.  

When her parents arrive, they try and fail to maintain their composure at the sight of their son’s lifeless body.  They do manage to treat her wounds temporarily.  She knows nothing will be normal again;  she’s become the Sword of the Jedi.  

When Cilghal arrives, Han tells Jaina that she will have to pull through as he doubts he and her mother can make it without her.  Jaina assures them they will.  Nothing can break their devotion to each other.  Leia agrees that it’s not likely, but she’s tired of having it tested so Jaina will have to listen to her father.

After Cilghal and Leia take Jaina to a Hapan healing center, Han remains behind to confront those responsible for the death of his granddaughter.  Along the way, he steps over the bodies of stormtroopers who had thrown away their lives following orders to hold the Anakin Solo’s Auxiliary Command Center, many of them younger than Jaina and Jacen.  

He and the Masters enter the room to find that many of the Moffs are still alive, albeit some of them are wounded and there is one smoking in the floor in two parts.

When Luke arrives, he tells them that they are probably aware that Darth Caedus is dead.  This leaves them with two choices:  they can become Hapan Prisoners of War and be charged with war crimes for committing a nanokiller attack against the Royal Family or they can join him and the Jedi in re-establishing the Galactic Alliance.  The latter choice doesn’t really appeal to him, but they need the Remnant’s support to end the war.

Moff Lecerson wants to know what the catch is.  Luke wants Jagged Fel to administer the Moff Council until the crisis is over.  Lecerson doesn’t oppose it, seeing as Fel as good imperial blood and because the alternative of an unpleasant death at the hands of the Hapans isn’t very appealing.

Luke tells Jag that he wanted it clear to the Moffs that this isn’t a power play on Fel’s behalf; only a service.  The other Moffs agree that it is in the best interest of everyone involved.  The Jedi will have problems convincing the GA Fleet that they’ve rejoined the Alliance and the Remnant Fleet will give the GA the leverage it needs to force the Confederation to negotiate.

Everyone is happy about this arrangement except Han who’s angry that Luke is just letting them change sides.  Luke assures him it’s the best thing for the galaxy, but does allow Han to address whatever it is needs closure.

Han demands to know whose idea it was to release the nanokiller.   One Moff looks worried, especially when the others nod their heads at him.  Han demands his name and the reason why he did it.  The Moff doesn’t think the information matter since his so-called friends have decided to make him the scapegoat.

Han is surprised that no one seems inclined to stop him from shooting the man.  Saba points out that there are plenty of Moffs.  He can kill two if he wants.  Luke agrees that no one will miss an extra Moff.  Han can do it if he thinks it will make him happy.

It won’t, of course.  Too many people were involved in this project to single out one person.  Han suggests that the Moff Council perhaps create a mission to help an impoverished world to begin paying back for the destruction they’ve caused.  

Tenel Ka thinks that’s a wonderful memorial for her daughter.  Han asks if she’s really okay with letting them off.  She admits she’s not.  But, as queen, she cannot allow her desire for vengeance to destroy the chance to end this war.  She does, however, warn the Moffs that their so-called indiscretion will not be forgotten.

She asks Han to come with her; there’s something she needs to tell him.
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Epilogue:

Jacen jokes that the Empire captured Gamorr without a firing a shot by landing backward and making the Gamorreans think they were retreating.

Jaina cannot understand why she didn’t believe Jacen when he’d tried to tell her he was trying to save Tenel Ka and Allana.  She should have sensed that he was telling the truth or at least looked for the tiny goodness left in him.

Her parents arrive.  They’ve found a few StealthX pieces floating around, but there’s no way to know if they’re from Zekk’s ship.  His rescue beacon doesn’t appear to have been triggered either, though the Mists are very thick in this area.  Nothing appears in the Force either. Luke promises they will keep looking.

Mirta Gev sends her thanks.  She and her husband are healing, but not on Mandalore.  The Moffs created a special strain of nanokiller for Fett and dumped it into Mandalore’s atmosphere.  Neither he nor Mirta can return home.

In the meantime, the war is over.  Jag is chairing the peace conference now.  They activate a screen to catch the last part of it and Jaina is stunned to see that Daala has been named the new Chief of State for the Galactic Alliance.  

It turns out that she was the only one everyone agreed upon, after Daala promised to leave the past where it is and as long as the Moff Council will be half female.

Daala addresses the galaxy by reminding them that everyone loses when they fight.  It’s time to find a new way so that everyone wins.  She promises that they will build navies to better lives, not defend them.  They will build a just society that doesn’t need Jedi to solve differences.  

Jaina wonders if this is what her brother sacrificed his life for, a better galaxy.  She tells her parents how he stopped fighting at the end so he could warn Tenel Ka.  Part of him became his old self again just for a moment.  

She should have given him more time. Perhaps Allana would still be alive.

Her parents look guilty.  Leia opens the door and a little girl enters.  Jaina catches a glimpse of her brother and Tenel Ka in her face.  Her hair is dyed black and cut short, her name is now Amelia and she is posing as a war orphan that has been placed in the guardianship of Han and Leia while she attends the Jedi Academy.  

Allana tells Jaina that she understands they are going to be sisters now.  
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  •  So there it is.  The end of Jacen Solo.  I’ve been over again and again the irresponsible and negligent lack of oversight that allowed him to go so far astray, sometimes rationalized along the way by his loved ones.  
  • Really?  Allana is now Amelia?  And she’s going to be raised by someone other than her mother?  After what happened to the Solo kids, is this really a good idea?
  • And how did Allana survive anyway?  I assume Jacen’s warning reached Tenel Ka in time, but details would be great!


 

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