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"Outcast": Book 1 in the Fate of the Jedi series


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Darkness is eternal, all-powerful, unchangeable.  She stares unblinking and afraid, determined that it not claim her as she’s resisted it for years.  Nevertheless, the Force has said that change will take place.
 
chapter 1:
 
Above Coruscant, the Gilad Pellaeon has arrived from the Imperial Remnant.  Jaina Solo waits with several others in a government shuttle, watching.  She can’t help but think this is just a bunch of show.
 
When the Imperial Head of State, Jagged Fel, disembarks, Jaina greets him and introduces her companion, Senator Tiurrg Drey’lye of Bothawui. 
 
After a couple of hours, Jag is able to convince the Senator and his entourage to take a tour of the ship so he can have a private consultation with the Jedi representative.  Once the door is closed, sealed and restricted, they fall into a kiss.
 
Jag tells her he’s here in part to ask for a Jedi presence in the Empire.  It’s not really for protection. He’s had the job for two years and isn’t dead yet.  Jaina isn’t sure the Empire can have a Jedi presence without Alliance approval. 
 
He reminds her the training academy is in Hapan space despite the Hapans not rejoining the GA.  Jaina tells him that the government may withhold permission just to spite the Remnant not joining.  Besides, it’s just a matter of time and money to move the school back to Alliance space.
 
She thinks he just want to have an excuse to have her assigned to set it up.  He tells her that it would be helpful for the Moffs to get used to the woman he loves.
 
It is morning on Coruscant.  Corran and Mirax Horn are going to be giving depositions at the Unification Summit on the state of the relationships between the Galactic Alliance and the other galaxy governments. 
 
On this morning, Valin Horn wakes up, walks into the kitchen and greets his mother.  Except, she’s not his mother.  There’s no danger in the Force, but that doesn’t mean the real Mirax Horn isn’t in trouble.
 
The facts are that his mother has been replaced by an imposter who looks just like her.  She could be a volunteer who underwent surgery, a clone, a droid or a shapeshifter.  He can’t tell what tipped him off, worries his father and sister might not be able to see through the deception and wonders if he would be judged insane if he can’t prove it.
 
He runs to his room, finds his lightsaber is still there and intact and goes back into the dining room with it. .  He ignites it and shrivels his hotcakes, warning the fake Mirax that flesh does the same thing.  Mirax asks him what’s wrong.
 
He demands to know what she’s done with his mother.  Corran Horn arrives and tells him to put the blade down.  Except it’s not Valin’s father either.  Fearing his parents are dead, he lunges with the lightsaber.
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          •    The time is now 43.5 years ABY.  Luke and Leia are about 63, Han is about 73, Jaina is almost 35. 
 

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chapter 2:
 
Valin is devastated to see that the Fake Corran is using his father’s lightsaber.  He tries to slash at his opponent’s head, but is kicked backward onto the sink.  Not wanting the imposters to have time to call reinforcements, he kicks out the wall into the living area, jumps onto a speeder and demands the pilot’s comlink.
 
The Fake Corran jumps onto the deck, yelling at the tourists that the man is not well.    He seems reluctant to take openings that Valin is giving him, proving he’s studied the real Corran well.  Valin admits he admires the attempt to show he can do everything but telekinesis.
 
Then he’s hit from behind by his mother’s airspeeder that she’s rammed into him.
 
In the Senate building, Luke Skywalker attends the Unification Summit with his 16-year old son, Ben.  Ben notes the Hapans aren’t here.  Luke explains they were invited, but the request didn’t make them look important enough, so they will probably attend a later summit.
 
Leia Organa Solo leans over and tells Ben that the slight was probably deliberate despite the diplomatic corps’ assurances that it wasn’t.  The GA doesn’t want the presence of the Hapans to minimize the importance of the Imperial Remnant.
 
Chief of State Natasi Daala is at the table, having done a good job over the last few years of restoring normalcy in the wake of the economic and political upheaval of the Second Galactic Civil War.  Jagged Fel, Head of State of the Imperial Remnant, is next to her.  Turr Phennir is the Supreme Military Commander of the Confederation and the closest they have to a leader right now.
 
Luke hadn’t noticed until now that all three are Imperials.  He’d fought them for decades and now they are in charge of everything.  Leia notes she thought of that two years ago.  There wasn’t anything she could do about it, though.  The symbolism doesn’t change who they are inside.  After all, Crix Madine, Mon Mothma, Jan Dodonna and even herself served the Empire.
 
Still, that doesn’t mean the good people up there want the same things Luke and Leia want.  She wonders if Palpatine’s ghost is laughing at them right now.
 
Over the years, Luke has tried to convince himself that the definition of an Imperial has changed over the years.  While the Moff and sector governors are still as self-serving as they were decades ago, most of the military men and women are people who want an orderly society more governed than the Alliance.
 
Kyp Durron, Jaina, Han, Kam and Tionne Solusar are here.  The Horns are not.  Luke wonders what happened to them.
 
Two hours later, the party steps out into the sunlight.  Luke turns on his comlink which beeps several times.  Jaina’s is doing the same.  Luke feels a ripple in the Force.  Jaina and the Masters feel the same sense of disquiet.
 
Luke tells Ben to blend in with the crowd and call Nawara Ven. 
 
Four nearby personnel carriers swing by them, troops step out, exposing several civilians inside. Luke assumes they are bounty hunters.  A GA captain approaches Luke with a warrant for his arrest.
 
Luke cooperates, but hands his lightsaber to Leia who points out to the arresting officer that the warrant will not specify the lightsaber.  Clearly, the bounty hunters want a fight.  When one of them accusing the very compliant Luke of resisting, the other Jedi ignite their lightsabers to protect their Grand Master.  A nervous young security officer fires, his both deflected by Kam Solusar and his weapon destroyed by Han’s blaster.
 
One of the civilians in the truck, a woman holding a lightsaber, smiles, and holds the Quarren bounty hunter at bay.  The officer makes them all put their weapons down, but lets a non-Jedi, Han, accompany Luke.
 
Inside the truck, they hear the officer berate the young trooper for his firing mishap.  When he gets inside and the trucks take off, Han asks the troopers if any are interested in a sabacc game.
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          •    The chapter mentions the Solusars are recovered from the mutilations they received at the hands of the GA in the Legacy of the Force series.
          •    I’m sure we remember former Rogue Squadron pilot and attorney Nawara Ven from the X-Wing series.
 

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chapter 3:
 
Luke is taken to a GA security building, searched, holorecorded and put in a solitary confinement cell alone.  After a long period of time, Nawara Ven enters.  He doesn’t have good news.
 
Though Luke had thought the GA was charging him with dereliction of duty over leading fighter squadrons against the Alliance during the war, trying to topple Jacen, Nawara tells him that they are actually referring to his failure to recognize the moral and ethical degeneration of Jacen that led to his abuse of power.  In a way, he’s being held responsible for everything Jacen did during his short time in charge.
 
Luke feels hurt, knowing that some of that is valid.  He should have recognized Jacen’s excesses for what they were, but many others didn’t either.  Some had, though.  Ben wasn’t listened to.  Mara had chosen not to reveal her concerns and died because of it.  He does blame himself for her death.
 
Nawara thinks they can beat the charge anything.  It’ll just be harder and require more mudslinging.  To be honest, everyone associated with Jacen bears some responsibility for what he did, including several people in the wartime government who aren’t being charged.  He believes that Luke is being singled out because he’s the head of the Jedi Order.
 
He goes on to explain that not everyone recognizes the accomplishments of the Jedi the way he does.  From a military point of view, they are irritants.  The Alliance’s military leaders don’t like resources they can’t control.  Chief of State Daala may be behind this, but she has a lot of support.
 
If Luke mounts a successful defense, a lot of dirt is going to be spread around that will cost the Jedi support.  The GA might offer to let Luke go free and run the Jedi under the supervision of the government, they might keep him in prison or they might let him run off into hiding and hope he fouls up.
 
This has been in the works for awhile.  The timing of the arrest was done to send a message to those who are considering rejoining the Alliance that the Jedi are being reined in.  This probably explains why the Hapans were manipulated into staying away, so that Queen Mother Tenel Ka would not be here to show her dissatisfaction.
 
Luke isn’t sure the Jedi can or should change the way they operate.  They serve a higher cause than the Galactic Alliance.  It is not characterized by self-interest the way military and civilian authorities often are.  Nawara reminds him that history has shown that individual Jedi often demonstrate selfish and destructive impulses.  Like Jacen Solo, they just stop calling themselves Jedi.
 
He does suggest Luke change his standard black garments into something more cheerful and that doesn’t remind the judge of Jacen.
 
Leia, Han and Ben wait at the arraignment where Luke is released on his own recognizance with instructions to appear at hearings later. 
 
At the Jedi Temple’s medical center, Valin Horn is strapped to a gurney while Cilghal does neurological scans on him.  She explains to his family, Luke, Leia and Ben that Valin is delusional, believing that everyone he knows has been replaced by an imposter.
 
Leia remembers how Seff Hellin went on and on about Mandos when they encountered him on Taris.  Cilghal shows them a scan of Valin’s brain that is comparable to a dead person, but he is not dead. 
 
Luke admits he’s seen this type of scan before while Jacen was being scanned during the Killik crisis.  He wonders if Jacen taught it to Valin.  Jysella explains that Jacen didn’t run in the same circles she and her brother did.  While he was out fighting the Vong, they were hidden at the Shelter in the Maw for most of the time.  They didn’t see him at all for years after that and, even then, not much.
 
Valin and Seff studied together at the Maw, but they weren’t close.  Luke notes that Seff knew a technique that Jacen had learned, too.  Since Luke didn’t teach it to them, it might be a good start to try to fill in the gaps in Jacen’s missing years.

Cilghal admits there’s nothing she can do to help Valin right now.  They need psychological experts, lab work and a complete brain scan.  Luke asks Ben to look into the bounty hunters they encountered.

Cilghal assures the Horns that Valin will be monitored by her staff and should be secure sufficiently to keep him from escaping.  

Even in his state, Valin is alert, knowing they don’t know what he can do.  He looks through the Force and found insects.   Searching, he seeks for ones he can convince to eat through a little bit of one of the straps holding him.

In the middle of the night, Cilghal comms Luke to tell him the Valin is gone.  Of all days, it has to be this one.  They don’t know where he went, but they had put a tracker inside him in case this happened.  He’s harder to track now since he’s in the undercity and the signal isn’t consistent.  Luke orders all the Knights assembled, for Han and Leia to be called and to leave the Horns out of it.

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          •    Valin learned how to influence insects as a boy in the Dark Tide book Onslaught.

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chapter 4:
 
Seha glares at the Senate building watching people arrive and none of them are Valin.  Octa Ramis sits with her, admonishing Seha that she’s not calm.  That makes her less alert. 
 
Octa asks if she has a crush on him.  Seha says she did once, but she’s more embarrassed that she once had one on Jacen Solo.  Octa tells her not to be embarrassed.  Jacen was once a thoughtful person and quite good-looking.  She herself used to have a crush on his father. 
 
Seha doesn’t think it’s a good idea for her to develop these types of attachments after what happened to Jacen and now to Valin.  Octa tells her how she used to love a Jedi who was tortured by the Yuuzhan Vong and drowned fighting them.  She didn’t stop loving or caring.
 
Seha finds something on her tracker.
 
Enneth Holkin is the aide to Denjax Teppler, co-Chief of State of Corellia .  He walks along to the Senate building, holding his panic ring just in case right before he’s kicked in the jaw.
 
Valin Horn takes the man’s clothes and bag, ignoring the metal ring on the topcoat.
 
Security at the Senate picks up data on Enneth Holkin and his entire record.  An agent heads out to find a man lying on the ground in his underclothes, still alive.  He calls in an alert. 
 
A few seconds later, he learns that a popular, but controversial entertainer, is leaving with the Senator of Commenor.  A member of the Imperial Remnant delegation happens to be there for no good reason.  Valin Horn is on level two.  Octa Ramis is walking with a young woman to the entrance.  The agent has no instructions about media stars or senators, but he does have very new orders about Jedi.
 
He calls the Special Operations office of the Chief of State.
 
The guard at the Senate building is not helpful.  Neither is the other.  There’s a lockdown and they aren’t weak-willed enough for the Jedi Mind Trick to work.  Octa and Seha know Valin is here somewhere and start searching for him through the Force. 
 
A shuttle suddenly comes crashing through, clipping both wings and heads to the permacrete.  Octa rushes after it.  Then another sound is heard and an X-Wing comes from the hangar, slamming against Octa who grabs at the nose.
 
Valin is in the cockpit, staring in surprise. 
 
The shuttle comes down on the plaza.  Octa thrusts her weapon against the canopy of the X-Wing.  Valin doesn’t make it easy by his flying, but she does manage to sheer a hole in it.  She slips off as he lifts up at a high altitude.  Jedi techniques for slow falling weren’t going to help here.
 
When she wakes up, she finds she doesn’t even have a broken bone. Seha is very good at telekinesis and caught her partly.  Valin got away but he won’t be able to make space.  Others will have bring him back to the ground.
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          •    Octa Ramis was introduced in Ruin.  Her lover was Miko Reglia who died in Vector Prime.
          •    Seha Dorvald first appeared in Exile and was the girl who was helping Jacen by giving him information and sneaking things in and out of the Temple.
          •    I see Denjax Teppler is still a bigwig on Corellia.  They really went with that co-Chief of State thing there?  That was being discussed during the Legacy of the Force series.
 
 

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chapter 5:
 
Han brings the Falcon around, while Leia monitors comm. traffic.  Valin has been found.  He’s in an X-Wing with a hole in the cockpit.  He keeps changing course, but Leia has a line on him.  Han knows the course changes are to confuse any pursuers.  He knows exactly where Valin is going.  If the kid stole a starfighter, he wants to make space.  He can’t do that in a ship with a hole in it, so he’s going to the spaceport to steal another one.
 
Luke and Ben are on their way there, too.  Ben points out there are a lot of vehicles at the spaceport, including the media, Jaina and one of the bounty hunters.  A rarely-seen Skakoan.  Somehow, everyone knows where Valin is which means comm. channels are open and being monitored.  This has to be Daala’s people’s doing.
 
Upon spotting the X-Wing, Luke stands up and leaps across the air onto the nose of the ship.  Valin pops the canopy and ejects.
 
Leia tells Han to go after Valin, but Han tells her that Luke won’t have enough controls left to land the X-Wing.  They’ll have to help him first.
 
Jaina watches Valin and heads toward him in her airspeeder.  Master Kyle Katarn is with her, pointing out that, if she’s planning to catch him in the speeder when he falls, she should know that a nearby cargo hauler appears to have the same idea.
 
Valin begins dropping, relishing the look on the Fake Luke Skywalker’s face when he’d ejected.  He pulls his lightsaber when the cargo hauler maneuvers itself beneath him.  He unbuckles himself and flips off the pilot seat before it reaches the hauler.
 
There are two bounty hunters waiting there with their YVH combat droid.  An airspeeder passes by, dropping a Jedi, lightsaber out, toward him.
 
Jaina lands right where Valin had just been, warning the bounty hunters not to try anything.  The Quarren fires at her with an electrical charge net that hits her and separates her from her Force powers.  She falls over and drops into empty space.
 
Valin, having pulled the ejection seat over the cargo hauler at the last second, rides it down until he finds a news crew speeder.  A reporter asks him if he’s on a rampage.  Valin tells her to get him out of here and he’ll give her a great scoop.
 
A speeder flashes by the cargo hauler, causing the driver to veer quickly, knocking the Quarren over the side, his female companion nearly so and doing nothing to the YVH.
 
Luke flips into the cockpit, asks the astromech to kill the thrusters and leave the repulsors running.  Ben comes alongside him in his speeder, telling him where Valin is.  Luke leaves the X-Wing to the droid and leaps back to Ben.
 
Leia watches all this with disbelief.  Han moves the Falcon after the news speeder and the cargo hauler following it, telling Leia to take the belly lasers if the YVH causes a problem.
 
Having been caught by Master Katarn who is now driving, Jaina shouts to get this thing off of her.  Kyle is driving, though, and is pursuit of Valin.  The cargo hauler is towing the Quarren along who is clutching at a cable. 
 
He finally releases Jaina.
 
The news speeder finally reaches the edge of the business district and changes lanes, follows by the cargo hauler with the frantically clinging Quarren, the airspeeder with Kyle and Jaina, the Millennium Falcon, Luke and Ben, and a swarm of speeders with Jedi, security, media and bounty hunters.
 
The YVH finally opens fire only to be destroyed by the Falcon.  Jaina spots another speeder with a couple of bounty hunters in it which angles forward.  The passenger begins firing at the news speeder, damaging it.
 
Luke knows Valin will abandon it soon.  He has Ben bring them alongside the speeder, jumps onto the other vehicle and cuts through the hilt of the saber Valin swiped from the apprentice who was watching him.  Luke knocks Valin out with the hilt of his own weapon.
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chapter 6:
 
The pilot of news speeder lands with most of the other ships alongside it.  Jaina, Kyle and Ben join Luke to hold back everyone else.  Kyp Durron and Doran Tainer arrive with other Jedi behind them.
 
The female bounty hunter and her Rodian passenger land.  Her name is Zilaash Kuh and she has orders from the Chief of State to take the Jedi into custody.  A legal argument erupts over who has jurisdiction over Valin.  Cilghal is able to sedate him, but no one is allowed to carry him out.
 
Captain Savar appears.  Hoping he can be of help, Luke suggests that he escort them back to the Temple and observe while they study Valin to see what’s wrong.  Savar isn’t comfortable with letting the Jedi study a prisoner belonging to GA security.  Leia proposes a compromise in taking Valin to Mon Mothma Memorial Medical Center as a netural site with both Jedi and GA security to watch him. 
 
Sadly, all that can be done for hours is watch the news feeds which show Valin’s outburst the previous day, the theft of the X-Wing and shuttle, different angles of the speeder chase and several shots of Jedi with lightsabers looking menacing.  Luke’s arrest is touched on while many commentators muse as to why Valin wasn’t turned over to security the day before.
 
Though the Jedi Order itself is portrayed as being made up of entitled superbeings, little criticism is directed at Luke himself who is too well-loved to be attacked very badly.  Still, he’s portrayed as being kind, but out-of-touch with the modern sensibility.
 
Leia tells Luke he’ll have to prepare for a fight.
 
The doctors find exactly what Cilghal had.  The next day, the number of people watching Valin are reduced.  The Horns stay with their son.  Luke returns to his duties.
 
As a case is prepared against Valin and dockets are cleared to make way for Luke’s first hearing, Nawara Ven warns that the prosecutors are going to exploit this incident.  He explains that the public is still recovering from a terrible war that only worsened by the actions of Jacen Solo.  They want someone to be held accountable for him, to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. 
 
Public sentiment shows that they are responding to the anti-Jedi newscasts.  Jedi are booed in public, speaking engagements canceled, investigations impeded through lack of cooperation, conspiracy theorists gain popularity all while Valin Horn sleeps.
 
The Unification Summit proceeds with a stronger show of support from the Remnant and the Confederation.
 
A week later, Luke walks the halls of the Temple during the night, finally making some quick calls before heading to the Senate building.  There, he meets with Chief of State Daala, telling her he had a leaning from the Force that he should be meeting with her.
 
Though he detects no aggression or strong emotions in her, Luke does have to assure her that he does not think she is an imposter. 
 
Daala tells him that she has always respected him.  The legal action isn’t personal and she readily agrees that his contributions to the galaxy have been beneficial.  Luke thinks she wants the Jedi to be a mindlessly obedient branch of the government.
 
He points out that not being able to detect a Jedi slowly turning evil is really comparable to not seeing the slow descent of an Imperial into the callousness needed to destroy an entire planet as an example.
 
Knowing that he’s speaking of Tarkin, Daala grows still.  Luke knows that her respect for Tarkin was left behind a long time ago after his atrocities were committed, but he also knows she’s trying to exchange blows here.
 
Daala tells him it’s not about that either, but will likely come up at the trial as evidence of the charges against him.  She tells Luke that the Jedi, under his leadership, have a history of subverting the rule of law.
 
She points to how Jedi often deal with altercations by pulling out their lightsabers and maiming people.  Surely the Force offers them better ways of handling a problem than cutting off arms.  Luke explains that the Force alerts a Jedi as to the true danger of a situation. 
 
Daala argues that the Force can’t be called to testify about the things it tells a Jedi.  Or a Sith, for that matter, as the Force also speaks to Sith.  Assuming that the Jedi in question is only listening to the light side of the Force, the fact is that they are using lethal force, leaving  the state responsible for funding prosthetics and physical rehabilitation while getting minimal cooperation from the Jedi themselves.
 
Jedi like Seff Hellin take off and never report back to the authorities for a full statement.  This may seem minor, but it’s frustrating to law enforcement because it shows the Jedi are above the law.  She refuses to accept that they have to trust the Jedi are making the right decision.
 
She takes Luke back 30 years to how Kyp Durron killed everyone on Carida.  Was his crime mitigated by the fact that the Imperial system in question belonged to the New Republic’s enemy?  Yet Luke forgave Kyp and welcomed him back solely on the basis that he has some mystical ability to see into the hearts of people and decide if they are going to be good people or bad people.  The Jedi don’t answer to the citizens they claim to protect, they don’t pay for their mistakes and only obey laws when they are convenient.  This is wrong and would rightly label them a criminal organization if they were anything other than Jedi.
 
Without the Force, that’s exactly what they would be.  Luke knows this.  He now sees what the Force brought him here to see.  The process of setting the Jedi up as being above the law could become toxic and encourage abuse.
 
He sees how young Jedi would assume that Kyp didn’t suffer at all for his crimes.  They would have to take Luke’s word that Darth Vader died a Jedi and not a Sith.  They would see their masters getting away with things and assume they had the right, too.
 
He asks if she’s going to prosecute Kyp next.  Daala tells him she’s not, but the Imperial Remnant has presented her with a request for extradition so he can be charged by them.  She would rather not if there was a better example made.
 
Luke sees that there is a way to deal with this now.
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          •    Much of what Daala tells Luke is what Fyor Rodan tried to tell him in Destiny’s Way.

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chapter 7:
 
In the Hall of Justice on Coruscant, Luke watches the proceedings before the judge announces that there is a negotiated agreement that has been approved by all parties.  The revised list of charges has been reduced to reckless endangerment of a population.  Luke pleads guilty.  His sentence is to be exiled from Coruscant for no less than ten years beginning the next day.
 
He will not act as Grand Master or have a position of authority or consultation with the Jedi Order. He cannot approach any world that has a Jedi facility or school upon it.  He cannot establish any news facilities that are used or could be used after his sentence is over.
 
Kenth Hamner will take over his duties and Luke cannot have any influence over him. A violation will result in his incarceration in a maximum-security facility for the rest of his sentence.
 
His sentence can be commuted if, during his exile, he can demonstrate to a board of inquiry that he has determined the nature of the events that caused Jacen Solo’s destructive behavior.
 
Leia is determined to fight it, but Luke tells her that he agreed to this already. 
 
That evening, he convenes the Jedi Masters’ Council.  He is withdrawing as Grand Master until he is able to return to Coruscant.  Kenth Hamner will be taking his place.  He wants no wild parties in here.
 
Hamner isn’t excited, but they all know that his military career appeals to Daala. 
 
While Luke is gone, he plans to determine what brought Jacen to the Dark Side and set up guidelines to help determine when the same thing is happening to someone else.  He may even be able to find out what’s happening to Valin and Seff.  He will be starting by retracing Jacen’s travels during the five years he was gone.
 
Hamner will set up an account for him on a world not part of the GA.  Luke will be taking Mara’s ship. 
 
Ben decides he’s coming with his father.  He was Jacen’s apprentice and won’t be able to rest until he learns the reason why either.  Luke knows he’s right.
 
He leaves his room largely unchanged as he packs.  Cilghal arrives to tell him that she’s found some references to the odd behavior matching Valin and Seff.  Jedi Master Plo Koon was a Kel Dor and did an interview with a Jedi Knight who was creating a documentary about the different species with the Jedi Order.  He explained that his order knows how to keep an electroencephaloscan at bay, but it involved not demonstrating that their brains were functional.
 
The documentary was never completed, but Plo Koon’s references to his order seem off.  He wouldn’t have been talking about the Jedi Order, not to another Jedi anyway, and there is no other reference to this ability in the archives.  Luke is familiar with the Jedi Master and those who were contemporaries of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
 
He speculates that Plo Koon might have studied with the Baran Do Sages before joining the Jedi.  He might as well start there.
 
Cilghal offers to continue searching the archives and sending information to him.  After all, he is not allowed to advice, but there is no restriction on him being advised by someone else.
 
Before he leaves, he finds the grand chamber filled with every Jedi available, from those he personally trained in the very beginning to apprentices whose names he barely knows.  The Masters are here, non-Jedi friends he’s made, such as Wedge, Jagged Fel and Talon Karrde, as well as Jaina, Han and Leia. 
 
Kenth reminds him that this Order exists today because of Luke.  Remove Luke from the history and everything looks much different.  He’s not alone. 
 
Han and Leia will be taking care of Artoo. Jaina assures Luke that Daala will end up with a mess she can’t solve and realize how much she needs Luke soon enough.
 
At the Jade Shadow, the systems are checked, supplies are loaded and the two passengers board, lifting off from Coruscant.
 
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          •    Well, Luke’s exile should be quick then because Leia can tell the court all about Jacen’s fall, right? She did a fairly accurate job of explaining it to Allana in Millennium Falcon, after all. 
          •    And, even if Leia can’t provide detail, Luke really should.  Let’s look at what Luke knows about Jacen.  He knows that Jacen was tortured by the Yuuzhan Vong under the supervision of Vergere who introduced a very relativistic thinking to Jacen.  That was a type of thinking that Luke’s own Jedi Order embraced for several years after the Vong war ended and that Luke finally started phasing out around the time of the Dark Nest trilogy when he saw the problems with it.  He knows that Jacen had visions of the future that he felt he could interpret accurately.  He knows that Jacen spent five years reinforcing his multiple-paths philosophy by traveling all over the galaxy studying with other Force users.  He knows that Jacen had a secret relationship with Tenel Ka that produced a child whose paternity was kept hidden due to the danger. He knows that Jacen was being manipulated by Lumiya.  He should know that Jacen was working with Lumiya, though we really have no evidence that Ben ever told him that. So, how’s this for a reason to present to the board of inquiry:  After his torture at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong, Jacen Solo embraced a philosophy that taught that the ends justified the means, expanded by his travels among other Force users that strengthened his abilities,  increasing his willingness to do whatever it took to achieve a desired result, which was manipulated by the Sith Lady Lumiya who preyed upon Jacen’s fears for the future, augmented by visions, particularly those related to a secret daughter he was desperate to protect.  Sound accurate?
          •    How did Luke learn all about those Jedi living around the time of Obi-Wan?  The chapter specifically mentions Plo Koon and Qui-Gon Jinn. This was information we never had evidence still existed, much less that Luke knew about.
          •    Ben was never Jacen’s apprentice.  We’ve been over this again and again.  At least, he was not an official apprentice.
 

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chapter 8:
 
After Luke leaves, Valin is released from custody and returned to the Jedi.  At the Temple, he is put under Cilghal’s care.  The bounty hunters are being referred to in the media as a type of special missions force that answers to the Chief of State.
 
 Master Hamner calls a meeting of the Masters that also includes several influential Knights, such as Leia and Jaina.  He explains that there seems to be a certain ignorance about the public concerning the Jedi.  He is hoping to demystify them by having a Master-Apprentice team be the subject of a documentary.  He is hoping that they will look more sympathetic.
 
Octa Ramis volunteers.  Hamner tells them that he was approached by a producer who wanted to create a holodrama that sounds like a bunch of mindless entertainment, but he thinks it will work in their favor. The crew does not have permission to peruse the archives or film in the Temple, but he will ask a Master to serve as a technical advisor.  Kyp Durron’s volunteering for this assignment wins Hamner a bet.
 
Finally, the bad news is that the government is insisting that Jedi be accompanied by observers.  One per each team and per Jedi operating on their own.  They will not have access to the secure areas of the Temple, but will be able to be with the Jedi most of the time.
 
For right now, Nawara is working on a suit to strike down the measure, but, until then, they will have to endure.
 
The next morning, C-3PO wakes Han and Leia up with news that Lando is comming from offworld.  Groundquakes on Kessel are increasing in strength and frequency.  Lando still has his operation there.  Han encourages him to give up on it, but there’s still profitability there.  It’s the only source of glitterstim anywhere.
 
Han doesn’t want to go, but Leia insists.  He reminds her that they have Allana to think about.  Leia realizes she hadn’t considered what to do with Allana.  With Jaina leading a dangerous life and Luke and Ben gone, she decides they will take her with them.
 
Han points out that they both agreed they could drag the child all over the place solving other people’s problems.  Leia knows this, but she is frustrated at not being able to help Luke or solve this bureaucratic nightmare that’s going on.  They can, however, help a friend.
 
If they leave now, they can avoid being assigned their government spy.  That’s going to be better for them and Allana all around.
 
Jag and Jaina arrive at a tall building near the Temple to visit Tahiri Veila who is living on her own now. She admits she thought about coming by the Temple to bid Luke farewell, but doubted she’d have been welcome.
 
When told they’ve come to get an idea of Jacen’s thought processes in order to help Luke, Tahiri tells them that people have been coming to her for the last two years for that.  They’re all Jedi, government investigators, doctors and the press.  She wasn’t able to help them either.
 
At this time, she doesn’t have any friends.  Jaina doubts she will make any more if she’s determined to be a bounty hunter.  She urges Tahiri to come back to the Temple.  Tahiri won’t until she knows who she is.  For years, she’s been other things to other people.  She needs to get rid of all of her previous identities and learn to think.
 
Tahiri doesn’t think it matters when Jacen turned.  She thinks he actually broke.  When that happened is a mystery.  It could have happened in childhood when he was abandoned with his siblings to nannies and droids.  It could have happened during the Vong war.  It could have happened at some unknown point when he decided the galaxy was a terrible place and he needed to do terrible things to fix it.
 
Lumiya may have shaped him, but he was broken already by the variety of circumstances he’d experienced.  Just as Tahiri’s experiences have broken her each time, Jacen had those little moments that led to him being shaped by outside forces. 
 
Jaina embraces Tahiri on the way out.  At the turbolift, Jag admits he cannot forgive her so easily for killing a man he respected.  Jaina knows the loss of Admiral Pellaeon stung, but she can’t be sure that it was the woman sitting in there now who killed him or the person she was two years ago.
 
Jag thinks they’re both linked.  She can’t absolve herself of responsibility just because she realized she was wrong.  Jaina points out that neither have been through the type of experience that would damage their core selves the way she did.  In her situation, either of them might be capable of the same thing.
 
Jag thinks the Jedi put too much faith in redemption.  Jaina hopes she never makes a really big mistake in front of him, then.
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          •    I could point out that Jaina’s dark journey after the death of Anakin and having to kill her own brother could be considered breaking points.  Jagged also spent two years marooned on Tenupe running around after crazy Alema Rar, knowing he couldn’t go back to his family.  Not the same as Vong-shaping, I know, but still…
          •    Just because someone is no longer following the same philosophy they did a couple of years ago should not mean that person shouldn’t be held accountable for his or her crimes while operating under that philosophy.  Yes, Tahiri was being manipulated by Jacen for some of the LotF series, but she still knew that murdering Admiral Pellaeon was breaking many laws and still did it.
 

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chapter 9:
 
Jaina goes over all the data Ben assembled on the bounty hunters.  The Quarren is Dhidal Nyz who specializes in inventing capture/imprisonment technologies.  Zilaash Kul has no criminal record, but carries a Jedi lightsaber modeled after Obi-Wan Kenobi’s which was thought lost when the Death Star exploded.  The Skakoan is Hrym Mawaar, a bounty hunter of several decades. The YVH droid turns out to be a human in disguise.  His name is Vrannin Vaxx, mercenary from Dorvalla who had served well in the Vong war but was burned and maimed during a shuttle crash late in the war.  He uses the droid body as a type of cybernetic shell.
 
Jaina is interrupted by a chime.  She calls for the person to enter and watches her dead brother, Anakin, walk into the room.  He re-introduces himself as Dab Hantaq who had been used by Viqi Shesh during the war in an attempt to kidnap the infant Ben.
 
He explains that he has been assigned her observer.  He is a licensed investigator and a documentarian.  He understands that she may feel awkward with him as her observer.  Her name came up randomly in the drawing, so he offers to put in for someone else.
 
Jaina tells him this whole process isn’t going to work.  She won’t let him record anything that could be turned into the government.  He tells her he’ll be in the waiting room Master Hamner has set up.  She’s supposed to tell him if she leaves the Temple and he has to check in on her at random intervals to be sure she hasn’t.
 
Jaina does not believe she was saddled with her dead brother’s ringer by chance.
 
Tahiri gets a chime at the door to find an elderly officer named Commander Trinnolt Makken of the Imperial Navy.  He’s been assigned her observer.  She reminds him she’s not a Jedi.  He points out the order applies to Sith, too.  She insists she’s neither and won’t let him in.
 
Jaina confronts Hamner about her observer, but the Master is more concerned about the whereabouts of her mother.  While she goes on about how Dab can’t help it and that it would be a good idea if her parents not see him, Hamner tries to find out where Han might be to find Leia or where they should have Dab avoid going so they won’t see him.
 
She drags him to the waiting room and shows him the man that looks just like her dead brother.  She wants a change immediately, asking Hamner how he’d like to be followed around by a dead relative. 
 
He tells her she has her mother’s smart mouth, but this is important.  He needs to know where Leia is.  The Millennium Falcon took off this morning with both Solos and their ward.  A message was left to contact Lando Calrissian at Tendrando Arms, but Calrissian can’t be reached either.
 
Having had enough of Jaina’s lack of help, he moves on.
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          •    Dab Hantaq was a child who looked so much like Anakin Solo that corrupt Senator Viqi Shesh used him to manipulate the Solos into taking him with them when they evacuated Coruscant at the end of Star by Star so she could kidnap the infant Ben Skywalker.  He used the name Tarc then.  Dab then joined the legendary holodocumentarian Wolam Tser during the Enemy Lines duology.  It was never made clear whether or not Dab naturally looked just like Anakin Solo, something that surely would have changed as he got older, or if he had been surgically altered to look like him.
          •    Skakoans have come up a couple of times here.  They are the species represented by Wat Tambor of the Techno Union during Attack of the Clones.
 

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chapter 10:
 
The Millennium Falcon lands on Kessel.  While Allana plays with Chance, the adults talk.  Tendra tells them how she, Lando and Nien Nunb are equal partners here at Kessel.  The downside is that there’s no real government here to help them out when things go wrong and that they stand to lose a lot of money when that happens.
 
When the glitterstim supply runs out, it will not only create a medical crisis for those who need the drug for legitimate health needs, but also cause a huge problem with addicts who will try to find a replacement.
 
The first quakes started the day Centerpoint Station was destroyed.  They’ve gotten worse and no one knows what’s causing them.  There are natural caverns down below the mines that have collapsed which could be causing some of the problems. 
 
Leia doesn’t understand how there could be caverns if Kessel has never had any water to dig them.  Lando can only guess the energy spiders dug them so they would have a place to spin their webs without light hitting them, but she doubts they evolved on the surface with photoreactive webs and dug out cave systems after figuring out the light destroyed the webs while waiting for prey to come down.  They had to have been down there originally and for a long time.
 
She wonders why Lando hadn’t put money down to determining some of the mysteries of this planet a long time ago.  He admits they probably need an archeological team here to investigate the strange tombs that attract the few large avian creatures that live here.  Until then, he’d like Han and Leia to go down there and figure out what his science teams couldn’t.
 
Han doesn’t want to go in those tunnels again, but agrees so long as they are given a vehicle with sophisticated sensors and non-energy weapons.  Lando already has it set up.  Though Allana wants to go with him, this time, she will have to stay behind.
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chapter 11:
 
Kenth Hamner is settling into the role of Grand Master.  Every morning, there are briefings after breakfast.  On this day, he lets everyone know that a case is being prepared against Valin Horn which the Jedi are resisting on the grounds that he is obviously disturbed.  Both the government and the Order agree his mental state should be evaluated.
 
He also lectures Jedi who have made it difficult for their observers to follow them.  Tahiri Veila has refused an observer and her unusual status is being taken up by Nawara Ven in a suit between her and the government.  In the meantime, he has new assignments for Saba, Tyria Sarkin-Tainer and Tekli.
 
Jaina sneaks off to see Jag in a small conference room.  He tells her she can always resign and come live with him in the Empire to set up a rival Jedi school.  Jaina tells him she can’t abandon her responsibility.  She may have been the only one who could have stopped Jacen.  Next time something only the Sword of the Jedi can do pops up, she can’t be off on a vacation. 
 
Then she’s commed by Dab to make sure she’s still here.
 
Ben thinks Dorin is the ugliest inhabited planet he’s ever seen.  The sun is set between two large black holes.  Luke explains that Force-users tend to dislike them because they represent a cessation of life.
 
He remembers the caretakers at Shelter told him the young Jedi children didn’t like being in the Maw surrounded by black holes and cried a lot. 
 
After landing, the ship is inspected by security.  Ben can’t help but feel put-out that no accommodation is made for his famous father.  Luke takes everything in stride, telling his son that it’s better than being met by blasters.  Besides, getting used to the benefits of fame is a pitfall that causes one to make mistakes trying to regain them when they’re taken away.
 
He sets his son to searching for information on the Baran Do while he checks out the breath masks. 
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