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"Backlash": Book 4 in the Fate of the Jedi series


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chapter 1:
 
Vestara Khai, flying a ship that was ancient when her ancestors many generations past were born, arrives at the Kessel system with no idea what to do.  Not long ago, she and her Master, Lady Rhea, had battle Skywalker at a station in the Maw and had wounded him.  Still, the renown Jedi proved how powerful he really is by killing Lady Rhea.
 
Outmatched, Vestara had been forced to flee.  She has to find a way to communicate with her people, but she knows Skywalker will follow her.  There will have to be a way to hide until she can get what she needs.  The best thing to do is to find a place where Force-users are common so she won’t stand out, but she also can’t risk being caught by them.
 
She realizes the perfect place,but will need to check an updated map for the coordinates.
 
In the Transitory Mists, the Millennium Falcon waits while Leia reads a message from Ben about how they’ve encountered Sith.  Han quips that Sith run in packs of two, die together and everything is okay for a few years until two more show up. 
 
Ben has also communicated that Luke is exhausted to the point where the life seems squeezed out of him.  Ben wants Han and Leia to try to help him.
 
Cilghal also gets the communication from Ben and prepares to distribute it through the Jedi Order.
 
Jade Shadow drops out of hyperspace near Kessel and hangs there while Luke gets a sense of the blood trail before the ship jumps to lightspeed again.
 
Ben tells his father that he spoke to Nien Nunb who confirms that a girl landed, calling herself Capt. Khai and scammed a port worker into thinking she’d paid for an entire refueling.  She also got a galactic map update.  Her ship is called She’s a Chancer, but it’s gone now.
 
Several days later, they arrive at Dathomir, a world well-suited to being the home of a new Sith Order.  There are a lot of Force sensitives here with little government oversight.  She is going to hide here.  The girl may be looking for the ancient Sith academy that was once here.
 
There is, however, a Jedi academy down there and Luke’s term of exile requires him to avoid Jedi institutions.  Luke reminds Ben that all Jedi were pulled off of Dathomir when Jacen shut the school down.  They haven’t reopened it.
 
This is a technicality, but all law really is that.  Sadly, though, in Luke’s case, he’s considered a special circumstance.  According to the official, Tarth Vames, any enclosed vehicle is considered a mobile school, according to Chief Daala, especially if it’s got Luke in it.  Luke confirms that a dilapidated vessel did make planetfall the night before in crash mode.  There are rescuers out looking for the pilot.
 
He decides to use speeder bikes here to stay within the guidelines of his exile.
 
Not long after, he and Ben take off, learning some valuable information.  The ship had not come equipped with a hypercomm and there’s no evidence that Dathomir’s sole system has been used to send any data large enough to contain complicated directions into the Maw.  This means that the girl has probably not been able to communicate with her masters yet.
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chapter 2:
 
Luke can sense the girl, along with the energy of the rain forest around him.  There is big life ahead.  Luke travels along, marveling in the Force one moment, the next moment, he’s knocked off the speeder by a large rancor with protective gear.
 
Luke warns the creature not to take him on right now. 
 
Sadly, the rancor doesn’t much care about the danger.  Luke cuts a deep gash into its forearm.  He sees Ben’s speeder bike coming up.  Several meters away, a woman with dark hair with a tangle of animal teeth hanging from it, watches.  She launches of electricity at Luke who leaps to avoid most of it.  She vanishes.
 
The rancor is afraid now.  Luke cautions Ben that the animal is not their enemy.  There is a Nightsister nearby.  Someone clearly doesn’t want them to proceed.  Both his and Ben’s lightsabers are fried.  Fortunately, the synthflesh on Luke’s artificial hand protects the prosthetics somewhat. 
 
Cilghal is leaving Master Hamner’s quarters when she is greeted by Jaina Solo.  Cilghal tells her that they’ve gotten a message from Ben whose father is injured and tired, but expected to recover.  They’ve also discovered a group of Sith in the Maw Cluster and are pursuing one in the hopes of finding out where she came from.
 
Master Hamner is going to call for the Masters to convene.  Whatever happens, however, will have to happen without the approval or even the knowledge of the Galactic Alliance.  To Natasi Daala, the Sith and the Jedi are two sides of the same coin.  To the public at large, they are mythical or just too similar to the Jedi.  The fact that Jacen Solo had gone from Jedi to Sith has only confused the matter more.
 
At Dathomir, the Millennium Falcon hovers over the spaceport.  Han is reluctant to land because, as he explains to Allana, the planet is just a bad place.  Leia tells her how her grandfather had owned the planet illegally for a few weeks and had a bad time here with witches, monsters, an Imperial admiral and a rich prince – her other grandfather, Prince Isolder – who wanted to marry Leia. 
 
Allana adds that, no matter what, Leia was going to end up her grandmother. 
 
Han sends Allana out to watch over Anji so he can have Leia call Zekk and Taryn.  Zekk had been Jaina’s mission partner, and Jag’s rival for her affections, until he’d gone missing during the Battle of Uroro Station.  He’d been declared dead after a weeks-long search until he’d shown up six months later, recovered and romantically involved with Taryn Zel.  Neither of them were willing to discuss what had happened during those missing months, but Leia suspected that Tenel Ka had them on a mission of some kind.
 
Tarth Vames will not believe that the ship is anything other than the Millennium Falcon.  There’s a location request for the Solos from Coruscant.  Leia tells the official that, if he knows who they are, he also knows that whenever the government has disagreed with them on some minor matter, the people involved end up out of office or dead.  The Solos, however, are still here and are always trying to help the little guy or a member of their family.  They’re not asking him to abandon his duty, but to do it differently.  He can come with them and be their guide to make sure all ordinances are being obeyed while they search for her brother and nephew.
 
They also show him Allana who would certainly be horrified if anything happened to her Uncle Luke.   Faced with an unhappy little girl, he gives in and helps arrange for what they need. 
 
Then they tell Allana that, while they’re gone looking for Luke and Ben, she will need to stay on the Falcon alone with Threepio and make sure Anji is kept safe.  They don’t tell her that Zekk is in a ship nearby in the spaceport.  
 
Their team appears, including a man named Dyon Stadd, who’d been a potential Jedi candidate during the Yuuzhan Vong war, but didn’t have enough potential to make it.  He went into xenopology and language studies and helps with trade negotiations here.
 
He introduces them to the others: Sha’natrac Tsu is also known as Tribeless Sha, Carrack is a heavily-muscled human male wearing camouflaged stormtrooper armor and a woman who looks Hapan.  Her name is Yliri Consta, the younger sister of the holodrama star, Sarita Consta.  Yliri used to do stunt work for her until she turned to comedy.
 
Leia has a feeling that her family members are somewhere north.  That’s about as specific as she can get.
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          •    Despite Dyon Stadd’s assertion that he met the Solos during the Yuuzhan Vong war, this is his first appearance and no mention of him was made during the NJO.
 
 

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chapter 3:
 
At the Galactic Empire embassy on Coruscant, Jagged Fel finally has some time alone after a long day and decides to utilize a flight simulator for relaxation.  He barely gets out when he realizes that sleeping gas has been put in there. 
 
A single stormtrooper comes in with a blaster rifle.  Knowing there have to be more kidnappers and, presumably, this was an inside job, Jag aims at the ceiling and blasts it.  Alarms begin to wail.  Jag uses a variety of methods to get rid of his potential abductors before his aide, Kthira’shi’ktarloo, arrives with worry.
 
Ashik has brought several Imperial security officers with him.
 
It turns out the first stormtrooper was the dayshift security officer, the others were all fakes, having seen some Imperial service years ago, been dishonorably discharged and not done well since then.  They’d all travelled to Coruscant under funds transferred from a dummy corporation on Borleias. 
 
Jaina thinks he should be safer.  Jag refuses to go hide on the Gilad Pellaeon.  It has to have been one or more of the Moffs.  Lecersen would be in a good position, but this isn’t really his style. 
 
Though Lecersen does believe that Jag’s relationship with Jaina is a weakness, this is really more about Jag’s efforts to change the way the Empire has done things over the decades.  It’s the change they resent. 
 
Two vehicles head out with the Solos and their escort through the Dathomiri rain forest.  After a couple of hours, Leia can no longer sense Luke’s presence.  They move on until blood is spotted on a bush near some rancor footprints.  There are two wrecked speeder bikes nearby.  Tarth confirms that the registration numbers match the ones Luke and Ben rented.
 
Sha thinks they’ve gone northwest.  She’s found another set of tracks belonging to a Dathomiri woman.  One of them is following the other, but she doesn’t know which one.  All the electronics left behind are fried, so there was some kind of electrical attack.  Sha thinks it was a lightning attack by Nightsisters.
 
Leia thought they were all gone.  Sha tells her they hide, heal and return.  When their numbers are low, they come for children.  But they’re never gone. 
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          •    Well, didn’t Lomi Plo escape?  Wasn’t she a Nightsister?  I know the Vong seized Dathomir, so I suppose that the Nightsisters may have been thought to be wiped out, but I would also assume that any Force-user on Dathomir would be a target, too.  Obviously, they survived, so the Nightsisters probably did, too.
 
 

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chapter 4:
 
Chief of State Daala admits to Wynn Dorvan that her experience has been to make decisions and ask for opinions later.  In civilian government, the opposite is necessary.  She needs to know if he thinks her tactics regarding the Jedi are sound.
 
Dorvan tells her that he trusts the Jedi to put the needs of the people first.  They do sometimes reach the right decision through trial and error.  He tells her that she’s pushing too hard.  They are either her allies or her subordinates.  They cannot be both. 
 
Daala thinks they should be the government’s subordinates.  Dorvan assures her that he backs her all the way, but does recommend she choose a different approach.  The one she’s choosing now worked for Palpatine for a short time, but came at a cost.  She is in danger of being seen by the public as following in his footsteps if she’s not careful.
 
Sha emerges from a bush completely soundless, causing Han to splash himself with caf.  She’s found several tracks, leading her to believe that the woman is following the Jedi, but cuts across his path many times.  She heads northeast.  He follows her for awhile before resuming his northwest course.
 
She seems to be trying to draw them away from a clan with many rancors headed toward Redgill Pass.  Dyon looks at a map and notes the defensibility of the place.  It could be a battle site being planned.  They won’t catch up with them tonight, though.
 
At the spaceport, Threepio waits while Allana has a conversation with her mother.  The girl chastises him for always watching her.  He assures her that he and Artoo have her best interests at heart.  She’s upset because her grandparents had promised her that she could ride a rancor the next time they were on Dathomir.  They must have forgotten.
 
Threepio finds that Artoo has been exploring the area around the spaceport.  The mechanic hurried to close the hangar door when he saw Artoo watching a ship.  Threepio isn’t all that impressed or concerned when they have the welfare of the child as a priority.
 
Daala and her Chief of Starfighter Command, General Merratt Jaxton, engage in some practice shooting.  Jaxton admits that some in the officer corps don’t think she’s protecting their interests in the way they expected she would.
 
She reminds him that the military has been restored, the Jedi have been beheaded while Luke Skywalker chases his nephew’s ghost around and Tahiri Veila is on trial in a civilian court.  Her eventual conviction and execution will take time.
 
He reminds her that Cha Niathal should be subject to military laws, not civilian.  Daala knows that Niathal lives in retirement on Mon Calamari.  She tells Jaxton that most realize that Niathal is guilty only of trusting Jacen Solo.  He points out that it’s all Luke Skywalker did, too, and he’s now in exile. 
 
Jaxton doesn’t want to harm Niathal, but some believe that she is setting a precedent that someone who holds the Chief of State office, even a co-Chief of State position, can be pardoned if they mess up.  This looks like she’s setting up a way to weasel out of any mistakes she may make. 
 
There are powerful people muttering these accusations.  She should find three impartial military judges to sit on a court martial and they will acquit Niathal.  While she continues to wage war against the Jedi, she is fighting a two-front war, the second front being her own people.
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chapter 5:
 
After dawn, the group sets out again with Sha leading the way.  Leia suddenly feels Luke submerging himself in the Force.  He knows they are here. 
 
Allana asks Threepio where Artoo is.  The droid claims not to know, but she thinks he’s lying.   Worried that Artoo will get himself into trouble, she presses.  Threepio admits Artoo went out last night and hasn’t returned.  He claimed to have seen a ship nearby and probably went to investigate. 
 
Allana wants to go find him, but Threepio will not allow it.  He is monitoring Artoo’s comm frequencies for now.
 
Luke has figured out their mysterious companion by now.  She keeps trying to slow them or divert them by setting up traps on one side or another of them.  This is taking time to be on guard for these obstacles. 
 
Meditating, he can sense the forest, the nearby settlements, Leia and their pursuer, laying a dangerous trap with boulders.  She certainly wants them to go away.  Ben tells him he’s looking pale.  Luke knows that he needs days of rest after all he went through in the Maw, but that isn’t going to happen right now.  He’s found no sign of a crash site nearby.  Ben wonders if she might have crashed in the lake. 
 
They find the rocktrap easily.  Ben suggests that, when the rocks fall, they just get out of the way.  They traverse various rocks, until several rancors with women on them arrive.  She hadn’t had those reinforcements earlier.
 
Luke calls out a greeting, but another woman causes a wind storm that pulls Ben off the slope. 
 
Leia urges them to hurry.  The first appearance of the rancors upsets Han, but Leia tells him it’s the witches who are the problem.  They don’t know why the Jedi aren’t using their lightsabers.  Han enters the pass, kills the thrust, heads to port and puts the repulsors to full strength, skidding toward the unwary enemies.  The witches are forced out of the way, Leia and Dyon leap free and Han crashes into the pass. 
 
He shoots one Nightsister who looks angrier than any woman he’s ever seen besides Leia.  Luke and Ben are using the force to push back flying boulders.  A rncor comes after Han.  The other speeder arrives with Carrack, Sha and Tarth holding on while Yliri drives.
 
The rancor goes after the speeder inside which sideslips it and Carrack fires at the beast with his rifle.  Then the rear panel of the speeder clips it in the head.  It falls down the hill slope, taking rock with it.  Leia tosses Ben her lightsaber which he catches and holds against a woman he’d kicked.  The fight is over.
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chapter 6:
 
Moff Lecersen sets up his office within moments at the GA embassy and meets with Senator Haydnat Treen of Kuat.  Lecersen admits he was surprised to find that the recent kidnapping attempt on the Head of State did not implicate the usual suspected Moffs. 
 
He did find, however, that the Borleias bank had a second set of books that hadn’t been scrubbed and it led back to a vehicle importer which led to a Kuati construction firm leading him to her.
 
He just doesn’t know what to do with the information.  She invites him to the Kuat embassy so long as he brings only those he trusts.
 
Later, at the embassy, Treen explains that she’d been a senator for one year when Palpatine came to power and his greatest mistake was silencing the voices of planetary leaders.  When he suspended the Senate, she knew he was mad.
 
The original benevolent Empire is missed and she thinks Lecersen can bring it back.  He’s not sure how kidnapping Jagged Fel would have resulted in him being made Emperor.  Treen tells him the other steps are mapped out.
 
Fel has to be eliminated because he cannot be trusted to handle the reunion of the GA and the Empire.  His successor will have to get the credit and the likely successor is Lecerson.  The next obstacle is Daala. 
 
Lecersen has no love for the Chief of State who made half the Moffs women.  Treen, from a world where women dominate, isn’t bothered by that.  It would have happened eventually anyway, but this idea that non-humans are promoted beyond their abilities is intolerable.  That’s another reason to ditch Fel. He’s too Chiss-minded.
 
However, Daala has the Emergency Powers Act which allows her to use her authority unilaterally.  The Senate can oppose her by freezing spending.  Lecersen adds that he made sure that the Chief of State cannot suspend the Senate, but it’s the Appropriations and Disbursements Committee that controls spending when the Emergency Powers Act goes into play.
 
They would need a majority of the senators on that committee and the Chief of the Armed Forces on their side.  Even if Lecersen temporarily replaces Fel, a crisis will erupt that will cause the EPA to be invoked.  As the situation worsens, public approval for Daala falls, forcing her to resign.  A temporary Chief of State will have to take over.  They could arrange to have a large enough block to put Treen in her place.
 
Lecersen isn’t sure they can get past the committee and Chiefs of Armed Forces, though.  She introduces him to Senator Bramsin, who’d served off and on as Senator of Coruscant for decades.  He explains that wars like the last civil war wouldn’t have happened in an orderly society.  However, Daala is making the same mistakes Palpatine did during his later years.  Poorly-thought out laws are not the answer.  He wants to see sensible order restored before he dies.
 
He represents most of the senators on his committee. They also have the backing of Starfighter Command and the army.  Treen wants to be Grand Moff of the Corusca sector when Lecersen becomes Emperor.
 
Daala knows that Jaxton is right.  She contacts former Admiral Cha Niathal to let her know personally that there is a summons for her to appear in court to face charges of gross dereliction of duty for failing to recognize Jacen Solo’s behavior as being dangerous.
 
Daala assures her that the charges will probably be reduced and the public won’t want blood, especially if Niathal can acknowledge her mistake.  Niathal doesn’t think she made one.  Even after all these years, she believes there was no way to know that Jacen Solo would become what he did.  If she goes to trial and admits a mistake she didn’t make, it puts the navy in an embarrassing situation that she hopes to avoid.
 
She will come to Coruscant, nevertheless, Daala knowing she’s right.  It is possible to do everything right and still have everything crashing down through no fault of one’s own.   If Niathal will not play the game, the trial will crush her.
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          •    I have a hard time believing that Niathal didn’t recognize Jacen Solo’s problems.  Wasn’t she plotting against him at some point, but realized she couldn’t use his own Emergency Powers provision to remove him?  She may have changed sides, but she was still in a position where she approved the detention and deportation of Corellians and some of the other excesses.
          •    Though it’s stated that Bramsin had served on and off for decades as Senator from Coruscant, this is the first mention or appearance of him ever.
          •    I’m trying to remember the benevolent Empire that first started out.  Was this the one that destroyed the Jedi right down to the little younglings, used a biological weapon on Gibad, enslaved the Wookiees and caused the destruction of the Caamasi homeworld?  This happened within a year of Palpatine assuming the position of Emperor!  What about the Inquisitors, the Imperial Intelligence under Armand Isard, the use of Darth Vader, the putting down of protests on Bellasus and other worlds….the list goes on and on.
 

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chapter 7:
 
The nine witches are now bound.  Sha tells the group that the women are from the Raining Leaves Clan that suffered a disaster about ten years ago.  No one talks about it, but it’s suspected the senior Witches all died then. 
 
Luke decides to try to talk to them.  Kaminne Sihn is the head of the clan.  Her sister is Olianne, the others are Halliava Vurse and Firen Nuln.  She declares Luke and his comrades friends and counselors.  They may untie the group now.
 
Luke heads to Han and says he likes coming to backwater worlds because no one watches the news and tells him he looks taller on the ‘net.  After making sure he and Ben can get replacement parts to fix their lightsabers, Luke has Sha release the witches.  Kaminne moves up and tells Luke that she has assumed, from all the stories told of him, that he would be taller.
 
Han’s speeder is too damaged, but Yliri’s still works.  Luke rides in the cargo speeder with the Solos, Sha and the Sihn sisters.  Kaminne tells him that he changes things wherever he goes.  She was only a baby when he first arrived on Dathomir.  His deeds are often told here.  Some clans began freeing their men, when the Jedi school opened, any with Force skills were trained.  Some change was peaceful, some wasn’t. 
 
Some of the men ran off and began living in their own clans.  This is something that has always happened, but has increased over the years.  Some of these clans attacked the smaller Witch clans.  Raining Leaves remained traditional over those years.  Ten years ago, their men rose up and killed the most experienced witches.  Kaminne and her sister lost their mother, aunts and oldest sister.  They struck back, killing every male over the age of 10.
 
But, they’ve lost a great deal of their clan.  One male clan, Broken Columns, has been trading with them over the years.  A deal has been struck that has both clans gather at Redgill Lake once per year.  Marriages are made there.  Sons are given to their fathers and the girls are introduced to their relatives.
 
This year, the gathering will be different.  The two clans will unite as one.  Kaminne will marry Tasander Dest, the leader of Broken Columns, who is Hapan.  He was brought here as a boy by his father and chose to stay.  There was a Hapan compound here for many years to accommodate the late Queen Mother and her daughter.
 
Luke tells her that they are looking for a girl whose ship crashed somewhere north of the spaceport.  Kaminne tells him the girl’s name is Vestara and she is with the clan.  Olianne may even adopt her.  He will not be able to take her without violence if that’s his intent.
 
Wynn Dorvan calls Daala to tell her she has a priority communication from Elyas Caran, the emissary she’d sent to Mon Calamari.  It’s not the kind she will want transmitted anywhere. 
 
She walks into the communications center to find that Caran is on the screen in front of a water tank in which floats the uniformed body of Cha Niathal.  Caran explains the assistant found her that way this morning.  She used a carbon monoxide feed into her tank.
 
A note left behind states that she did it with honor, without error and by her own choosing. 
 
Daala wants her brought here so that they can see who is sorry and who rejoices.  She will be returned to Mon Calamari for a funeral with full military honors.  She marches from the room before anyone can see the tears.
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chapter 8:
 
Allana works on how to escape the ship without Threepio knowing about it.  She finds the small life that takes mechanics to the topside hatch has not been programmed to ignore her commands.  Sneaking herself and Anji into a storage compartment, she finds some cable and takes it to the lift, wrinkling her nose at the foul rainforest air.
 
She ties one end of the cable to a strut while Anji jumps to the ground.  Allana looks around, seeing only a tall man and a lady nearby.  No one raises an alarm, so she socots down the cable to the ground to join her pet. 
 
At Redgill Lake, the various parties arrive.  Kaminne tells the group that those who have been following them are not enemies.  She introduces Luke and his comrades.  Tasander Dest approaches and greets the newcomers.  He warns Luke that things haven’t changed all that much since he was here last.  If Luke wants people to open up, he may wish to participate in some of the games tomorrow.
 
Luke, Ben and the others are settled around a campfire of their own.  Ben asks Kaminne why her sister has taken such an interest in the Sith girl.  They’ve not known each other long.  Kaminne explains that Olianne’s only child, an eight-year old girl, died a few months ago of a fever.  Vestara stumbled out of the forest and collapsed in Olianne’s arms.  Kaminne suspects that her sister’s heart was touched.
 
As it is, Olianna and the girl are arguing now about speaking with the strangers.  The girl comes out, looking to be about Ben’s age.  She has dark hair and brown eyes, and a smile that Luke realizes is an illusion caused by a small scar on her mouth. 
 
She explains that she was a Sith, but is now Raining Leaves.  This is her clan now.  She cannot, however, betray her former family or Luke will surely kill them.  She could summon them here, but that puts Olianne and her clan at risk. 
 
Ben accuses her of lying. Luke is sure she is, but knows he can find out just as much from her anyway.  He comments how dedicated she was when she fought on the station.  Vestara tells him that punishment awaits those who do not do their best.  That is surely true of the Jedi.
 
She cannot answer his questions, insists her lightsaber was lost in the crash and doesn’t know where even the crash site is.  Olianne comes to her defense.
 
Allana gets bored spying, no matter how good it looks in the holodramas.  She wanders around, looking for Artoo until she finds a dome with Monrag’s Mechanic Works on it.  There is a man with an eye patch there.  A blue rag covers something that could be an astromech.
 
Threepio comms her and asks where she is. She backs out and tells him she’s playing hide-and-seek.  She’s going to hide in a better place and he’s to count to 1000.  Heading back to the ship, she and Anji climb back up and inside the Falcon where Threepio finds her and compliments her for being so cooperative.
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chapter 9:
 
Daala isn’t particularly good company at dinner with her friend, Nek Buwa’tu, Chief of Naval Operations.  He admits he’s heard rumbling about her lack of toughness, especially with regard to the Jedi.
 
He thinks that some kind of special-interest group is fanning those flames.  He doesn’t object to more control being exerted over the Jedi, but he doubts they are as out of control as some think.  At heart, the Jedi Order is beneficent.
 
She worries about how the loss of Niathal is going to make things better.  Bwau’tu admits he doesn’t know how to handle a civilian government.  His first reaction is to tell the grumblers to shut up and do their jobs.  He wonders if she’s planning a move on the Jedi.
 
When Daala admits she is, Bwau’tu tells her he doesn’t recommend it.  The Jedi shouldn’t be alienated the way Colonel Solo did.  It’s important to have them as a resource, but they’re not commandos.
 
He suspects she’s planning to use Mandalorians against them.  She tells him to stop reading her mind.  She does ask him if he’s staying tonight and he allows that he will if the invitation is open.
 
Kyp Durron arrives in the Masters’ chambers to see a hologram of Jaden Korr addressing the assembly.  Korr is telling them that there is evidence that Black Sun is gaining strength again.  Some graffiti has been found venerating Xizor.
 
Hamner asks if there’s any evidence that the prince is still alive.  Korr hasn’t seen that, but he supposes it’s possible someone cloned him.  Hamner tells him to investigate, then calls on Sothais Saar to make his report.  Saar has been working on a report on the issue of slavery in the galaxy. 
 
It continues in Hutt space as it always has, but the Jedi Order’s efforts to diminish slavery outside the GA are also limited since it has pledged to uphold the values of the Old Republic and its successor states.  Haggling over GA resources outside of its territory has resorted in most slave populations realizing that they are left to their own devices.
 
The meeting ends and Hamner dismisses everyone not a Master or specifically invited to the gathering.  Kyp tells everyone that their StealthX squadrons are at 72% readiness now, will be 91% in two days. 
 
Saba thinks they should launch now and let the others join them when ready.  Hamner wonders where they should launch to as they don’t know where the Sith are hiding now.  Saba thinks they need to go someplace where the government cannot interfere.
 
Hamner thinks they should wait and see if they get more information from Ben Skywalker or the Solos.  For now, they should continue to look as though nothing is wrong. 
 
On Dathomir, Ben wakes up and tries to calm his nerves.  He had hoped the Sith were gone when Jacen died and Tahiri showed no interest in continuing that path.  Now, this lost group is running around.  Part of him is a little afraid of that, not of the Sith themselves, but of becoming like Darth Caedus.
 
Firen Nuln approaches the campfire and tells the group that she is to answer questions if there are any.  Ben asks what kind of games they will have.  She tells them that there will be races, shooting competitions, wrestling, boating, swimming and riddling. 
 
Ben holds his hands apart and asks what is that big, weighs forty kilos and eats people.  Dyon tells him that’s not how the riddles work.  With people that have oral traditions, the riddles are more involved.  Firen confirms this but does want to know the answer to Ben’s.  He tells her it’s an Ewok in a lunchbox.
 
The adults in the group will have to compete and choose a division.  They may either compete against those with Arts – the Force – or those without.    It goes without saying that, if Luke doesn’t compete, he will be thought of as feeble or scornful of the traditions.
 
He chooses a footrace. 
 
Ben takes the time to put on a disguise and watches Olianne and Vestara.  The race starts and Vestara turns to greet him a good morning.  Ben isn’t interested in the kind of day it is.  Even watching his father win doesn’t change that.
 
He wants to confront her over the lies.  Vestara tells him that her name really is Vestara Khai, so that’s not a lie.  She also had been a Sith.  That the Raining Leaves don’t consider her one anymore is their perspective.  Talking about her friends and family will get them hurt for certain.  She did, however, lie about the crash.  She’s too good a pilot to crash her ship.
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chapter 10:
 
After the races, Luke asks Ben if he got anything.  Ben admits she’s all over the place.  She does, however, seem to like the Dathomiri and hope her people can learn something from them. 
 
Luke tells him that stay aware then to find out what she wants to learn.  Ben asks if Teneniel Djo really tried to marry him when he first came here.  Luke confesses that it’s true, of a sort that can only occur on Dathomir.  Ben should be careful who he smiles at, for that reason.
 
Ben admits his only choices here are a bunch of women used to being in charge and a Sith girl.
 
He spends the rest of the day watching Vestara, but she doesn’t do anything suspicious.  She talks, cheers, behaves warmly to some, chilly to others, but is not surrounded by a vortex of evil.
 
He wishes he could hate her.
 
Uncle Han ties with Tasander Dest in the first shooting match.  During the speeder bike race, though, Ben gets the feeling that something is wrong here.  He’s still troubled by where Vestara’s lightsaber is, but he can’t shake that some evil intent is inside the camp.
 
At noontime, Han emerges first place in the final shooting match.  Over lunch, Luke asks Leia and Ben if they feel it.  Leia knows it’s something to do with Han.  Luke isn’t sure he’s been here long enough for that.  Ben is pretty sure the malice is more widespread than that.
 
They wait quietly while food is distributed.  The three Jedi feel it.  Even Dyon feels it.  Leia walks to Han quickly and tells him nicely not to move.  She reaches past him and grabs a serpent from behind him.  Sha identifies it as a Kodashi viper, very poisonous, no antidote, good to eat.
 
They aren’t found here.  This one was directed through the Force.  A man’s cry sounds elsewhere.  People begin jumping up.  Some fire at the ground.  More cries are heard.
 
Half an hour later, it’s determined that several vipers were set loose in the Broken Columns camp.  One had been speared, but four others were successful in killing men who had been winners of various games.
 
Some of the men believe members of Raining Leaves did it to bring the men to heel under them again.  Firen denies it, but it looks like a conflict is about to start.  Ben has to cut short a knife one man pulls on her.
 
Tasander Dest tells them that there is only one type of person with the power to command the serpents and has an interest in preventing the unification of the clans:  Nightsisters.  Tonight, they will mourn the dead and have games tomorrow in their honor.  They will prove to the Nightsisters that they are more united than ever.
 
Luke approaches Tasander and Kaminne to ask them where the Nightsisters are now.  While some live in small groups in the forest or mountains, the problem now is that many of them are living within the clans, hiding their identities, disguising the marks on their flesh that were telltale signs of dark arts.  There is obviously a group in this camp, hoping to prevent the unification.
 
Wynn Dorvan has to steel himself for dealing with Sothais Saar, the Chev Jedi who is very focused, but quite dull.  He is rather surprised to find Saar asleep in a chair.  The Jedi starts up and admits he’s had long hours, deciding to go.
 
Dorvan is confused, but walks along with Saar, telling him that the Chief of State is as committed to eliminating slavery from the galaxy as he is.  But she has other demands on her time right now.  Saar takes this in with barely an acknowledgement, walking quickly.  This is unusual behavior for the Chev who normally can’t stop talking.  

 Dorvan suggests he put together a proposal on how the Jedi and the government can cooperate on this venture.  Saar agrees and keeps going toward the exit.  Dorvan struggles to keep up with him, urging him to think of this as a way to encourage greater cooperation between the GA and the Jedi Order in this tense times.  Saar’s only answer is a noncommittal yes.
 
Dorvan suddenly realizes what he is seeing.  He thinks hard and then tells Saar that he’s sure the Jedi wants to know what has been done with the real Wynn Dorvan.  Saar pulls his lightsaber and Dorvan reminds him that he is unarmed.  Saar disappears, then reappears meters away, running to the exit.  Dorvan calls for a lockdown, reporting another mad Jedi.
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chapter 11:
 
Jedi Saar runs across the plaza, quickly, before security speeders are launched to pursue him.  He spots Master Cilghal with relief and is about to approach her when he realizes it’s not really her. 
 
He ignites his lightsaber, causing a panic.  Cilghal knows it’s pointless to try to reason with him.  She fights him briefly, but quickly, enough to bring him down, unconscious, to the pavement.
 
Dorvan, still shaken, arrives in Daala’s office.  She confirms that Cilghal took Saar back to the Temple.  CSF officers are there now with an order that he be released in their custody.  The Jedi have an hour to comply.
 
When Jaina reaches the medical ward, she finds the HoloNet abuzz with the standoff at the Temple.  Sul Vaal, medic and aide to Cilghal, confirms that Saar is the same as the others.  They are preparing to ship him off to Shedu Maad before all their vehicles are commandeered.
 
Tyria Sarkin Tainer is in the motor pool when Jaina arrives to take a shuttle out.  The woman is also watching the holonews broadcast when she notes that the recording looped on the screen even though there’s still a live broadcast going on.
 
Jaina reaches out in the Force, then comms the communications center to warn Master Hamner of an imminent attack.  When the lights flicker momentarily, Jaina gets an alert that the Main Hall is under attack.
 
She commandeers an apprentice named Bandy Geffer to man the hardwired intercom.  Tyria runs in to tell her that the second attack is happening here near the hangar. 
 
The door blows out and four Mandalorians emerge, firing mini-rockets at them.  Jaina throws wall debris up that the rockets hit instead.  Tyria tells Bandy to request reinforcements down here.
 
Jaina and Tyria fight the oncoming Mandos following the first wave.  Tyria is knocked unconscious and Bandy’s desk is pushed out from under him.  He ignites his lightsaber, no real match for the Mandos.  Jaina hopes he lasts a few seconds.
 
Raynar Thul steps out and sees Jaina Solo and one apprentice left with the Mandalorians.  He sends the apprentice off and steps in front of the intruders, telling them he hasn’t fought for real for years and should be a pushover.

They start firing at him, but he used his appearance to distract them from seeing him use the Force to pull a durasteel panel toward him to block their shots so he has enough time to leap over it and land behind the Mandos.

He grabs the arm of one of the females, aims it at her comrades and fires the weapon in her hand.  Mini rockets slam into the breastplate and rocket pack of two of the Mandos.  The heat from detonated rocket pack pushes Raynar back and sends intense heat his way.  He cuts through a blaster rifle before a grappling line wraps around his ankle, causing his arm to fly out, giving the Mando a chance to grab it and break it with a crushgauntlet.  Raynar is able to use his other arm to cut the line that holds him.

The apprentice races over and slashes at the back of Raynar’s attacker’s knee.  The other two are distracted from watching Raynar so he uses the Force to yank the helmet off one of their heads and slam it down hard, knocking the Mando out.

The apprentice continues to battle the one he injured.  Raynar turns back to the woman with the mini rockets he’d fired.  The lightsaber is useless against the beskar so he feints with his blade, spins out and kicks her in the jaw.  Kicking three more times, he gets her out of the fight.

He turns to help the apprentice, uses the Force to lift the Mando and slam him down on the floor repeatedly.  He goes to help Jaina who he encounters carrying Tainer.  Jaina tells him that there are holes where the hangar doors should be.  More Mandos are probably outside.  They’ll have to go up a level, lock down the lifts and put up a fight there.

An hour later, Master Hamner explains that the Main Hall attack was a feint.  The real attacks came at the hangar level through the food warehouse.  The commandos managed to shut down communication.  Fortunately, Jaina’s fast thinking allowed them to consider they were being flanked.

None of the Jedi have died; no one knows how many Mandos were killed.  Government forces are now surrounding the Temple.  Kyp Durron confirms that they cannot move the StealthXs without being seen.  This means they cannot reinforce Luke or do anything about the Sith.  They aren’t even going to be able to get Saar offplanet.  The government is demanding that the Jedi surrender.  
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chapter 12:
 
That night, Allana sneaks out again and can’t help but notice someone near the other ship.  She can’t help but think she’s being watched.  She doesn’t head straight for the mechanic’s hangar again, but goes around the Falcon with Anji.
 
She comms Threepio who’s in the cockpit and tells him that she and Anji are outside the ship. They are going to Monarg’s Mechanic Works to rescue Artoo-Detoo.
 
Making Anji wait outside the door of the shop, she causes a distraction by starting a small fire outside.  Monarg runs out, curses and goes back inside for a fire extinguisher.  She uses the opportunity to sneak into the shop, pull the blanket off and finds Artoo.  There’s a restraining bolt on him, but it’s stuck too firmly for her to pull off.
 
When Monarg comes back inside, he catches her.  Allana kicks him in the chain, Anji jumps on his shoulders and tries to bite him, but her restrainer protects him somewhat.  He grabs the cub, pulls her off his neck and slams her head down on the workbench, tossing her onto the floor. 
 
Allana kicks him again, screams, tosses his cup into his face.  Then she throws the mug at him.  The hangar door closes again with no sign of See-Threepio, but she can see two dark shapes nearby. 
 
She runs around the stern of a ship, losing him.  When he slows the mechanic droids down, she jumps on one, grabs a metal file, distracts Monarg with a tool tossed in another direction.
 
She tries to pull the restraining bolt off Artoo with the metal file before Monarg grabs her again.  He tells her that her memory can’t be wiped like a droid and, no matter what she promises now, someday, she will tell on him.  She assures him she’s not promising anything and will definitely tell on him.
 
She struggles against him as See-Threepio finally appears, demanding that he unhand the girl or he will be thrashed.
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chapter 13:
 
Monarg orders the shop sealed up, causing the doors to close and trap C-3PO inside.  The droid tells him that he is loading a package of combat maneuvers that are illegal on many worlds. 
 
Not believing that a protocol droid will fight, Monarg drops Allana.  Anji can only stagger a few steps before she collapses from dizziness.  Monarg shoves 3PO down.  The droid tells him he’s not a gentleman.
 
Monarg continues to punch and kick the droid until he slips and falls, accusing Allana of doing it. 
 
Nearby, Artoo’s start-up sequence begins, activating his memory and orienting him in his new surroundings.  He sees his restraining bolt gone, Anji staggering around in circles and Threepio being swung around by the legs by a huge man.  Allana is creeping up on the man with a large tool in her hand.
 
Comm signals are jammed and there are several messages waiting.  One is from Threepio is marked the highest priority.  The message tells Artoo that he’s being sent a wake-up command in the hopes that Artoo will be able to rescue him and Allana.  The droid’s motivators come online and he sends a message to Zekk and Taryn Zel before rolling forward.
 
He extends an arc welder and zaps Monarg’s left buttock.  It’s gratifying to see the man drop Threepio and leap in the air with a screech.  Then the droid opens the doors.  Allana grabs Anji and they all leave the hangar.  Artoo closes the doors behind them, Allana asking Threepio if he really has a fighter program.  Threepio assures her that a child of four could outwrestle him.
 
They get aboard the Falcon where Allana activates the comm unit to get help before Morag can get out of his hangar and come after them.
 
Ben can see why his father has made discouraging remarks about wasteful meetings in the past.  This gathering of the Raining Leaves and Broken Columns Clans is pretty pointless. 
 
Right now, they’re bickering on what name to give the united clan.  Tribeless Sha is nowhere in sight, though she would be quite helpful here.  He decides he should put his mind to work using his investigative techniques to solve the problem. 
 
He decides to offer a solution.  Speculating on what each clan name means to the respective groups, he gives a riddle that has the answer of the Sun.  This represents both nature and a new life, something that is important to each clan.
 
They decide on the Bright Sun Clan.
 
It’s almost symbolic when a sparkfly shows up, giving off a little yellow light.  It’s joined by others soon.  Then one lands on a man’s wrist and sparks against his skin, blackening the landing spot.  The other insects begin their assault.
 
Luke reaches Ben, telling him it’s the Nightsisters again.  Carrack is using his flamethrower at the sparkflies above him.  Luke opens up to the Force, locates several Nightsisters and he and Ben run off toward them.
 
Han uses a wet blanket to swat the sparkflies off of Leia while she wanders the camp.  Carrack is trying to pull on his armor, so Han takes the weapon and shoots it up at a swarm of the insects.
 
Carrack’s helmet picks up stationary women in the forest with two men – the Skywalkers- moving toward them.  The Dathomiri are running into the cold lake and submerging themselves up to their heads.  Leia tells them to dunk all the way under when she counts to zero.
 
When they all dunk together, Han uses the flamethrower to vaporize thousands of insects.  Then Carrack starts firing small grenades.
 
Luke and Ben run through the forest, tripping over bodies and jumping to the ground when they hear the explosives.  Luke triggers a net trap that would have been nasty for someone.  The Nightsisters are clearly gone at this point.
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chapter 14:
 
Carrack fires several times into the forest until he confirms that everyone is moving away.  The sparkflies are coming back for him this time.  Han tries to burn most of them, but they find gaps in his armor.  He runs to the lake, jumps in and Han uses the flamethrower.
 
When the remaining sparkflies finally disssipate, everyone comes out of the water and assesses what has happened.  Nobody had died, but several are injured badly.  Carrack is severely burned and in shock.  Yliri tends him. 
 
Dyon thinks he needs bacta, but that’s at the spaceport.  Clan members come out of the forest to report that some of those pursuing their attackers had run into deadly traps.  That’s where the deaths have occurred.
 
There are a couple of Nightsister bodies, too. A couple of them are identified as belonging to clans that should be nowhere near here.  They were likely killed by Carrack’s grenades and the survivors sent sparkflies to him in revenge.
 
They find Tribeless Sha’s body, too.  Ben can’t believe she would just sit out here and get caught unaware.  Han and Leia get beeps on their comlinks, pull them and hear Allana’s emergency message. Han tries to comm her back, but gets no answer.
 
On the ship, Allana wants to call the spaceport authorities.  Threepio has analyzed recent activities here and determines that the authorities are just looking for a reason to move against the ship. 
 
Monarg turns up with a cutter-welder.  Artoo points out that the blaster cannon is near where Monarg is trying to get inside.  Threepio can’t really suggest they use it.  Allana starts flipping switches on the ship when she sees the tall man and the woman again, wearing coats with hoods.
 
She has Artoo plug into the ship and the vessel lurches up into the sky.  Artoo reports that Monarg’s cutting torch explodes as he was trying to light it.
 
Dathomir Spaceport protests that they haven’t been given clearance to leave. 
 
At Redgill Lake, Han is yelling at Zekk and Taryn for letting someone take off in his ship with Allana aboard, when Leia gets a comm from her granddaughter.  Threepio relates the long story of what has happened thus far, culminating in the news that the child is flying the ship  Leia has Artoo transmit coordinates.
 
Yliri offers to take them and Carrack to the spaceport.  Before they leave, Leia transfers a message forwarded from Artoo to Ben.  In the cargo speeder, they load the unconscious Carrack, an apologetic Tarth Vames and the Solos.  Ben reports that Jaina has sent him news that the Mandos attacked the Temple during a raid.
 
Ben gets an idea where Vestara is hiding her lightsaber.  Allana described a ship at Monarg’s that may be hers.  They know she didn’t crash, so her stuff either has to be at Monarg’s or somewhere else.  If it’s not in the camp, it’s possible that she encountered Nightsisters first and her things are with them.  She may be the one who passed on the information that led to the attacks on this camp.
 
Luke points out that, if the Nightsisters have infiltrated most of the clans anyway, they would hardly need Vestara to provide intelligence.  Ben accepts this and admits he just wants to blame her for something.
 
Luke suggests he find out what she’s really doing and blame her for that.
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chapter 15:
 
Han patches the part of the hull damaged when Zekk sabotaged Monarg’s welding torch.  Leia approaches him and tells him that she’s assured Allana that she’s not grounded forever, but will have to wait until next time to ride a rancor.
 
Anji has lots of bruises, but should be okay.  She questions Threepio not telling them when Artoo went missing.  The droid explains that Artoo had told him not to bother them unless a certain amount of time passed without contact.  He gave in because Artoo has a long history of doing things without permission. 
 
Han and Leia know they have to go back to Coruscant.
 
The dignified funeral expected for Cha Niathal has turned into a procession that will be broadcast on all major news services.  Daala adjusts her dress uniform while demanding to find out who authorized the procession and paid for it on top of the drum line, transportation and security deposit.
 
Wynn Dorvan arrives with news that a threat against her at the funeral is anticipated. Public approval is dropping since the suicide.  Oddly enough, Niathal was maligned the day before her death, now she’s a martyr.  It’s not just Mon Cals, but sympathizers, Confederation loyalists, admirers of Niathal or Caedus, anti-Imperial elements and other assorted possibilities out there.
 
Daala tells him she can’t win.  If she goes, someone might take a shot at her.  If she doesn’t, she looks callous.  Dorvan would rather she err and be alive.  The raid on the Temple hasn’t helped things.  The Jedi are perceived as trying very hard to take care of the problem of the mad Jedi and the GA looks stupid for not being able to stop them.
 
The Armed Forces think she doesn’t have confidence in them because she’s using Mandos.  Special forces, in particular, is offended.  Daala wonders if there’s some conspiracy afoot to remove her.  Dorvan assures her that every politician thinks that at some point and, most of the time, the answer is no.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t sometimes true.
 
Daala agrees to stay away from the funeral, but she wants attention diverted from her to something else.  He should light a fire under the prosecutor’s office to get going on the Tahiri Veila case.
 
Make sure everyone knows that she’s not a sweet little orphan, but an assassin who, unlike Daala, actually did kill an admiral.
 
She watches the funeral from her monitor, watching the huge procession, the protest signs, the holocaster, Javis Tyrr, commenting on every dignitary.  Daala turns it down, not caring for the idea of someone narrating her funeral.
 
Then Tycho Celchu, retired, gets up to speak and Daala wonders why nothing is going right.
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chapter 16:
 
Ben can sense the alertness and suspicion in the camp the next morning.  Still, the clan members have a united purpose.  Of course, the Nightsisters will attack again.    Ben is determined to find out who killed Sha. 
 
He goes around asking questions of anyone who might have seen her the day before and what she was doing.  He finds that she was asking about the children of Raining Leaves, specifically their names and ages.
 
Dyon tells him that she was originally of the Blue Coral Divers but was exiled when they put a death mark on her.  There had been a feud between Blue Coral and the Scissorfists.  Blue Coral was a new type of clan with both women and men ruling.  Scissorfists was made up of escaped slaves and some women.  When the clans gathered for a negotiation, Sha was sent as a representative and fell in love with a man from Scissorfists.
 
The negotiations broke down and both were branded traitors for not being willing to fight each other.  They fled into the forest.  Eventually, only Sha emerged, taking out work to support herself, claiming to want to kill whoever killed her husband.
 
Ben remembers what Sha said about the Nightsisters always returning and supplementing their weak numbers by stealing children.  He suspects that Sha had a child that was stolen when her husband was killed. 
 
That’s a big leap, but Dyon doesn’t think it’s impossible.  They go over how she was out of sight for a long time, long enough to bear a child.  No one can hide a pregnancy in these clans.  Even when a child is adopted, everyone knows where the child came from.
 
Ben wonders if Sha had taken time last night to find out about the children in the camp to see if one was hers.  Someone could have lured into the forest with the promise of news and killed her.  He decides to ask around.
 
Under the guise of getting to know the clan members and their ways, he begins asking more questions, this time about their children.  He finds Halliava with her own daughter, Ara who is about the age of Sha’s theoretical child and was born under unusual circumstances.
 
Like Sha, Halliava married of another clan, but they didn’t stay together.  He died in an accident.  She didn’t tell anyone she was expecting so she went on a long scouting mission where she had an accident that delayed her returned.  She nearly starved to death, likely causing Ara’s small size.  Ben cannot help but notice that Ara is about the age that Sha’s child would be.  He also finds Halliava’s story of walking out of the forest with her baby to be suspicious.
 
As it happens, he’s already learned about some of her story.  Her husband had died when she said he did, but no one remembers them being married.  She did go into the forest and emerged months later with her baby.  Ben likes Halliava and doesn’t want her to be guilty. 
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chapter 17:
 
Tahiri is confined to an easily-escapable detention facility with a court-appointed public defender taking the place of Nawara Ven.  Mardek Mool is a Bith.  He warns Tahiri to not admit guilt to anyone, even to herself in private.  He scans this cell for listening devices each time he arrives, but he’s not an expert and he’s not here all the time.  He doesn’t want the GA getting any evidence surreptitiously.
 
He wants to know how much influence Jacen Solo had over her.  Tahiri doesn’t know if she can say.  Mool points out that Jacen could have used unknown Force techniques on her to control her actions.  Most people like to think of themselves as sane all the time, but not everyone can.  It’s well known that soldiers undergoing traumatic events can be emotionally scarred.  Surely, no one can argue that Tahiri herself doesn’t have the right to remain troubled after witnessing her boyfriend’s death and being taken repeatedly into his presence by his manipulative brother.
 
He also warns her that she’s here in a medium-security facility because the GA wants her to try to escape, thus convicting herself, implicating anyone who tried to help her.
 
Mool advises her that the GA is suddenly upping the heat on her because of the flack Daala is taking over Niathal’s death.  He is going to assemble some witnesses who can testify as to the stability of those under the undo influence of others.  He also wants a change of venue because the galaxy’s foremost expert on Sith, Luke Skywalker, is barred from approaching Coruscant for the trial.
 
There’s a growing sympathy for the Jedi in the public eye.  He feels Skywalker must testify for the trial to be fair.  Tahiri needs to start acting like someone who was a pawn in a game.  That’s what she was to Jacen Solo, that’s what she is for the GA.  It’s not a desireable place to be, but it could work in her favor.
 
He also thinks she should accept the GA’s offer to report on any Jedi who committed crimes in exchange for a light sentence.  It could save her from being executed.  Tahiri tells him she’s already considered the deal and won’t accept it.  Mool understands her dilemma, but also suggests she find a better attorney than he.  He’s out of his league here.
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chapter 18:
 
Luke prevails in a weaponless combat contest before rejoining his son.  Ben tells him the Nightsisters will attack tonight.  He tells Dyon to find out what he’s learned.  Dyon starts to speculate that there’s something going on between Yliri and Carrack, but Ben wants him to talk about the speeder bikes.
 
Dyon explains that three speeder bike transponders coming from different directions and meeting at the same meadow.  The signals winked out after that.  Ben thinks they met several other bikes there and were cautioned to disable the transponders at that point.
 
It might be a good idea to move the camp.  That’s easier said than done.  Even if they could get everyone out as fast as possible, the two clans will not allow either one to claim the new camp.  Luke decides it will be a Jedi camp instead.
 
That creates a new problem.  Luke can’t create a Jedi facility under the terms of his exile.  A camp would constitute such a facility.  Dyon creates a banner with Jedi lightsabers crisscrossed on it.  Ben gives him five credits to hire him as a Jedi consultant and the two of them, with Halliava and Drola Kinn from the Broken Columns plant the Jedi flag on a nearby hilltop.
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chapter 19:
 
As the clans move, Ben wonders if his entire life is going to be characterized by war.  When it becomes clear to Drola and Halliava that this is being done to defend against Nightsisters, Ben keeps a close eye out.  Halliava does not leave the camp, however.
 
Dyon is composing a message to his loved ones back home in case something happens to him here.  He explains that he may have washed out as a Jedi, but he wants people to know that he died knowing that there was value to his life.
 
Vestara appears and Ben confronts her about the ship that was spotted in Monarg’s shop.  She denies it’s hers, denies she owns any ship and lectures him about telling his enemies what he thinks.
 
The false transponder codes for the Falcon do not change the fact that everyone knows whose ship it is.  Upon landing, the Solos and Allana are greeted by a small entourage, including Chief Daala.  Jaina takes Allana and Anji with her, while Daala wants to speak to Han and Leia privately.  She doesn’t take long, knowing they are dining with Head of State Fel tonight. 
 
She tells them that she would like them to broker a deal between the GA and the Jedi Order to alleviate tensions between the two sides.  If they will do this, Daala will not execute the warrants for their arrests that are currently in force.  She will dismiss the warrants altogether if they are successful.
 
To do so, she reactivates Han’s commission in the military.  Giving them the terms of her offer, she asks for updates on a daily basis.  Leia knows that Daala is in trouble and is trying to make it look like she’s finding a solution. 
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chapter 20:
 
The press has already gotten wind of the Solos working on a resolution.  Dorvan has sources that gauge these kinds of things.  Sadly, it looks good for the Solos, good for the Jedi, not so good for Daala. No matter how she spins it, it looks bad.
 
He suggests hiring an investigator to look into anyone who may be conspiraing against her.  In the meantime, he does caution her to try to make herself look better to the public.
 
Daala would rather give them a memorable monster if they are intent upon believing she is one.
 
At the Gleaming Fortunes Casino on Coruscant, Moff Lecersen, Senator Bramsin, Senator Treen and General Jaxton meet disguised in costumes on a Theme Night.  Lecersen is the Emperor, Bramsin is a protocol droid, Treen is a Neimoidian and Jaxton is a clone trooper. 
 
Over a game of cards, they talk about how Bwua’tu doesn’t seem all that movable.  There are forces in place to push him into retirement.  If he resists that, he may need to be killed.
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chapter 21:
 
At the Jedi camp, Ben wakes up and sees a tendril of dark side energy creeping overhead.  Kaminne tells him it’s the start of a control web spell that firmly controls animals over a broad area.  It’s nearly impossible to break.
 
As the tendrils spread through the camp, people wake up.  Ben tries to encourage good morale, then the rancors attack. The hillside is defensible, but rancors are adept climbers, too.  Dyon helps Ben fight, using what little Force skill he has to perform acrobatic moves well.
 
Vestara arrives and pulls Dyon out of the way of falling rancor. 
 
After the first attack, Tasander and Kaminne meet wth Ben.  Firen believes there were about 30 rancors affected, judging by the differences in their growling.  Ben wants to contact Yliri and have her bring the Jade Shadow, but Dyon confirms the communications are being jammed. 
 
Tasander scrawls out a new battle plan that the women are reluctant to follow until Kaminne confirms he speaks for her, too. 
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chapter 22:
 
The next attack comes in greater force.  Along with rancors, huge winds swirl around, causing balance to be lost.  By the time it’s over, they’ve lost ten percent of their fighting force. 
 
A Nightsister comes partway up the hill and deposits a white spear which is recognized as a type of temporary truce.  It contains an offer to leave the Raining Leaves alone if they will enslave, kill or push out the men. 
 
Tasander and Kaminne agree on an appropriately-defiant response before returning it for the Nightsister to retrieve.
 
The next attack is focused on Luke’s position near the bottom of the hill.  The rancors bring down boulder-sized rocks, intent on burying him.  Ben spots Nightsisters coming after them.  Dyon prevents Ben from going to help his father, reminding him of his duties here and to not allow his attachments to interfere.
 
Vestara is not so bound, grabs Ben’s lightsaber and jumps down the hill.
 
Luke leaps free of a boulder, uses his lightsaber to absorb Force lightning tossed at him and then spots two rancors headed toward him.
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chapter 23:
 
Vestara lands on a stone and swings a blue-colored lightsaber at the nearest witch.  The two of them battle the women and the two rancors until the monstrous winds subside.  Vestara offers to stay with him, but Luke thinks Ben would like his lightsaber back.
 
Though grateful, Ben is also suspicious.  Vestara returns to the crest and gives him his lightsaber back. 
 
The clan members here are losing faith.  Ben explains to Tasander that their attacks are not coordinated.  The men and women fight separately and move back separately.  Their defenses do not overlap or reinforce each others.  That’s how the rancors get inside and kill people.
 
Tasander works out another plan that requires the two clans to work together in strategically defending the hilltop. Kaminne reminds everyone that she wants to see genuine intermixing when positions are set up and will personally kill anyone she sees abandon a fellow defender who is not of the same clan.
 
Ben sends Dyon down to warn Luke to change his tactics. The Nightsisters are adjusting, so he should, too.
 
The next battle finds the Raining Leaves and Broken Columns far more effective.
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chapter 24:
 
Luke hides under a dark blanket Dyon brought him.  He remembers how the Nightsisters took out Carrack when he became a threat to them.  Luke decides to throw a little Carrack into his fighting and tosses a large number of rocks at one Nightsister. 
 
The Hilltop defenses hold out well over the next couple of hours.  Dyon visits Luke after each skirmish.  The clans do lose members, but several rancors are injured and killed.  By the last engagement, not a single rancor comes against them with no injuries.
 
At the Temple, Han and Leia are greeted by Kenth Hamner’s assistant, Kani Asari, who explains the government has shut off the power, water and waste pickup.  They are on backup generators and recycled water right now.
 
Jaina catches her parents up to speed on event here, telling them that Allana has detailed their experiences on Dathomir. 
 
Kenth Hamner arrives for the meeting.  He gets a look at what Daala wants from them.  Leia mentions that she first wants Sothais Saar on the promise that she will not put him in carbonite.  They aren’t sure if she can be trusted,but Hamner points out that she can contain Saar with ysalimiri the same way the Jedi do and the GA has experience holding other highly-skilled prisoners.  Jaina isn’t eager to trust Daala at all, but Hamner has been put in a difficult position. 
 
In return, it’s suggested that they request that the Horns be thawed, as well.  If the GA doesn’t think carbonite is necessary for Saar, it shouldn’t be necessary for the others, either.  It’s just a good a time as any to test Daala’s sincerity.  If she proves untrustworthy, they’ve only lost Saar.
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chapter 25:
 
The comm jamming ends.  Ben contacts his father to tell him there’s an information gathering of chiefs up here.  In the gathering, Tasander and Kaminne are wed.  The Jedi banner is taken down and the new banner of the Bright Suns Clan is raised.
 
Any clan member wanting to reform Broken Columns or Raining Leaves is welcome to leave and do so, but no one does.  Since the camp is no longer a Jedi one, Luke returns.
 
He tells Ben they will have to figure out what Vestara’s connection to the Nightsisters is.  Then they will have to convince Olianne to let her leave or Vestara to come with them.  Getting information about the Sith from her will be even more difficult.
 
They determine she’s not trying to kill either of them as she’s had many opportunities to do so.  It’s likely she wants to turn them over to her people.  The only way she knows of to get off planet is through the Jade Shadow or her supposedly-crashed ship which may be the one at Monarg’s. She’s made no move to go after either.
 
Luke suspects she’s not planning to leave the planet and is just delaying everyone.  In fact, it’s very likely she landed her ship, gave it to Monarg in exchange for making a hypercomm message that will bring her people here instead.
 
She’s kept the data from the Maw with her so that the Sith will still think she is a valuable asset and be counted on to retrieve her.
 
When the scouts move out, they will have to tail Vestara and see what she does.
 
But Vestara is not sent out.  Halliava is, though, so Luke and Ben trail her, leaving Dyon behind to watch Vestara.  Dyon, however, is a busy man, so Vestara slips away when he’s not looking and meets with Halliava in the forest.
 
Halliava has managed to elude her two pursuers, bringing Vestara’s lightsaber and datapad.  A message is waiting for Ves from a Sith woman designed to remind the Witches of a woman of Dathomir.  She explains that they’ve received her reports and are wiling to aid Vestara’s new sisters.
 
They are compiling the weapons now and will choose a Sith Saber to stay behind in trade for a Nightsister so both groups can learn from each other.  They are in the Dathomir system now.
 
Vestara tells Halliava that they need to find a place for the Sith shuttles to land.
 
When she returns, Dyon spots her bringing water down.  She reminds him the call for water bearers came out.  He knows this.  Dyon doesn’t, however, mention that he knows she was already gone when the call came out.  When she is out of earshot, he comms Luke and Ben.
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