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"Allies": Book 5 in the Fate of the Jedi series


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chapter 1:
 
Ben Skywalker hopes things will start going right when he’s his father’s age.  For a couple of years after the war, life was peaceful.  Then his father was exiled from Coruscant for a decade, young Jedi who’d spent time at Shelter during the Vong war started going crazy, some weird creepy thing in the Maw may be responsible and they’ve captured a Sith girl from a planet full of them.
 
Her comrades are now surrounding the Jade Shadow above Dathomir. 
 
Luke has followed the direction of the Sith commander of Black Wave.  High Lord Sarasu Taalon invites him over to his ship to discuss the matter and to return Vestara.  Luke turns him down.
 
Taalon goes on to explain that he believes that some problem Luke is having with some of his younger Jedi may be due to a being known as Abeloth.  Their young Sith apprentices are showing similar aberrant behavior. 
 
He proposes an alliance to bring down Abeloth.  Luke would prefer to do this without violence, but admits he will do what’s necessary to heal the young Jedi.  He will not, however, return Vestara and warns that he will expect treachery.
 
It turns out Taalon only wants the information she has about the Maw.  Luke has no problem with her giving him that from the Shadow.  He promises that she will not be harmed in his care.  They agree to share joint leadership of the alliance and information.
 
Ben bristles at helping the Sith.  Luke has no problem with it.  They will do what’s best for themselves and, so long as it is what is best for Luke and Ben, they will be fine.
 
He sets his son to work on the information that Vestara has compiled, as much to keep her from distracting him as anything else.  During this time, a message comes in for Vestara from her father.
 
Gavar Khai understands that, if the situation were reversed, he would not give up his captive so easily.  He takes Luke’s word that his daughter will be safe.  Ben suggests to his father that letting Vestara take a few moments to speak to her father alone would not be harmful.  Luke is pretty sure it will be, but allows Khai a brief visit, provided he come alone and unarmed.
 
Khai and his daughter are allowed to meet in Luke’s quarters.  Luke never promised it would be private.  He has monitors there to listen in on the conversation. 
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chapter 2:
 
Ben isn’t excited about going back into the Maw, but Luke thinks it would be helpful if they called in a favor from Lando.  Ben thinks they might get Lando to find some reinforcements.  After all, Lando isn’t banned from speaking with Luke.
 
While Ben and Vestara go back to find some food,  Luke contacts Lando to ask if he can borrow the Rockhound.  He brings Lando up to speed about how he and the Sith are working together to investigate a suspicious presence in the Maw.  Lando remind him of the groundquakes Kessel experienced not long ago and how he’d felt that there was something more to it.  Luke remembers that, while Han and Leia where there, Allana felt something calling to her.  He suspects that it was Abeloth.
 
Lando arranges to meet Luke at Klatooine with Rockhound.  In the meantime, Ben speaks amiably with Vestara about See-Threepio and a bit about his life, but comes to wonder if she’s pumping him for information.  He asks her some questions.  She’s guarded and they spend their meal in silence.
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          •    The chapter mentions that Luke doesn’t care if Vestara knows about Lando, but I’m concerned about what he and Ben do mention in front of her.  Specifically, she knows Luke is under an injunction not to speak to certain people now.  Is that really something he wants her to know?
 

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chapter 3:
 
Jagged Fel changes the channel when Javis Tyrr comes on to interview Raynar Thul, then changes it again when another station reports on Tahiri Veila.  He finally comes across the Perre Needmo Hour and leave it there.  The newsanchor is interviewing the Devaronian journalist, Madhi Vaandt.
 
She walks through the undercity of Coruscant that is still not reclaimed from the Vongforming.  Her plan is to show the peoples of this planet a side of their world that is never seen: one where beings eke out a living every day with little protection.
 
Jaina Solo arrives to ask him a favor.  Tahiri has already lost two advocates.  At this point, she’s going to get one assigned by the courts and Jaina is certain the court has it in for her.  Jaina would like Jag to find someone willing to represent her. 
 
Tahiri knew she’d miss her freedom, her lightsaber and the ability to decide what she did, but she didn’t expect to miss most the feel of grass beneath her bare feet.  She could avoid this whole thing by doing what she’d done before: betraying those who cared about her.  She’s already been through that: falling under the control of  a manipulative man who gave her morsels of what she wanted, compelling her to kill a decent old man who’d made the right decision. 
 
Jaina has come to her with news that she’s found someone willing to take her case.  He is a Bothan named Eramuth Bwua’tu.  When he arrives, she finds herself facing a dapper, but elderly advocate.  He is the uncle of Admiral Nek Bwua’tu.  The elder assures her that he doesn’t take cases for anyone whose innocence he does not believe in.  However, he is enough of a Bothan to want to win, so he pulls out several sheets of flimsi and begins discussing the case.
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chapter 4:
 
Dorvan tells Daala that Eramuth Bwua’tu, uncle of Nek Bwua’tu, will be representing Tahiri now.  He rather admired Tahiri for refusing the deal that had been offered.  Turning spy on her former comrades seems too much like the life she was trying to avoid.  This tactic really didn’t have his approval, but he doesn’t say so.  It is to the GA’s benefit to make sure she has a fair trial.
 
Daala realizes that her relationship with Admiral Bwua’tu could make his uncle representing Tahiri awkward.  That the elder Bwua’tu has a reputation for being incorruptible is another issue.  Still, she doubts Tahiri has much of a chance of being acquitted.
 
Dorvan has to agree.  He feels sorry for the young woman but being sorry for her doesn’t excuse her actions.  Sul Dekkon, the Chagrian lawyer will be prosecuting the case. He does suggest that she use this as an opportunity to spin in favor of the GA.
 
She should abolish the Jedi court and allow Tahiri to be tried in the same court as anyone else.  It shows that the Jedi neither receive preferential treatment nor special handicaps.  The incident with Judge Lorteli has cost the GA some public opinion.  Though the Judge has been dismissed, the Jedi court is still there, albeit inactive.
 
Dorvan thinks this is a good time to abolish it altogether.  If Tahiri is found guilty, she will be given a proper punishment.  If, by chance, she is not, the GA will at least look like they tried to do the right thing.  He does understand that she was a friend of Gilad Pellaeon’s and is upset about the suicide of Cha Niathal, but she is risking her pursuit of Tahiri looking like a personal vendetta.
 
Daala points out the Jedi would see this as a concession.  He thinks they would be very grateful anyway.  If this is really about what’s best for the GA and its people, she shouldn’t be looking at this like a sabacc game.
 
She wonders if they might be willing to hand over Sothais Saar in exchange.  Dorvan thinks it’s worth an attempt and she loses nothing by doing the right thing.  She also needs to be aware that there have uprisings and protests on various over local issues of religious oppression and slavery. 
 
Daala looks over the list, finds it largely made up of backwater worlds, but is still surprised to find Vinsoth on the list.  The Chevins are quite civilized about their slave tradition.
 
Dorvan also tells her he will be continuing his lunches on the steps of the Temple.  Of late, Raynar Thul has been sitting out there every day.  Dorvan had hoped that he would find out information that would help the GA, but Thul’s chats are largely random.  Dorvan finds that he enjoys them.
 
Daala tells him to keep doing it, but he will be doing so now as her Chief of Staff.
 
On Klatooine, Ben, Vestara and Luke find a desert world.  Luke tries and fails to find out what Vestara’s world is like.  They will take the couple of days waiting for Lando to resupply here.
 
He shows them a representation of a Klatooinian, explaining that they are species that predates the Old Republic.  When the Hutts arrived, the Klatooinians thought of them as near gods.  The Hutts took advantage of this and had them sign a treaty that has put them into Hutt service for about 25,000 years.
 
Klatooinian younglings are taken from their families at a certain age.  Those who are obedient are sometimes given good assignments; those who don’t are treated as slaves.  The Hutts were weakened after the Vong war, but the Klatooinians didn’t try to throw them off.  They are an honorable people and will respect the treaty so long as the Hutts do nothing to violate it.
 
Luke asks for permission to land and to visit the Fountain of the Hutt Ancients.  The rules require them to approach only on foot and with no modern technology.  He decides that Vestara and Ben will go get supplies.  Dyon Stad will come along, too.  Luke thinks he should discuss a few things with their new allies.  Besides, being from Tatooine, he’s had enough sand in his boots.
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chapter 5:
 
Having sent the two teens off with Dyon, Luke takes a nap.  He hadn’t removed Mara’s things from her ship.  He dreams of her, reaches for her when he hears a female voice tell him she’s real, but finds nothing.
 
He shakes and finds tears in his eyes. 
 
Later, he communicates with Lord Taalon aboards the Black Wave.  Taalon really doesn’t want to spend more time orbiting this drab world than necessary, but acquiesces to wait for Lando to bring the tug ship.
 
Luke reminds Taalon that their goal is to stop Abeloth from doing what she’s doing.  They will want to avoid killing her as that may bring harm to their apprentices. 
 
Though Taalon assures Luke he has no desire to visit the surface, and that is true, he is shown by his second-in-command that there is something interesting on the planet.  A glass formation that is called the Fountain of the Hutt Ancients. 
 
It is a sacred object to the Klatoonians who count on the vow made by the Hutts millennia ago to keep the Fountain safe.  When the long-lived Hutts arrived, they were revered by the natives.  It turns out, though, that the new gods were self-serving and took advantage of this.  They tricked the Klatoonians into signing a treaty that allows their young people to be sent to work for the Hutts in whatever capacity they are required.
 
Taalon thinks they can learn a lot from these creatures.  He hadn’t planned on going down to the planet, but he cannot help but look upon this beautiful structure with his own eyes.
 
Luke still can’t shake the feeling he’s being watched.  He feels a feminine touch on his cheek and thinks how much he misses his wife.  He is told that she misses him, too, and they will be together some day.
 
The comm array chimes.  See-Threepio appears and Luke tells him he needs the droid to translate a conversation for him.  He sends it over to the droid who promises to do his best.  Then Luke sits back and wonders what the two teenagers are up to.
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chapter 6:
 
Dyon Stad is a pleasant person to be around.  Ben doesn’t really mind having him as an escort after their experiences on Dathomir.  Though his instructions are to keep an eye on them, Dyon freely admits that he doubts that, so long as they get everything on the supply list, that getting an idea of the lay of the land is forbidden.
 
So, the group explores while getting their supplies.  In a marketplace, Ben notices how curious Vestara is, touching, smelling and looking at things.  She asks many questions of the vendors and is particularly fascinated by an odd fruit that she is told doesn’t grow anywhere else in the galaxy. 
 
It grows in wintrium which is found only here and to analyze it would require them to violate the fountain.  The conversation turns there and Ben notices that, while the grocer amiably discusses the Fountain of Hutt Ancients, his son, Kelkad, doesn’t seem so happy.
 
Kelkad explains how their people were signed over to the Hutts forever so long as the Hutts protect the Fountain.  Ben can tell Kelkad doesn’t think much of this.  While the younger Klatoonian gets them some fruit, Vestara notes this.  Kelkad admits that, while the treaty is legal, he did not sign it and resents being subject to a decision made millennia ago.
 
The Jedi oppose slavery and, surely, they must recognize the unfairness of this situation.    He is approaching the age where he will be taken. He could be allowed to remain here with his father or he could be dragged off-world to fight for the Hutts.  Millennia of slavery in exchange for a few guards with blasters around the Fountain hardly seems equal.
 
He knows Ben can do nothing now, but hopes he will take this back to the Masters at the Temple.
 
On the way, Ben and Vestara discuss the concept of slavery before she starts to choke on a piece of fruit.  After that scare is over, Ben only wants to tell her that he doesn’t want to argue with her.  He asks about her scar.  She explain the fight that she had to prove that she was ready to be trained.  The four beasts she battled fell to her lightsaber but not before one stuck out with a claw that cut her mouth.
 
They are interrupted by a loud scream inside the market.  They run back inside.
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chapter 7:
 
At Mos Eisley on the world of Tatooine, 11-year old slave, Kitaya Shuul, plots her master’s downfall.  Her master is Truugo the Hutt. Though she’s monitored constantly through the chip in her shoulder blade, she’s not too worried about him detonating it.  Kitaya has been trained by her master in several languages, making her useful as a spy.
 
What he does not know is that she has made contact with a group called Freedom Flight, dedicated to eliminating slavery throughout the entire galaxy, not just on GA worlds.  They often engage in freeing slaves through a network, but technology has kept up with the slave trade.  As soon as a way to deactivate the transmitter is found, a better one is developed.
 
So, she accepts her life as a slave so long as she is needed here.  Her life is not so bad as others and she can help Freedom Flight.  Kit arrives as the place formally known as Chalmun’s Cantina, sits down and poses as a beggar.
 
After spotting the Bothan she’d been sent to spy on, she leaves her perch and heads inside, spotting Ackmena, who had returned after going on to a singing career, and tends bar for the socialization it offers.  She is saddened to find that Ackmena is doing business with him.  Kit is even more stunned when it appears that Ackmena is working for Freedom Flight. 
 
That means the Bothan is, too.  Kit learns that he is replacing a Ryn pilot who had been her contact and had been killed.  They cover their story by talking about smuggling wine.  Kit decides to tell her master that they are involved in some smuggling, that’s all.
 
She is uncomfortable when she spots a figure standing in the shadows nearby, watching the door.  When the Bothan leaves, the figure is gone, but Kit has to follow anyway.  The Bothan doesn’t know someone is after him.  When the figure pulls a blade, she springs on it’s back and claws at it’s face.  The Bothan pulls his weapon and fires.
 
He assures her he knew he was being followed.  After proving she’s a slave, he asks her to give Ackmena some news and admits he wishes he could do something for her.  She tells him he already is. 
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          •    Ackmena was the female bartender played by Bea Arthur in the “Star Wars Holiday Special”.
 

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chapter 8:
 
Dyon Stad doesn’t know what’s real anymore.  All of them are gone.  No one is who they say they are.  They’re all imposters.  He doesn’t know why they’ve come to Klatooine or why they are impersonating fruit vendors, but they know he’s thinking about credits.
 
Vestara and Ben are gone.  They must be in on this.  Luke could be, too.  Someone could have captured or killed the real Luke Skywalker and replaced him.  He tells the vendor he doesn’t want to buy anything, but has squeezed a piece of fruit so hard that it’s split.  He gives the vendor too much for the item and starts to leave, running into a guard who tries to give him his change.
 
Dyon pinches the guard’s skin and tells him to sleep.  A scream sounds and he uses the Force to fling objects into the air. 
 
Ben and Vestara had known in the Force that the disturbance was caused by Dyon.  They jump on a speeder to go after the insane man.  Vestara thinks he might go to the Fountain. 
 
She comms Luke from the back of the speeder to tell him that Dyon Stad has gone insane and that she and Ben are in pursuit.  He’s caused some damage, but no deaths.  There are other pursuers, but they are poor shots and she’s deflecting most of the bolts.
 
As Dyon’s speeder approaches the Fountain, Vestara uses the Force to pull him off the speeder he’s taken which impacts against the barrier.  She grabs the man and knocks him out, but the authorities grab him.  Ben tells his father what has happened.  There is no GA jurisdiction here.  Luke hopes to be able to speak with someone about it.
 
Ben does emphasize that it was Vestara who saved Dyon when she could have easily killed him.  Luke only answers that he’s glad she’s honoring the terms of their alliance.  Ben can’t help but be annoyed that his father isn’t going to cut her some slack.
 
She notes his look.  He tells her he’s unhappy that another Maw-dweller has gone barvy.  Vestara admits that seeing it happen is much different than hearing about it.  She is glad that it wasn’t someone he is very close to, though. 
 
He asks if she knows any of the Sith apprentices affected.  Though there really are none affected, he doesn’t know that so she is honest in telling him she doesn’t know any of them, but it would be hard for her.  He points out that Sith don’t care about people. Vestara assures him she loves her parents and her pet Tikk and her friend, Ahri.
 
She didn’t love her master, but respected and feared her.  Ben asks if fear isn’t better than love.  Vestara tells him it depends.  They are about to go back to the ship when an armed guard approaches them and suggests they come with him.
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chapter 9:
 
At the detention area on Klatooine, Ben tells Vestara that their fathers will be here soon.  She reminds him that they could have been elsewhere if he’d allowed her to convince the guards to let them go.
 
Ben points out that the Mind Trick doesn’t work on everyone and could make their situation worse.  Though they can technically use the Force to leave at any time, he thinks his father would prefer they cooperate.
 
This starts an argument about the differences between their fathers.  He notes that she seems close, but distant with her father.  Vestara tells him that Sith require respect from their children.  Ben wouldn’t be so smart-mouthed if he’d been properly beaten when growing up.  He should show more respect to his father when speaking with him.
 
Ben tells her she’s awfully formal with her own father.  She explains that this is just how they are as a culture.  Luke must be a very patient man to broker back-talk from people.  In the Sith world, the more skills one has, the further one advances and that means wealth, power and safety.
 
Her own mother isn’t even Force-sensitive.  Ben notes how odd that is for a Sith.  Her father surely desires advancement that would come with marriage to someone more powerful.  Vestara hadn’t considered that, but assumes that he married her mother because he loves her.
 
Still, Ben can’t help but think that, though she would be upset to lose either of her parents, Vestara can’t have the same fun with her father that Ben has with his. 
 
Luke meets the angry Gavar Khai outside the courthouse.  Khai accuses Ben of forcing Vestara to come with him for this escapade resulting in their detention.  Inside, however, the clerk assures them that neither is being charged as they saved the Fountain from the would-be defiler.  They are detained only because of their age and can be released to their fathers.
 
There is a slight misunderstanding when the clerk notes the friendliness of the young people and mentions they will produce a strong family.  Neither Luke nor Khai will consider that possibility.
 
Luke briefly worries what Ben and Vestara have been up to.  As a Sith, she certainly has had the training in manipulating people.  He doesn’t want to think what she would do to his son’s goodness. 
 
Down the corridor, the two men hear Ben telling jokes and Vestara laughing.  The two teenagers stop and look guilty when they see their fathers.  Khai insists on taking Vestara outside and waiting for Luke to finish their business here.
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chapter 10:
 
After the Sith leave the building, Luke and Ben are taken to a room with a door rigged by Crytoban grenade where Dyon Stad is being held.  It won’t kill the man, but would absorb all heat in the room, causing some damage.
 
The clerk freely admits that they do not have the proper facilities to detain a Force user. Luke is free to take him someplace more secure.
 
Gavar Khai lectures his daughter about helping Ben Skywalker retrieve the insane man rather than capture or kill him.  She reminds him that their plan has been to win the Skywalkers’ confidence.  Now that she has helped Ben, he thinks of them as a team and will encourage his father to think that way, too.
 
Khai tells her to continue to become close to Ben.  Vestara admits Master Skywalker seems to want to keep them apart.  Her father surmises that Skywalker is wise enough to know that a young man such as his son would be attracted to a lovely young lady.  The boy may even hope to sway Vestara to the light side of the Force.
 
Though Skywalker has had some experience drawing Force-users from the Dark Side, he is old enough to know that it may not be possible with Vestara.  She should continue to behave as she has and not give him a reason to be more suspicious than he already is.
 
When Dyon Stad is released to the Jedi, Khai allows his daughter to return to their custody.
 
When Peere Needmo finishes his broadcast, he poses a suggestion to his director and the other news staff.  He explains that some of his guests have commented on the slave situation on several worlds.  He thinks the issue of Freedom Flight is going to be a big story. 
 
He’d like to put someone on the scene and visit some of the worlds, interviewing government officials and insurgents alike.  It’s suggested they use Madhi Vaandt whose recent expose on the conditions in the lower levels was favorably received and has resulted in some change.
 
He’d like her put on two or three worlds, including his own homeworld of Vinsoth.  Though the Chevin have been benevolent masters to the Chev, Needmo thinks it would be hypocritical to fail to report on his own world. 
 
Vaandt will call things as she sees them and the audience can form its own opinion. 
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chapter 11:
 
Eramuth Bwua’tu escorts Tahiri passed the holojournalists on the first day of her trial.  She knows she’s ready and has some hope, having bared her soul to Eramuth, answering every question and taking responsibility for everything she did.
 
Inside the courtroom, she finds that the Solos are there.  She’d doubted she’d had any friends left, not since Darth Caedus. 
 
Sull Dekkon trades a few polite barbs with Eramuth who notes to Tahiri that all the Chagrian has on his side are cold, hard facts.  Though there are some jurors who are unsympathetic to Tahiri, some of them are.  All of them want to do the right thing.  Many times, however, cold, hard facts don’t come into it.  It’s his job to introduce reasonable doubt.
 
The Falleen judge, Mavari Zudan, enters the room.  She is the one who had given Luke his sentence. 
 
Back in her cell, Tahiri is restrained while the Solos enter for a visit.  Leia explains to the guards that she has very personal news for Tahiri and convinces them to wait outside for their own comfort. They agree on the condition that they may still monitor from there.
 
Leia assures Tahiri that everything is fine, but that Luke and Ben have encountered a vision while exploring a place called the Lake of Apparitions which, apparently, allows one to speak to the dead.  Tahiri understands what has happened.
 
Leia confirms that they spoke with Mara, Jacen and Anakin.  She tells him what Anakin said about the Jedi not relying on one person to be the light.  He also asked about her and her well-being, telling them to tell her that he still loves her.
 
Tahiri has held herself in check for a long time.  He breaks down in sobs, knowing this was the closure she had been seeking all this time.  She can let go of the dream of Anakin and know that he will always be with her. 
 
Tahiri tells them she will be alright.  She has too many fences to mend to be executed and she will do it for herself.  Han assures her that’s what Anakin would have wanted.
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As an addendum:  I am leaving today on a long road trip and will not be able to post summaries from the road.  I will resume upon my return on 7/4.

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  • 2 weeks later...

chapter 12:

 
At the Jedi Temple, Kenth Hamner looks over a pile of datapads.  He now has entirely too much to do, so he has promoted a promising apprentice named Kani Asari to be his assistant.  Some people are bothered by this because Luke hadn’t needed one, but Hamner ignores them.
 
Today, she looks tired and he knows she stayed late beyond what she’d promised.  He tells her to make sure she takes time to rest and meditate.  Kani let him know that news coverage of Tahiri’s trial is largely positive.  Nawara Ven is impressed with Bwua’tu’s handling of it.
 
However, Cilghal is still considered about the wave of Jedi snapping.  Two more incidents have occurred within the last 36 hours.  Ben Skywalker had contacted Cilghal with the news of a Force-user named Dyon Stad, as well.  The others are Kunor Bann and Turi Altamik, both humans, the former succumbing inside the Temple.  She has been confined here with no one else knowing about it.  Javis Tyrr had captured the chase after Turi, however.
 
Cilghal fears that the rate of snapping is increasing.  They’ve been forced to sedate Sothais Saar who hasn’t made any improvement.  Hamner wants to speak with Cilghal when she has a free moment.
 
In the meantime, there are requests for the Jedi to provide aid in many places, including those beset with slavery.  That only reminds Hamner of Saar who ought to know how the cause he supported so passionately has gained support.
 
Daala comms him directly, explaining that she’d like to end this whole public dance that has been going on.  She wants Sothais Saar and Turi Altamik.  Hamner reminds her that she has the ability to end this tug of war easily by making a show of good faith.  For right now, she is not trusted to do the right thing.
 
Daala hopes he speaks for the families of the Jedi and then cuts him off. Attempts to raise her or Dorvan are rebuffed.  Hamner has Kani move the meeting of Masters up to right now.
 
Jaina is annoyed when Kani, known to some as Kenth’s Pet, signals her to come to the meeting. For one, she was at Tahiri’s trial at the time.  For two, she is not a Master and is tired of being invited to these things, especially an emergency one when there was already a meeting scheduled for a couple of hours later.
 
Hamner tells them that he was contacted by the Chief of State a short while ago and believes there is cause to prepare for another Mandalorian attack soon.  Jaina points out that the last engagement cost no Jedi lives, plenty of Mandalorians and still only delayed the launch of the StealthXs. The Mandos can’t do anything worse than they’ve already done.
 
Hamner explains that Daala made some references that unsettle him, including whether or not he spoke for Jedi families.  This upsets many of the Masters, though Hamner admits the threat was vague enough to be empty.  Still, Saba thinks they need to launch right now before the Order is crippled.
 
Jaina agrees and believes they can get help.  Hamner isn’t interested in any of her schemes that will likely only make things worse.  When the meeting erupts in arguing, Jaina slips out to find the help she needs.
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  • Just because the Jedi repulsed one Mandalorian attack on the Temple doesn't mean they shouldn't be concerned about additional ones.  Eventually, an attack could kill a Jedi.

 
 

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chapter 13:
 
Ashik explains to Jag that he tried to stop Jaina who only wants a moment alone with him.  In private, she tells him that she needs his help getting the Jedi off Coruscant.  They have a fleet of StealthXs ready to go, but the prior Mando attack has given the GA the ability to watch them.
 
They have to get those ships in the air to help Luke.  He doesn’t know they’re coming anyway, but as soon as they take care of the problem, even Daala will understand how necessary it was.  She hopes Jag can either distract Daala or even give them some ships that won’t be noticed leaving the planet.
 
Jag doesn’t want to lie to Daala or give Jaina Imperial ships to go chasing after some unknown threat.  She tells him that this involves the Sith.  He understands the nature of the problem, but reminds her that he can’t do it.  He can’t ask his people to cause a diplomatic incident that could start a war.
 
Ashik rushes in and turns on the news.  The Jedi Temple is surrounded by Mandalorians.  Javis Tyrr reports that the siege started quickly, indicating the Chief of State has run out of original ideas if she’s reverting back to the good old days of the iron fist.
 
Jag tells Jaina that he will try to talk to Daala about ending the siege.  He cannot do anything else.  Jaina knows she shouldn’t have asked him to do more.  They’ve reached the boundaries of their relationship.  She gives him back his ring and leaves.
 
Daala comms Dorvan to turn on the news now.  She is upset that Tyrr is comparing her to Palpatine, Vader and Jacen Solo.  Dorvan tells her that there have been negative connotations attached to her connection with the Empire in the past. Most beings know they aren’t true.
 
Daala doesn’t think it matters.  No one is reporting on the issue itself without drawing these comparisons.  It needs to stop.  Dorvan reminds her that a free press is not something she wants to meddle with.  Daala thinks they should find her own reporter and hook that person up with an inside connection. 
 
Dorvan points out that laying siege to the Temple is what’s causing these comparisons.  If she doesn’t stop, the consequences for the GA will be even more troubling.  He suggests maybe muzzling Tyrr legally. 
 
Dorvan calls Desha Lor, his assistant, to have her do some digging.
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chapter 14:
 
On Vinsoth, Mahdi Vaandt drinks a Chevin under the table in a cantina.  The loser had put up his slave, Shohta who is stunned to be lost in a bet. 
 
It has been a week since Vaandt and her cam operator, Tyl Krain, had been on Tatooine where she’d become aware of a group called Freedom Flight.  It wasn’t long after her arrival on Vinsoth when she received a letter from them.
 
They are prepared to give her insight into their group so long as she doesn’t mention them publicly ahead of time.  While slavery on Tatooine was brutal, she is getting a personal look at it by viewing Shohta, whom she assures doesn’t have to serve her. 
 
He explains that, if he returns to his old master, he will be punished.  And his master will be penalized for not honoring the bet.  Mahdi sees this issue is far more complicated than she thought.  She does ask Shohti to appear on camera with her shortly.
 
Madhi comes on camera, explaining the genteel handling of slavery here on Vinsoth where the slaves are treated well and their culture allowed to flourish.  She has to admit that, from her experience here, that appears to be true.  Nevertheless, the Chev are still not free beings.  They are considered property and not only can be bought or sold, but, apparently, won in bets.
 
She introduces them to Shohta whom she’d won.  She reminds them how property is often tossed on the gambling table when credits are not available.  This is how she won a living, breathing person who is considered property on Vinsoth.  Questioning Shohta on the camera, she allows her audience to learn that she is able to do whatever she wants with Shohta, from punishing him, punishing any children he may have for offenses he’s committed, forcing him into sexual activities or even killing him.  Madhi tells her audience that the Chevin may have put a pretty face on slavery here, but the reality is very different. 
 
She tells Shohti that she is freeing him.  He admits that even a comfortable cage is a prison and he would like to be free.  He would, however, like to work for her.  Mahdi agrees to that, knowing that Freedom Flight will make contact with her again.
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chapter 15:
 
Allana cannot help but notice that Threepio is acting strangely.  He sees annoyed with himself and that is very unusual for him.  She’s taken to watching him lately, noting that he chastizes himself on how old and outdated he is.  He certainly never says such things to Artoo.
 
So it happens that she overhears a conversation between Threepio and Luke who has asked for the droid’s help.  This whole thing is confusing to Allana who doesn’t think Grandma is supposed to be helping Uncle Luke.  However, they did help him on Dathomir.
 
Threepio offers to give him the data now, but Luke would rather have it sent to him instead. When one is dealing with Sith, it’s important to know what they’re planning.  Allana can’t believe Uncle Luke is working with the Sith. 
 
Anji picks up on her mistress’s startled mood.  Allana grabs her, but it’s enough for Threepio to realize she’s there.  Allana confronts both of them for being sneaky like this.  Luke sends Threepio to get Han and Leia.
 
He explains to them that he used Threepio to translate a Keshiri conversation and Allana overheard them discussing it.  He thought that using a droid and not a Jedi would meet the conditions of his exile.  They explain that Luke is working with the Sith because there may be something in the Maw that’s affecting the young Jedi. 
 
Luke does expect the Sith to double-cross him at some point, but Sith also tend to be counted on to do what’s in their own best interests.  That’s why he needed Threepio to translate something for him. 
 
Though Allana is told some things, there are other things she’s not told about.  Her grandparents assure her that they think hard about what to tell her and what not to because they want her to be safe.
 
Since Luke is allowed to speak to See-Threepio without their monitoring him, they lead Allana to another cabin to watch a holovid.  They find, instead, the news covering the Mando siege of the Temple. 
 
While wondering what Daala is thinking, they are interrupted by Threepio who tells them he’s finished with Luke, but has received a pre-recorded message from Jagged Fel. 
 
Jag explains that they may not know yet about the siege.  Jaina had come to him for help and broke the engagement when he couldn’t give it to her.  He does plan to speak to Daala soon, for all the help it’s likely to do.  However, Jaina always does what she thinks she has to do and he’s concerned she is going to take off on her own. 
 
Han suspects Jaina’s gone to Klatooine on her own.  They will have to stop her.  Leia tells him that they have to stop Daala.
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chapter 16:
 
On the Jade Shadow, Luke realizes how clever Allana is turning out to be.  There has been a lot to deal with today: a snapped Force user has already nearly caused a political crisis.  Then he heard his son telling jokes to a Sith girl who was giggling at him as if she were just a normal teenage girl.
 
They’ve brought Dyon back and have to figure out what to do with him.  The Shadow has a sick bay.  Dyon is strapped to a bed, tranquilized, and hooked to a monitor.  Ben has hung his vor’cha stun stick by the door for security and tells his father he’s going to check on Ves.
 
Luke wants him to tell her that they’re going for a walk and she’s going to be locked in her quarters while they’re gone.  Ben is unhappy with this, reminding his father that she helped bring in Dyon.  Luke reminds him that Dyon is dangerous right now and the Sith have been known to use such people.  Vestara may have helped Ben, but she might have done something different if he’d not been there.
 
While Ben has gone on his errand, Luke reviews the translation Threepio had sent.  The translation is rough and reminds Luke very much of how Yoda spoke, but the gist is there. 
 
A quick personal conversation about her mother turns to the Nightsisters whom Luke is able to determine have been categorized by skills and forced to cooperate.  However, his suspicions that Taalon was lying about the Sith apprentices are confirmed here.  Khai tells his daughter that her information about the Jedi apprentices inspired Taalon to get Luke’s cooperation by claiming the Sith were suffering from the same problem.
 
Further, it would appear that Vestara has been encouraged to get close to Ben, to both learn more about their enemy and to possibly pull him to the Dark Side.  When Ben pops his head in, Luke has him read the translation, too.  He doesn’t think Ben will turn to the Dark Side after all he’s been through, but he does still fear that Vestara can hurt him.
 
Ben brushes that off.  Luke also wants to move the flotilla toward the Maw now and let Lando catch up with them. 
 
Vestara can tell through the Force that something has happened between Ben and his father.  He’d brought her some fruit and seemed upset, but not at her.  After he’d left, she knew that he resents his father’s suspicion of her. 
 
The thing is that he likes her and she likes him so it’s easy for her to play the part.  They’d gotten close to arguing about the pros and cons of slavery in the marketplace, but she’d taken care of that by deliberating choking on a piece of fruit, knowing she could dislodge it with the Force.  Their mutual teamwork stopping Dyon Stad, combined with the time spent in the detention area, had been entertaining, too.
 
When Ben returns, though, his anger is cold and is directed at her.  He tells her they are taking off now and letting Lando catch up with them.  She knows something has changed Ben’s opinion of her.  She’d enjoyed being his friend, so is troubled by his coldness.  She wonders why he couldn’t have been born a Sith.
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chapter 17:
 
Luke knows he made the right decision when he’d dreamed about the loving female presence again.  She’d draped over him and told him he needed to go to the Maw.  She assures him she’ll see him again there.
 
When he gets up, he checks on Dyon before sending out a message.  Lando responds quickly, unhappy, but knowing that it can’t be easy for Luke to deal with a mad Force-user and a bunch of bored Sith.
 
Taalon agrees with Luke that, while the ship sounds useful, he doesn’t want to delay the search for Abeloth any longer.  Luke doesn’t tell him that he knows that there are no affected Sith apprentices.  Taalon would like to leave a small group of ships behind to wait for Lando in case there is a problem.
 
Luke doesn’t like the idea of leaving Sith vessels behind on Klatooine, but communication with the Maw is impossible.  They negotiate two ships to be left.
 
Taalon calls his second, Leeha Faal, to tell her she’s getting her first command.  She will take the Winged Dagger on a mission that she originally brought to his attention.
 
Though Ben had expected betrayal, learning about it doesn’t lessen the sting.  He can’t confront Ves about it because Luke doesn’t want them tipping their hand yet.  There may be more opportunities to translate Keshiri conversations. 
 
Vestara thinks she needs to learn about the Jade Shadow’s sick bay.  It’ s possible that something could happen to them which would require her assistance.  There’s also the chance she may have to subdue Dyon Stad in their absence.  This would, of course, require that they let her door stay unlocked when they leave the ship.
 
Luke takes her back for a few moments before returning.  Ben can sense that Vestara is a good person.  She reminds him of Tahiri, not fully Sith.  He asks Luke if Gavar Khai would kill Vestara if she disappointed him.  Luke admits that he believes her father cares for her very much, but he is demanding enough that he would kill her.
 
Ben has his answer.
 
Having arranged for the deaths of her main competition, Leeha Faal had maneuvered her way into position on the Black Wave, knowing that Lord Taalon’s star was rising.  Now, it appears that she was right to ally with him.
 
Now she is in orbit of a planet, in command of her own ship, ready to complete a mission that will please her commander.  The previous captain of this ship is handling his demotion to her second-in-command quite well which can only mean he’s plotting her downfall.
 
Though it’s not technically true that two vessels are being left behind by the Sith, Taalon justifies his deception by the fact that Lando Calrissian will be able to catch up to the two  when he does arrive.  It’s just better for the Sith not to be here when the Rockhound shows up.
 
When Faal receives word that the ship will be here in twelve hours, she sends orders to the captain of the other ship.  Vyn Holpur of the Starstalker jumps at the chance to restore the favor that had been lost due to some kind of scandal that had stopped his rise.
 
He flies a small freighter along the sand to the Fountain of the Hutt Ancients.  Wanting to please Lord Taalon, he ignores the warnings that he’s getting too close.  When he gets within the forbidden zone, he releases a skiff with several Sabers aboard.  Two of them leap off and begin shaving some samples of wintrium off the Fountain.  They cannot believe the minimal defense for a structure that represents a 25, 000 year old treaty.
 
Several Klatooinians protest and try to stop the desecration, but the Sith continue, largely uninhibited. 
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chapter 18:
 
Holpur is told the Elders are demanding they stand down and surrender themselves.  He finds it amusing that even their palace has few defenses.  When told the Klatooinians are trying to contact the Hutts, Holpur doesn’t care.  He knows the Hutts care little for this world and their response will take days.
 
The Elders muster the few defenses they can send from the Palace, while waiting for the Hutts to come protect them.  Though the desecration has already occurred, the Hutts will make them pay.
 
Lando Calrissian has finally arrived in the Rockhound to find that the rest of the Sith have gone.  Faal tells him that Master Skywalker wanted to proceed early and left the two ships behind to wait.
 
Lando is irritated that he worked so hard to get the ship going only to find that Luke has left such a nice welcoming committee behind.  His crew is composed only of droids.  One of them is an interactive model, RN8.
 
A group of ships drops out of hyperspace and opens fire on the Sith.  Lando gets an urgent message from Faal, requesting aid.  The Hutts are obviously riled at these guys.  Lando has some allies on the planet, but doesn’t want to get on their bad side if the Sith did something to upset them.
 
He’s tempted to fire up the ship and head into the Maw without them.  More Hutt ships arrive, making the prospect of rescuing Luke’s new friends unlikely.  Then a Jedi StealthX appears containing Jaina.
 
She docks with Rockhound so they can figure out how to handle this situation.
 
Lando hails one of his contacts on the planet and name drops the Chancellor to get permission to land.  Jaina tells him that the Jedi were going to send StealthXs to help Luke so that he wouldn’t have to deal with a whole tribe of Sith, but Daala’s got the Temple under siege.
 
Darima Kedari, Chancellor of Klatooine, turns out to be a friend of Lando’s.  He explains that the crew of the Starstalker has violated the forbidden zone of the Fountain and taken samples of the wintrium.  They quickly explain to Jaina the seriousness of this situation.  What she understands is that the treaty is broken if the Hutts don’t deal appropriately with the desecrators of the Fountain.
 
According to the treaty, if there’s ever a question of violation, at least two off-worlders must be present to render judgment.  Very few come here that are not on Hutt business. He thinks it’s telling that both Lando and Jaina are here on this very day.   He doesn’t want to admit trusting Lando to be fair here, but he does and will take the word of a Jedi.
 
Jaina doesn’t want to leave Luke alone with the Sith any longer than necessary, but the fate of an entire species rests here and it’s unlikely that anyone else will be fair.
 
Lando challenges her as to what will happen if she determines the Hutts did everything they could.  Could she tell the Elders that they are doomed to continue their servitude.  Jaina tells him she’s made many decisions based on what was right that she didn’t like.  The Sword of the Jedi is about justice.  She thinks she can make the decision.
 
If Lando doesn’t want to do it, he can take Rockhound and join Luke.  Knowing she’s not likely to find another impartial off-worlder, Lando agrees to help.
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chapter 19:
 
Lando and Jaina fly over Klatooine, seeing the remains of the violence that had erupted when the Fountain was maligned.  There are thousands of beings surrounding the Fountain itself.  Darima escorts them both into a room to await the other representatives.
 
They only need to listen to everyone and trust their instincts.  The Elders come in, followed by two Sith and a Hutt on a repulsorsled.  Darima explains that Captain Leeha Faal and Captain Vyn Holpur are charged with violating the no-technology zone, killing several guards and physically damaging the Fountain itself. 
 
Tooga Jallissi Gral is the Hutt charged with defending this world and is now accused of dereliction of duty.  Darima explains the events leading up to the desecration, as well as recordings of the warnings given to the ship.   There is no recording of the desecration itself as it’s considered blasphemous to direct any technology toward the Fountain.
 
Captain Faal explains that their vessels have been here for days, respecting all rules and even preventing a prior attempt at desecration when an apprentice named Vestara Khai stopped Dyon Stad from flying a bike into the Fountain.
 
She gives up Holpur, telling the room that he acted of his own accord.  He lies and says he did, thinking his masters would want samples of wintrium.  A search of the vessels found no samples, though. 
 
Despite the lack of hard evidence, Faal offers the crew of the Starstalker to the Klatooinians.  Darima turns to Tooga, noting that Captain Faal doesn’t think she should be punished despite admitting that a violation did occur.  Tooga reminds him that the Hutts came immediately and surrounded the Sith ships.  They kept their part of the bargain.
 
Jaina doesn’t think minimally protecting the Fountain and then showing up after the fact counts as protection.  Tooga reminds her that they are doing the best they can as any species that suffered under the Vong have.  No one could have stopped the desecration, but the Hutts did respond and stopped the threat.
 
Lando thinks they’ve heard enough. Sequestered while making their decision, Jaina admits she doesn’t know what decision to make.  Either way, the Klatooinians suffer.  She doesn’t believe that Holpur acted on his own or that the Hutts did much to prevent this from happening.
 
Lando points out that her bias against the Sith leads her to believe they are lying.  They have to go with facts.
 
Half an hour later, they emerge with their comments.  Darima reads the decision.  It is determined that the Starstalker deliberately violated the Fountain and that the Hutts, though not fulfilling the letter of the Treaty, did fulfill it in spirit by their attempt to retaliate.  The Hutts had no way of predicting the unexpected attack on the Fountain which has not occurred in the 25, 000 years that the treaty has been in force.  For this reason, they are not considered derelict in their duty.
 
Darima doesn’t blame either of them for the decision that was made, but it hardly matters now.  There are riots occurring all over Klatooine.  Though the people here have lived, even unhappily, under the treaty for all these millennia, there are some who just needed an excuse to try to void it.  The Starstalker gave them the excuse.
 
Doubtless, the execution of the Starstalker’s crew will make little difference. 
 
He appreciates their attempt to find justice, but they should leave now while it’s still safe.
 
Leeha Faal assures Holpur that his family will be rewarded for his actions here.  She expects he will face his execution bravely along with his crew.  Their families will be remembered.
 
She walks away, taking care of some unfinished business as she goes.
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chapter 20:
 
Belok Rhal is the Mandalorian in charge of those surrounding the Jedi Temple.  Daala has told him that she wants Sothais Saar and Turi Altamik.  If the Jedi surrender them, the mission is over.  If not, he’s been given free rein to handle the situation.
 
He gets on the amplifier and tells them that they have refused the demands of the Chief of State and have 36 hours to comply or there will be consequences.
 
Inside, the Masters know there is a problem.  Kyle Katarn reports that there is enough vehicles and weaponry to cause a lot of damage to the Temple.  Further, apprentices have been sent to all of the Temple exits and even the formerly-hidden ones have a Mando at them.
 
Octa Ramis suggests they find other exits.  The Temple has been destroyed and rebuilt before, so there could be exits that no one knows about.  She thinks they should give the apprentices something to do and find one.
 
Cilghal adds that they are running low on the sedative needed to keep the ill Jedi restrained.  Kyle Katarn is worried that the Mandos may stretch boundaries, especially if civilians start protesting. 
 
Jaina has gone to find help, but they haven’t heard from her.  Kani reports that the Mandos are jamming communications so that it’s one way.  Rhal or Daala call in, but they cannot call out. 
 
Corran jumps on Hamner for trying to appease Daala under these circumstances.  Hamner reminds him that, all he needs to do to solve the problem is to let her have Saar and Altamik.  They’re in this situation because they keep refusing Daala, not appeasing her. 
 
Octa suggests they send someone out to the front steps to talk to Rhal and discuss terms.  Perhaps they can get the deadline extended.  It’s really the only thing they can try at this point. 
 
Hamner offers to do it himself, but the Masters won’t chance Daala taking the opportunity to capture the acting head of the Order.  Kani volunteers. 
 
She’s clearly not a threat to them and might get farther than an master would.  Besides, this is the Galactic Alliance.  Even Tahiri is getting a fair trial.  Hamner decides to allow it, provided she goes unarmed and doesn’t give them any reason to fire on her.
 
She walks to the top of the steps, holds her hands out to prove she’s unarmed and then descends.  From the monitors at the entrance of the Temple, the Masters watch as Rhal walks toward her.
 
She greets him.  He notes that she is neither Sothais Saar nor Turi Altamik.  She admits she’s not, but explains she’s been sent by Master Hamner to negotiate the matter.  He pulls out a blaster and shoots her dead.
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chapter 21:
 
Inside the Temple, the Force ripples in outrage as the Masters and Knights react to the murder of an unarmed girl.  Rhal announces that he is here to retrieve Saar and Altamik only.  He will not negotiate with anyone.
 
Any attempt to leave the Temple or retrieve the body will be handled the same way.  They have 24 hours to turn over the Jedi before the Temple is leveled.  Kyp is ready to barge out there and grab Kani anyway.
 
Saba tells him that they will strike at Daala when the time is right.  She hired this mercenary and is responsible for his actions.  Kenth Hamner can only lament his sending her out there.  Octa reminds him they all thought she would be safe.  Corran tells them all that no one is safe.
 
Kenth Hamner sits watching Kani’s body on the monitor long after the others file out.  Octa and Seha try to get him to eat, but eventually give up to go organize the apprentices. 
 
He doesn’t know what to do now.  When his comlink chimes, he’s surprised to find Admiral Bwua’tu on the line.  The admiral explains that Mandalorians who fought inside the Temple have recordings showing there is a build-up of StealthXs inside.  Bwua’tu doesn’t know what they’re for, but he does explain it would seem the Jedi are up to something.  The Chief of State doesn’t know about this and he really doesn’t want to tell her.
 
She will likely assume that they are going to be used against the GA and would assault the Temple immediately.  Hamner admits that the buildup has nothing to do with Daala, but about another threat.  Bwau’tu doubts Daala would listen, but he is willing.
 
He asks Hamner not to launch the ships until he gives a signal.  Hamner doesn’t want to cooperate.  Bwua’tu tells him that Daala will fire on them as soon as they do.  He cannot stop her unless the relationship between her and the Jedi improve.  They both know his relationship with her puts him in a unique position to help here.
 
He guarantees the fleet will cooperate so long as the StealthXs are not used against the interests of the GA.  Since he’s the head of the Navy, he can use them covertly if he has to.  He feels that having the Chief of State and the Jedi at odds is not beneficial to anyone.  Both sides are reacting to each other and that’s not working. 
 
Hamner knows Bwua’tu is sincere, but he cannot take this to the Masters for a vote.  They will not listen to him.  He makes the deal, urging the admiral to move quickly.  The longer the delay, the worse it will be for everyone. 
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          •    Seha is Octa Ramis’s apprentice.  I’m sure we remember her as one of Jacen Solo’s lackeys during the LoTF series.
 

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chapter 22:
 
Sul Dekkon calls Tahiri to the stand.  Eramuth had cautioned her about answering only the questions that are asked and told her about the Temple siege so it would not be a surprise revelation while she’s on the stand.  This actually works in their favor.
 
Dekkon starts by asking about her relationship with Jacen Solo.  She explains that she knew Jacen for half of her life, admits they were involved, but that there was no love there.  The events of her life are gone over up to the moment where she began working directly for Darth Caedus.
 
He began giving her orders that most beings would find unpleasant.  Tahiri admits many people took orders from him.  Dekkon finds the excuse of following orders to be amusing, but points out that Caedus wouldn’t have gotten as far as he did without those willing to follow his orders.
 
Eramuth objects that most of them are aware of what Jacen Solo was capable of doing to anyone who crossed him.  A military organization, incidentally, does not work the same way a civilian corporation does.  Crossing a superior officer is grounds for severe punishment under normal circumstances.
 
The objection is sustained, so Dekkon moves on to whether or not the order to assassinate Gilad Pellaeon was a direct order from Solo.  Tahiri is forced to admit that the orders, as phrased by Jacen, did not specifically require her to kill Admiral Pellaeon.
 
Eramuth, on cross-examination, asks her if Jacen had taken the identity of Darth Caedus by that time.  She explained that he had and had not bothered to hide it from her.  He asks her to provide some background so the jury can understand what a Dark Lord of the Sith really is. 
 
She goes into her background with Jacen, flow-walking many times to undo various regrets.  Though Jacen had implied that the practice was dangerous, she found out later that it wasn’t and that she’d been manipulated into believing she was changing small bits of the past.
 
Eramuth asks why she kept going back even after believing she’d accomplished her initial goal of kissing Anakin Solo before his death.  Tahiri tells him that Jacen always made her feel that there was something else unfinished and it was hard for her to resist the temptation to go back anyway.
 
Eramuth doubts anyone in the court would not want to see the face of someone they lost one more time. He asks if she was ever tempted to change more, such as saving Anakin.  Tahiri admits she was tempted, but Jacen had her convinced it would jeopardize the future.
 
Doing so is counter to everything she learned as a Jedi. Eramuth points out that some consider her a Sith.  She tells him that she doesn’t think she was, but knows Jacen was because his eyes changed color.
 
He presses her to describe the personality of a Sith Lord. She explains how they often hint, rather than blatantly state, their intentions.  They allow you to believe what they may do to you or someone you love.  They have the ability to use the Force to kill someone, sometimes by crushing their windpipe, sometimes with electrical energy.  Jacen Solo killed a prisoner during interrogation by forcing his way into her mind.
 
Eramuth suggests that they all consider what might have happened to Tahiri had she disobeyed even a suggestion by the self-titled Darth Caedus. 
 
The door opens and Tahiri looks up to see Anakin Solo there.  She is stunned and the crowd murmurs.  The young man tries to step out, but the judge calls for order.  Tahiri calms as she realizes that this is Dab Hantaq.  She hadn’t expected to see him here.
 
The Judge has Dab find someplace to sit, but allow a small recess so Tahiri can compose herself.  Tahiri realizes that Eramuth arranged this appearance.  He admits he did.  They do not have the luxury of facts being on their side.  Only the moving story of Tahiri’s life gives the jury any sympathy for her. 
 
He wants them to empathize with her and everyone just did as her surprised reaction wasn’t faked.  When they win this case, she can have the rest of her life to hate what he did.
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          •    Tahiri keeps making suggestions on the stand that the jury and audience surely know what a Sith Lord can do.  Good thing she’s got Eramuth because I’m not convinced they do.  We’ve seen over a long period of time that the Sith are a bit of a mystery to the general population.  As for their abilities, we’ve seen examples of Jedi using the Force to choke a person or emit Force lightning.  To the public at large these powers do not necessarily extinguish a Jedi from a Sith.
 

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chapter 23:
 
The Rockhound is the ugliest thing Ben has ever seen.  It is very large and has a hundred telescopic legs hanging from its belly.  Ben take them in so Lando can show Luke the virtues of the tug before it’s taken into the Maw.  They also get the impression he needs to tell Luke something.
 
Luke prepares to take the Headhunter out, cautioning Ben to keep an eye on Vestara. He knows his father doesn’t trust her.  He doesn’t either, but can’t help but think how much he likes her.  Luke says they’ll talk about it when this is over.
 
He’s surprised to find Jaina aboard.  Lando explains how the Sith desecrated the Fountain, requiring he and Jaina to make a decision that is not likely to prevent a revolution anyway.
 
Luke laments allowing the Sith to leave any vessels behind, knowing that he can’t trust them.  He asks what Jaina is doing here.  She tells him about the additional Jedi falling ill and Daala sending Mandos to retrieve them.  It’s overkill.  She’s not being rational and, in Jaina’s mind, that’s enough for Luke to disregard the agreement and get some help out here.
 
Luke tells her that he thinks he’s close to finding out what happened to Jacen and getting a cure for what is happening to the Shelter Jedi.  Daala doesn’t think the Jedi can be trusted.  If he doesn’t keep his word, she will be right.
 
When he returns to the Jade Shadow, he has Ben open a channel to Lord Taalon.  Though Ben and Vestara know nothing of what happened on Klatooine, it’s clear Taalon does.  He sticks to the story that Holpur acted on his own.  Luke is adamant that he doesn’t believe him, leaving an entire ship’s crew to suffer because he wanted a few samples of glass.  As it is, he can only expect to be treated the same way eventually as they head into the Maw with one less ship than they had before.
 
He would like to revisit Sinkhole Station first, hoping to find useful information.  Ben knows his father isn’t look for information so much as he hopes they can repair it and bring it back to its proper position.  Somehow, this station is keeping Abeloth where she is.
 
After making some arrangements as to the order in which they will proceed into the Maw, Luke tells Vestara and Ben what happened on Klatooine.  He doesn’t believe the Sith account of what happened at all.  Jaina came out to report on the situation on Coruscant and will be joining them in the Maw.
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chapter 24:
 
Daala doesn’t move as the girl drops dead on camera.
 
She had told Belok Rhal to do what was necessary to get the two Jedi patients, but hadn’t expected this.  She has to remind herself that Kani Asari was a young woman, but not a child.  She was not innocent.  Still, Daala turns the station when the camera focuses on the body.
 
She finds coverage of a revolution happening on Klatooine after the attack on the Fountain of Hutt Ancients has led to the overthrow of the Treaty of Vontor.  Dorvan buzzes her, telling her that it’s never good for the public to see an unarmed young woman gunned down.
 
She reminds him that Jedi are never unarmed and that it might make Hamner think twice about being uncooperative.  She doubts the Jedi will try that tactic again and that will save lives. 
 
He doesn’t really agree with that, but moves on to the situation on Klatooine which will surely help fan flames going on at Blaudu Sextus.  The media doesn’t seem to have picked up on that way because the planet is out of the way.  The police force may not be able to handle a true revolt there.
 
She decides they cannot risk the government there falling.  Dorvan doesn’t think it’s a good idea to get involved in the internal politics of another world.  She thinks that overthrowing the government of Blaudu Sextus may endanger nearby worlds if the rebels get grabby.  Freedom Flight will probably step in and egg on all manner of dissidents, resulting in uprisings all over the Outer Rim.
 
He warns her that the slaves there are pacifists.  She cannot have armed GA guards sent against them.  She decides to have Belok Rhal sends a Mando brigade to put it down.  Dorvan doubts it will be better than GA troops and will probably be worse.
 
Daala tells him to use a mining company on the planet to wash the payment to the Mandos through so that there’s no evidence connecting them to the GA. 
 
In his office, Dorvan doesn’t know what to do now. Desha comes in, her eyes swollen with crying.  She tells him it’s the Solos again.  He doesn’t have time to deal with what is likely a very angry pair of legends.  Daala had also made it clear she didn’t want to speak to anyone in that family until the situation is under control.
 
He tells Desha he can’t speak to them right now and has her patch him through to Belok Rhal.  He starts to give Rhal instructions, then realizes that it’s almost lunchtime.  Any minute now, Raynar Thul should come down the Temple steps.  
 
Not even Mandos might stop him.  He warns Rhal that he’s been speaking with Thul for months now and thinks he might be able to convince him to help.  He doesn’t think Rhal believes him, but Dorvan cannot take the chance that another unarmed Jedi is slaughtered in front of the Temple.  The public relations for the GA would collapse.
 
Rhal refuses to accept new orders from the Chief of State.  He answers to Daala, not her underling.  He won’t fire on Dorvan who is not a Jedi, though.  If he’s right that Thul will be out there, he’d better hurry.
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chapter 25:
 
He shouldn’t be running across the square to the Temple, but time is of the essence.  They take their time clearing him and escorting him to the steps, though.  Raynar comes out, telling Dorvan he’s taking a risk coming here now.
 
They sit down and Raynar gives him half his sandwich.  Quietly, with weapons aimed at them, they eat.
 
Leia calls for Han to come look at the screen.  Chief of Staff Dorvan is running up the steps of the Temple.  Javis Tyrr confirms this and that Dorvan is sitting there with Raynar Thul, intent on keeping his regular lunch break on the Temple steps. 
 
Leia thinks she’s figured out a way to help the Jedi.
 
Octa Ramis and Seha Dorvald have been exploring the Teple with several apprentices for hours.  There isn’t anything, thus far, large enough for the smallest apprentices to get through.  However, there’s also no evidence that the Mandos have learned about these airholes.
 
Octa calls her to a small supply room that holds boxes.  There are at least three rodents there with something tied to their backs.  Octa tells her that they’ve come through everything big enough to get through.  Master Horn noticed that each one has a vial of sedative that can be used to help the sick Jedi.
 
If someone can get medicine in, they can get messages out. 
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