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


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chapter 26:
 
While the Solos sit and drink hot chocolate, watching the Peere Needmo Newshour.  The Temple siege is the lead story, covering Wynn Dorvan’s lunch with Raynar Thul and his subsequent departure, taking Kani’s body with him.
 
The Chief of State’s office has already released a statement expressing sympathy to Kani’s family. 
 
Leia had gotten a message from inside the Temple after sending the rodents in.  Kenth Hamner has responded that they are all well.  Leia has sent another message and gotten a response that they are searching for escape routes, the strike team is ready to leave when it can and asking for a list of supplies.

Needmo extols the virtues of his program and decries the attacks on journalism that have been happening lately.  He puts some of the blame on those journalists who operate outside of professional ethics, taking money to slant their reporting or using technology to illegally obtain information. Such reporters go too far.  He then reporters the arrest of Javis Tyrr for breaking the law; a recording showing him setting an illegal device is available.

Leia knows Jaina wouldn’t have given them the recoding chip, but she thinks she knows who did. Dorvan is close enough to Daala and has the resources to make this happen.  She’s not sure what to think of him.  They hope he winds up on the right side when the time comes.
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chapter 27:
 
Madhi Vaandt is thrilled to hear about the revolt on Klatooine, but wishes she could be there now instead of aboard her ship the Shooting Star.  For now, she’s recording an essay to send to the Perre Needmo Newshour regarding the privilege of seeing Shohta  adapting to his new-found freedom.
 
Tyl tells her there’s an incoming message for her that requires a voice sample.  The message is from Freedom Flight which references the letter that was sent and thanks her for keeping silent for now.  Coordinates are provided for her to meet with one of its representatives.  She is to come alone.
 
Shohto and her team are not sure this is wise.  She’s made many enemies in her campaign against slavery.  This could be an elaborate ruse to get rid of her.  Mahdi, however, believes in her nose for news.  Her instinct tells her this is on the level.
 
A moon over the planet Vartos is the rendezvous point.  She is greeted alone by a Bothan who does not provide his name.  He explains that she may call him Blink.  Freedom Flight has existed for about six years, though there have always been people willing to assist in the escape of slaves.
 
Like many resistance groups, Freedom Flight operates in cells so that only a few may be betrayed if one is captured.  They utilize the lingo of aviators to refer to their movements.  They are not responsible for what happened on Klatooine, though. 
 
He assumes she’s headed there next, but suggests she consider Blaudu Sextus instead.
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chapter 28:
 
Having exchanged information, the ships are moving through the Maw.  The Rockhound hovers over all of them, ready to latch onto any ship that appears to drift. 
 
Ben senses that the dark tentacle is not there anymore.  He explains to Vestara what he felt when he’d been in here before, both at Sinkhole Station and as a child at Shelter.  When Ben decides he doesn’t feel comfortable navigating the Shadow in, Vestara offers to take the controls.  She leads them a bit beyond where they’d seen before, to a bright blue star.
 
It looks different from what she knew it to be, though.  She tells them it’s Abeloth’s world.  Though lovely, its plantlife is hostile.  Abeloth controls everything.  She also expects they will find Ship there. 
 
Vestara is surprised to learn that Ben not only knows about Ship, but had flown it in the past.  She tells them that Ship came to them and felt a close affinity to her.  When it brought them to Abeloth’s world, she had the same sensation of a dark tentacle around her.
 
As the ship continues to maneuver through the area, Luke knows something is different from before.  The presences that they had assumed were a hive mind, but later turned out to be the Mind-Walkers, are gone.
 
Using the sensors, they realize that Sinkhole Station has been destroyed.
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          •    I’m not sure why they are so surprised.  It didn’t seem to me that Sinkhole had much time left when they were here before.
 

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chapter 29:
 
As the three passengers aboard the Jade Shadow recover from their shock at the disappearance of the station, Luke gets irritated to see two Sith frigates moving forward too quickly to navigate the debris field safely.  Sure enough, a collision is imminent.  Rockhound is able to save one, but not the other. 
 
Over time, Luke determines that Sinkhole was designed to contain Abeloth.  Mara had told him she was very old and dangerous, so the idea that he would be able to erason with her is probably naïve.
 
While Rockhound clears the way for the ships, Luke asks Vestara what she knows about Abeloth.  Vestara tells them that the world is unnatural and very dangerous.  When they found her, they were relieved not to have to worry about everything around them.  She was very beautiful, in a way, captivating.
 
Her appearance varied often, depending on who she was around.  Vestara, however, saw her as she really is.  Everyone obeyed her because she kept them safe.  When Ves realized that it was Abeloth that had arranged for plants to attack Lady Rhea, she knew that their protector was anything but.  The next time she looked at her, Abeloth appeared as a creature:  long, yellow hair, tiny eyes sunk into deep sockets, mouth stretching from ear to ear and her arms were like writhing tentacles.
 
Luke saw something similar when he was Mind Walking. 
 
Around Abeloth’s planet, they expect to be attacked at any moment, but nothing happens.  No one can sense her, but she could be hiding her presence.  There is, however, a familiar sensation here.  Ship.
 
Ben knows it’s in despair.  Vestara tells them that Ship was made to serve the Sith.  Abeloth tried to use it against them which caused it a great deal of internal conflict.  If he can be freed from her will, Ship could be useful.  He likes Vestara and doesn’t want to harm her, but he cannot resist Abeloth’s will himself.
 
They will have to land the Shadow. This means they’ll have to take care of Dyon who is conscious, but still under the drug.  Vestara offers to go check on him.
 
In the medbay, Dyon Stad cannot resist the loving voice that urges him to come home.  The Sith girl appears and knows Abeloth is calling to him.  She knows that he thinks they are all imposters. She is playing along with the ones who replaced the real Luke and Ben.  She and her comrades have taken the place of the Sith in order to fight the imposters.
 
Dyon doesn’t believe her.  He thinks they are all fakes.  Vestara explains that they have nothing to gain by that.  Those taking the place of the Sith are working for Abeloth.  After all, Ship is here and is protecting Abeloth.  Ship isn’t a fake.  It’s just a vessel. 
 
She asks if he can lead them to Abeloth.  He tells her he can.  Vestara gives him a medicine that will clear the sedation from his mind and uses the Force to affect the monitor so that Luke will think he’s still drugged.
 
She tells him she’ll be back soon to release the stuncuffs.  He will need to pretend to be unconscious if the others come in. 
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chapter 30:
 
The Jade Shadow lands were the Sith had been, passing the Eternal Crusader stuck in orbit.  Vestara immediately begins cutting down nearby plants which prove to be just as dangerous as she’d said. 
 
Gavar Khai, High Lord Taalon and Captain Faal are among those who land with the Sith.  Luke thinks he knows where to go first, but Taalon believes they should start with the cave where Abeloth has been known to visit.
 
Luke agrees, but thinks a search first is a good idea.  Their sensors are useless here, but he thinks he can search via mind-walking.  Vestara warns Taalon that it’s a dangerous technique that she does not recommend the Sith try.  Luke believes that the problem with the Mind-Walkers on Sinkhole was that they’d been exposed too many times and that they were probably being manipulated by Abeloth.
 
He briefly explains Mind-Walking as a possible tool to target Abeloth.  He believes she was trying to lead him here when he encountered here on the Station.  There is danger, however, as the journey is very pleasant. It’s important that one be strong enough to resist the temptation to stay.  Taalon assures all of them that he will not come back and get anyone who is not strong enough to break free.
 
He chooses Khai and Faal to go with him.  Luke wants Ben to stay behind to watch him and to keep an eye on Vestara.
 
Vestara comes to Dyon Stad and tells him that Luke will be Mind-Walking with three Sith in an attempt to find Abeloth.  The Sith will keep him from finding her.  During this time, Dyon will have to escape and warn Abeloth what is going on.  Tell her that those replacing the Sith are on her side.  She needs to worry about Skywalker.
 
She makes him promise that he will not leave until the right time.  He lies and promises. 
 
As Ben sets up Luke in sickbay with the Ivs and the monitors, Vestara says that Abeloth knows they’re here.
 
Unlike the first time, Luke knows that Mind-Walking takes one to places that have real-life counterparts.  He is on Abeloth’s world now and the Lake of Apparition can be visited in reality if he knows where to find it.
 
On Sinkhole, the guides had been manipulated by Abeloth, intending to take him to her and trap him there.  At least here, among Sith, none of them is working for Abeloth.  Luke had instructed the Sith carefully.  They had learned well, scoffed at the warnings of danger, but all agreed to be monitored.
 
When he arrives at the Lake of Apparitions Beyond Shadows, he waits for the Sith, looking at the Mists of Forgetfulness.  No Abeloth waits for him this time.  Taalon appears, followed by Khai and Faal. 
 
He explains the Lake of Apparitions and the Mists of Forgetfulness. He doesn’t know exactly how they work, but he saw people he knew in the Lake.  That may or may not happen to the Sith.  Luke admits that none of the people he saw were hostile, but he didn’t go as far as the Mists of Forgetfulness. 
 
Luke believes they will find the answers there.  He warns them to walk where he walks.  He had been warned that a wrong step will send them into the Depths of Eternity from which they can never be pulled.  He doesn’t know if that’s really true, but he’d rather not find out.
 
As they move into the Lake, the images appear.  Luke see many he recognizes, but not the one he hoped to see.  The Sith cannot surprise their surprise in the Force.  Though Luke initially doesn’t like the idea of dead Sith passing on wisdom to the living, he soon realizes that these are loved ones to them, too.
 
They move on.  Gavar Khai grabs Luke when the latter starts to fall.  Then Leeha Faal splashes into the water after slipping.  She lands on her hands and knees, but is grabbed by a purple hand coming beneath the water and dragged down below.
 
Aboard the Winged Dagger, her body spasms and falls silent.  The attendants report to the bridge where the former captain, now-second-in-command, is informed that he has his captaincy back.
 
He orders her life support terminated.
 
On the planet, Taalon accuses Luke of tricking them into this dangerous spot.  Luke tells him that he doesn’t know who it was that dragged Faal down.  None of the images he encountered were dangerous.
 
He turns toward the Mists and stops.  He had trusted Mara’s insights and looks for her.  She appears and asks what he’s doing here.  She tells him that he shouldn’t have come back.  Abeloth doesn’t want to be found.  Luke tells her how much it’s meant to him to see her in his dreams and almost touch her before he wakes up.
 
Mara tells him that whoever he’s been with on the ship hasn’t been her.
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chapter 31:
 
Luke’s shock is so obvious that Gavar Khai approaches him with concern.  Mara assures Luke that he couldn’t have known it was Abeloth.  She is ancient and very dangerous.  She is never what she appears. 
 
While monitoring his father’s body, Ben asks if Vestara knows why Abeloth is hiding from them.  Vestara would like to say she’s afraid, but it’s more likely she’s just toying with them. 
 
Ben expresses his doubts that his father’s idea to speak to her will work.  However, the way of the Sith isn’t the right way either.  Vestara can’t even tell him what their goal is here.  He asks her if she gets tired of all the backstabbing.  It might be nice to trust someone for once.
 
She reminds him that it’s a nice thought, but it’s not her world. 
 
When Luke stirs, Ben goes to him, giving Dyon a chance to jump up and race out the door.  Vestara only takes a step back to let him pass.  Luke’s eyes open.  He asks what has happened. 
 
Dyon can’t believe the girl kept her word.  He runs, reaching out to the Force, telling Abeloth that he’s coming.  The plants do not attack him.  He takes it as a sign as he runs to the top of the bank over the beach.  She is at the volcano. 
 
Luke is angry.  Vestara explains she convinced him the Sith were on his side.  He was desperate to find Abeloth and knew where she was.  Vestara put a tracking device on him and it’s working. 
 
Luke still doesn’t trust her.  He mentions that they lost Leeha Faal in the Lake, probably due to someone with a grudge.  Vestara isn’t sorry for the loss.  Apparently, Faal had accumulated a lot of grudges. 
 
Luke asks Ben if he’s felt a feminine presence on the ship.  Ben admits he has, but assumed it was his mother.  Luke confirms that he spoke with Mara in the Lake and she told him it wasn’t.
 
For some reason, Abeloth has a particular interest in Luke. 
 
Dyon finds her at the entrance to her cave.  She catches his hands and looks at him with her gray eyes.  She tells him how his brothers and sisters, scattered abroad, are hearing her call to return.  They will be with her as long as she lives.
 
She cups his face.  He suddenly realizes that she is not what he thought.  Her smile grows cruel, her eyes change and her hair sprouts   her hands grow into tentacles that push into his brain.  A terrible pain sears him, pulling his life energy from him.  He drops to the ground.  She tells him he’s served her well.
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chapter 32:
 
Vestara determines the tracking device leads them to the cave.  The 20 remaining team members move in that direction.  Taalon thinks it’s a trick.  Abeloth has to know they would come there for her.
 
Luke wonders if it’s more like a trap.  They don’t find Abeloth there, but Dyon’s body lays on the floor.  Ben finds he’s still alive, but barely.  Dyon grabs Ben’s shoulder, gasping that Abeloth is not what she seems.  They still seem wrong to him, but he knows that’s due to her influence. 
 
She tried to drain his life energy.  When she sensed them coming, she left him for dead and moved to the back of the cave.  The tunnel leads into blackness.  Taalon cannot sense her in the Force.  Now that they cannot track her through Dyon, they may have to go inside.
 
Luke wants to go in with Ben, leaving Dyon behind with a few of the Sith.  Taalon agrees to leave some behind.
 
The rest head into the tunnel, searching until Luke finds a blue light ahead.  They rush into an old courtyard ruin with a fountain spouting sulfur.  Luke remembers seeing her here Beyond Shadows.
 
Abeloth is there.  She looks human with long, curly hair and eyes of gray.  She holds out her arms to him, telling him she knew he would come.  Luke is stunned.  He knows why she was able to affect him so on the Jade Shadow.  He had once loved her and wanted to be with her forever.
 
It’s Callista.
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          •    Doubtless, we all remember Callista Masana, the former Old Republic Jedi whose presence was trapped in the Eye of Palpatine, moved to the body of Luke’s former student, Cray Mingla, but lost her ability to use the Force.  She left in order to find some way to use the Force that didn’t involve the Dark Side and we never saw her again.  Until now.
 
 

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chapter 33:
 
She tells him she knew he would know her.  Luke hasn’t been so shaken since Darth Vader told him he was his father.  He knows this is Abeloth, but it’s also Callista.  This isn’t an act or an illusion.  Vestara has described various forms Abeloth took when they met her.  He realizes that they were all the way Callista had looked at time in her life.  Callista affirms these thoughts.  She had come here for answers to her quest to find the Force again, but only encountered the needy monster held captive here. 
 
She’d been wrong to leave him, let him marry someone else.  But they’ve found each other again.  Luke wants to help her, take her away from here.  If she would just let him.  Callista will not let him take away the power she’s discovered.  She can make him like her, though.  Luke remembers what Mara told him: she’s never what she seems to be.  His heart breaks.
 
He knows that his Callista is gone.  She had sworn never to use the Force again if it meant using the Dark Side.  He steps away.   Whatever was good about Callista is gone.
 
Abeloth tells him he’s doomed all he loves.  Her face changes, but, in fixating on Luke, she has forgotten about the Sith.  They are sending a web of tendrils out, something learned from the Nightsisters. 
 
She lifts her hands to attack and Luke charges.
 
Jaina can feel Ship out there.  When she finds it orbiting the planet doing nothing, both she and her astromech are confused.  She tells him he’s working for Abeloth.  He explains that he is programmed to obey a strong will.  She is older and more powerful than any of them.
 
Jaina decides to launch a shadow bomb.  Ship sends it off in another direction.  It starts forming its own weapons to use against her.
 
Ben feels the hatred coming off of Abeloth.  He charges after his father, followed by Taalon and Khai.  Abeloth sends her tentacles out and shakes Vestara by the throat.  The girls shoots Force lightning out.  Vines shoots out of the ground, twisting around her.  Ben races to her, slashing at the vines with his lightsaber.
 
She has puncture wounds, but nothing vital has been penetrated.  She asks him to stay with her, saying she’s being poisoned.  Ben can’t find anything that would indicate the barbs on the vines are toxic, but cannot take the chance. 
 
Luke, Taalon, Gavar Khai and two other Sith surround Abeloth.  As they leap toward her, she disappears.  Khai inadvertantly cuts through one of his comrades.  The survivors find her and circle her again.  Khai jumps forward, bringing his blade down toward Abeloth, but diverts it at the last minute toward Luke.
 
Ben jumps onto Khai from behind, knocking him off-balance.  Khai urges him to let his anger flow as it feeds the Dark Side.  The other Sith are using the Force technique to try to trap Abeloth, while Luke tries to destroy her.
 
The Force net is working to prevent her from using the Force.  Ben presses his attack on Gavar Khai until a shock wave hurls him into the sky.  He lands hard and comes to to find that Abeloth is gone.  Luke races down the tunnel at full speed.  The others follow.
 
The three Sith Taalon left behind are frozen corpses.  Abeloth returns to finish off Dyon Stad.  When Luke emerges from the cave, Abeloth tries to tell him that she really is Callista.  He knows that she’s not.  She’s not even Aebloth.  He brings his lightsaber down on Dyon.  Abeloth recoils.  Dyon’s eyes change to nothingness.  Luke feels Abeloth wink out of existence.
 
When it’s over, Dyon is still breathing, but unconscious.  Luke tells them that she’s dead.
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chapter 34:
 
Jaina continues to battle Ship in orbit until it suddenly vanishes into space. 
 
Though there is medication being sent in to the Temple, the deadline is nearing.  Cilghal brings the sedative to her patients.  Shul Vaal approaches her and they watch Sothais Saar sitting at his table, reading.
 
Turi is brushing her hair.  Bann is looking at the transparisteel.  Nothing indicates any type of malady is affecting them.  Careful to make sure there is nothing amiss, they walk to Sothais Saar.  He invites them in.  Sothais tells them he remembers everything and is very embarrassed.
 
He knows he thought they were imposters at some point and it seemed so real.  He cannot explain it. 
 
Hamner is busy fretting over everything that’s going on when Cilghal reports that their three patients seem to have made an inexplicable recovery.  It seemed to happen all at once.  It’s possible Master Skywalker has been successful.
 
It’s news Hamner really needed.
 
Despite the death of Abeloth, both Luke and the Sith agree that there is merit in examining this place to learn more.    They agree to bring two Jedi and three Sith along.  Luke tells Ben to take Dyon and Vestara back to the ship, treat their injuries and contact Jaina and Lando about their new agreement.
 
Taalon had been frozen in place by the creature when she tried to seduce Skywalker.  It had seemed like an eternity.  She had looked inside of him and called forth everything that he feared most.  He wonders if any of the others had been attacked like that.
 
On Jade Shadow, Ben explains the fight to Jaina who tells him that Ship left abruptly.  Ben relates that he and his father, along with Vestara, her father and Lord Taalon will be staying behind to investigate.  Lando and Jaina need to leave.
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chapter 35:
 
In her apartment, Daala opens the door to find Admiral Bwua’tu.  She admits his uncle is giving her some problems.  Bwua’tu warns her not to dismiss him.  Though he’s eccentric and elderly, Eramuth is very good at what he does. 
 
She tells him the last few weeks have aged her, too.  He wonders if the situation with the Jedi and Mandos is what’s causing it.  She assures him that she feels comfortable with that, but the uprisings are going to cause problems. 
 
Mahdi Vaandt is publicizing these otherwise obscure locales.  At least, she could manipulate Javis Tyrr.  The best course of action is to silence the uprisings so there’s nothing to report. 
 
Bwua’tu carefully notes that some of those uprisings probably need to happen.  Though they make her life difficult, it’s doubtful that someone is inciting them just to harm her.  She knows this, but wishes they could wait until she’s taken care of the Jedi first.  She’s not a dictator, but can’t be perceived as losing control.
 
He reminds her that her tactics do not seem to be getting the results she wants.  Using the Mandos against the Jedi is unpopular; using them to stamp out protests would be worse.  She reminds him what Cha Niathal’s suicide note says.  Daala doesn’t fear dying but she’s entrusted with the well-being of the GA.  Every decision she makes is important.  She needs to act now or chaos will erupt. 
 
He tells her they must all do what they must.
 
Bwua’tu ponders the irony of those words as he makes his way to see Kenth Hamner.  He had hoped to pursuade Daala to change her tactics, but knew that would be difficult.  On the way, he realizes he’s being followed.
 
Two Jedi demanding to know what he’s done with the real Admiral Bwua’tu.  He fires at them and the bolts are deflected.  They pursue him, one cutting off his blaster arm.  Bwua’tu gets one in a choke hold with his remaining arm and bites the man’s shoulder.
 
Then he’s knocked to the ground.  He grabs his blaster, realizing that these people are not Jedi.  He would never have lasted this long if that were the case.  He fires at one of the men and passes out.
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chapter 36:
 
The prosecution would like to introduce new evidence: a recording of Tahiri’s conversation with Admiral Pellaeon.  Dekkon explains that the defense has portrayed her as a poor, tormented, lovesick girl lured temporarily to the Dark Side by a powerful Sith Lord.  Her murder of Admiral Pellaeon is painted as that of a minion following orders.
 
The jury hears the recording of Tahiri imploring Pellaeon to back Jacen Solo.  Here, in the present, her reasoning seems so laughable.  It takes the conversation right through her killing of the Admiral and the appearance of Moff Quille.
 
Eramuth will check to make sure it’s not been tampered with.  Tahiri knows it hasn’t.  It’s all over.
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  • Of course, we all know that, by the time she killed Pellaeon, Tahiri had recognized that Jacen was manipulating her with the flow-walking escapades so I don't really see how she can ethically allow that defense of her when dealing with the actual killing.  

 

End of Book 5
 
 
 

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