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"Conviction": Book 7 in the Fate of the Jedi series


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chapter 1:
 
In the Jedi Temple infirmary, Cilghal handles the decarbonization process of Valin Horn while wondering where Bazel Warv and Amelia Solo have gotten into.  Both reek of something odorous.  His pod monitor flickers out for a moment, causing his status to revert to dead.  But Cilghal doesn’t feel his life has winked out yet.
 
Tekli checks on Jysella.  They ask both Horns if they can speak.  Both can, but their eyesight is gone for right now.  Jysella and Valin sense each other in the Force and reach out.  Jysella strains to find her mother.
 
Cilghal sends everyone else out but Corran and Mirax.  They wait to see if the siblings retain any part of the malady that caused their paranoia.  Cilghal would like to monitor them for a few minutes without anyone speaking to them.
 
An apprentice named Josat comes in to help. 
 
After the Horns are dismissed into the waiting area, Leia asks Allana what she’s gotten into.  Han quips it must be garbage compacter 3263827.  Allana is noncommittal there.
 
When alone together watching Josat set up the evaluation, Cilghal and Tekli wonder about the failure of the pod monitor.  They speculate that Valin had been using the Force technique that allowed him to blank out the encephaloscan when he was frozen. 
 
That could mean that he kept the madness that went along with that ability.  Or it could mean that it was just a spike left over.  Neither likes mysteries.
 
Josat was chosen because of his constant chatter.  He talks to the siblings while evaluating their progress, telling them they are far away from anyone else in the Temple, but making sure they know to take the stairs if there’s an emergency.  That’s the bait.
 
Neither of them make a grab for Josat’s lightsaber.  It’s been rigged to emit stunning gas if they try to switch it on.  They do nothing.
 
In the medbay, though, Valin feels warmth and relief from the people pretending to be his parents.  He wonders if maybe they don’t realize the truth.  They could be clones with memories implanted. 
 
The apprentice’s lightsaber hangs within reach, but Valin and Jysella need to know more first.  They smile at each other.  They are not alone.
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     •    In Outcast, Valin had previously displayed an ability that only Jacen Solo had and demonstrated in the Dark Nest trilogy.  It would then appear that he still has that ability if he is not really cured.
 
 

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chapter 2:
 
Near Meliflar Station close to Almania, the Jade Shadow, Luke can feel living beings aboard it.  Ben thinks it could be pirates or smugglers.  It’s also possible that Abeloth is there.  They have been tracing the Dathomiri blood trail, but it is faint. 
 
Vestara is sure she is here, though.  There are shapes and shadows in the Force that lead her to believe that Abeloth came here with Ship. 
 
After landing, they find there’s no one in sight.  Luke announces who he is and that he is not here to shut down the operation.  A container collapses, revealing two humans with vibroblades and blasters.
 
They fire stun bolts only as the two Jedi and Vestara hold them off.  The attackers are joined by more, but ultimately have to call off the attack.  Luke wants to know who’s in charge here.  He’s told it’s someone named Hallaf who is in the brig because he was being influenced by someone with no business sense.  Cardya is in charge now.
 
It appears that a slender woman with brown hair and silver eyes arrived in a ship shaped like a ball.  She’d spoken briefly with Hallaf and left right after that.  Hallaf explained to the rest that three Jedi would be arriving soon.  They were to kill the Jedi quickly by using explosives, but the pirates decided they wanted to capture the yacht.  They threw Hallaf and his daughter in the brig and set up the ambush instead.
 
Luke can still feel a pulse of dark side energy here.  He asks them to escort the group through the station.  Hallaf is a middle-aged man with a gray beard.  His daughter is stretched out on a cot, the whites of her eyes only showing.  Luke feels the energy coming from her.
 
Hallaf explains her name is Fala and blames Cardya for what is happening.  Luke touches Fala’s forehead.  He asks if she’s studied the Force.  Hallaf tells him his daughter has felt things for years, but she’s never studied as a Jedi.  When that woman came, she asked for wine.  When Hallaf returned with it, his daughter was like this.  The woman told him that she would die unless the Jedi did.
 
Luke sits down to try to help her, telling Ben to lock down the command center and keep all occupied areas under surveillance so they won’t be surprised.
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chapter 3:
 
Through the Force, Luke feels Fala’s energy building.  He can catch touches of memories of the Shelter Jedi Knights whom Abeloth wants back.  He can sense the self-sacrificing touch of Callista.  He sees and feels dark places. 
 
When he pulls back, weary, worse for the wear after his fight with Abeloth, Fala opens her eyes.  Luke tells her to watch her thoughts, emotions and dreams for the next few months.  If she begins experiencing abnormal things, she must consult a Jedi.
 
He tells Hallaf that he has bigger things to worry about than a few smugglers.  He’s after the person who would use up another just to distract her pursuer.
 
Luke tells Ben they are going to Nam Chorios.  Abeloth is calling to the Shelter Jedi.  If she gets strong enough, she could reestablish her bonds with them.
 
The StealthXs land on the Errant Venture.  Raynar Thul jumps out of his cockpit, spots Kyp Durron’s sunburned face and feels a bit of envy.  He’s grateful that his features have been normalized by many surgeries and that he’s been accept by the Jedi again, but he still sometimes long for even more normalcy.
 
Kyp tells him he did well today.  The EV pilots are being recovered and the Sith force has regrouped.  They are expected to jump to hyperspace soon.  The Jade Shadow has already left and there’s been no further word from Master Skywalker.  There’s also been nothing from the Temple.
 
Until they know where Abeloth went, where the Sith are going, what is happening on Coruscant, they really can’t do anything.  Kyp does think that they should make some contingency plans, though.
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chapter 4:
 
At the Armand Isard Correctional Facility, Tahiri walks into the exercise yard.  It’s filled with yellow-clad prisoners, every one of them a male.  There are also no guards in sight.  A convict approaches her, one that she was responsible for helping to bring in before the war.
 
A couple of his friends are with him.  Tahiri knows this is no accident.  She’s dealing with a Mon Cal, a Hutt and a Wookiee.  Not willing to wait to be crushed, she takes the initiative and fights back. 
 
Finally, she is stunned by a weapon that comes down from the ceiling.
 
She is later marched into the warden’s office, shackled.  A large photo of the man shaking hands with Admiral Pellaeon adorns the wall. This will not go well.
 
He tells her that he realizes that she has not yet been convicted, despite the evidence that clearly shows she killed a great man, and that a clerical error put her in a high-security area with the male prisoners, but that does not mean she had the right to injure them.
 
Tahiri doubts that it was an error that put here there.  He tells her that he will make a note about her paranoid delusions. The surveillance cameras show that they were only gathered around her, talking.  They may have been taunting her, but she had no right to respond with force.
 
She will remain in shock cuffs when not in her cell or in court.  However, she will still be able to eat with everyone else and have her education, therapy and exercise sessions.  Tahiri knows that she is being set up again so that she will be helpless when attacked again.
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chapter 5:
 
Borleias has had a varied past.  It was a good stopping off point between Core worlds for centuries and was used as an outpost for whoever controlled Coruscant.  An Imperial biological facility was housed here.  The New Republic had used it to capture Coruscant from the control of Ysanne Isard.  The same government had fled here when the Yuuzhan Vong invaded the capital.  Jacen Solo had traded Borleias and Bilbringi to the Imperial Remnant for military aid.
 
Daala would not allow such an important jumping-off point to belong to a foreign power, so she had negotiated with the Empire to allow them to take Bilbringi and the Galactic Alliance to retain Borleais.
 
Beyond that, old military careers come here to die.  Officers who needed one more chance to prove a competence no one thinks they have are sent here. 
 
Still, there are opportunities and Sgt. Dolo Karenzi, the night-shift quartermaster, has found one.  The transport, Dust Dancer, is delivering a load of exotic goods that clearly don’t belong here.  Karenzi can sign for it illegibly, take possession of it and traffic it for a fortune. 
 
The lovely young woman, who is way out of his league, takes his signature and asks for landing authorization.
 
No sooner does the ship land, however, than the base sirens start going off.  The starfighters lighting up, Karenzi asks what’s going on. He’s told a Star Destroyer called the Errant Venture has dropped out of orbit. 
 
They all know that the Venture is wanted for actions against the Alliance.  Just a couple of days ago, it left Coruscant with a huge number of Coruscant’s political, social and military elite aboard playing in a high-stakes sabacc tournament.  It had used it’s presumed hostages to cover the flight of Jedi StealthXs.
 
It will be very difficult to funnel these goods now.
 
The base’s commander does not launch the starfighters, knowing it’s pointless against a Star Destroyer.  He’s trying to reach Coruscant quickly.  The Venture begins sending shuttles down with the sabacc players in various moods. 
 
With them comes their retainers, their luggage, their music.  In other words, the Venture has dumped the remains of a huge party on Borleias.
 
Wynn Dorvin is one of them.  He’s a bit shell-shocked as he is greeted by General Eldo Davip, a diligent, but uninspiring officer who’d helped defend Borleias against the Yuuzhan Vong.  He’d served well but had been tainted by his association with Jacen Solo.  Though he’d not been accused of any complicity, he was still maneuvered here for a quiet retirement. 
 
Davip tells him that he’s assured the Chief of State that Dorvan is fine.  She wants a report from him quickly, but Davip would like to ensure the security of the planet first.  He wants to know what to expect from the huge red Star Destroyer in orbit.
 
Dorvan isn’t sure they can expect anything.  Apparently, they just want to steer clear of the Alliance military.  As soon as their shuttles are returned, they plan to leave the system. 
 
There are no GA reinforcements coming here, so Davip is going to press a transport that was making a delivery at the time into service getting the card players back to Coruscant.  When he finds out Dorvan won the tournament, he makes a note to look him up after retirement for a job.
 
Dorvan offers to consider it if Davip can get him a private cabin on the transport.
 
The final shuttle lands and the pilot of the Dust Dancer knows Lando is aboard it.  She is Seha Dorvald, recently elevated Jedi Knight.  Booster Terrik had arranged for the completely unsullied Dust Dancer to be loaned and filled with luxury items from his ship stores. 
 
It was placed here first with the belief that it would be forced to ferry the celebrities back to Coruscant.  After all, the shuttles belonging to the card players are being commandeered for now.  They will be used to transport Jedi into the Senate Building.
 
Her former Master, Octa Ramis, is with her.  Seha tells her that there is a request to give Wynn Dorvan a private cabin.  Octa chuckles at how many special requests will be made.  As it is, the only private cabin on board is hers.
 
They’ll put a listening device inside first before giving it to him. 
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     •    Borleias was used as a top-secret facility and seized from the Empire in the X-Wing series, used to regroup after the loss of Coruscant in Rebel Dream and traded to the Empire during the LoTF series.
•    General Davip first appeared in Rebel Dream, then in Rebel Stand and The Unifying Force.
•    Seha Dorvald was the young woman manipulated by Jacen Solo in the LotF series.  She’s appeared a couple of times since.

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chapter 6:
 
When they arrive at Nam Chorios, Vestara notes the Golan stations in orbit.  This is a lot of firepower for one world.  Luke tells her the stations are meant to keep ships from escaping, not arriving. 
 
Though Nam Chorios is a backworld, it also harbors a native lifeform call a droch.  The drochs carry the Death Seed plague.  Drochs breed quickly in dark, damp places before they burrow in to the living tissue of most species. They sample the body chemistry and other traits and begin to mimic them so that even scanner can’t find them.  They grow inside the host body, living off life energy, manifesting the plague.
 
The drochs continue to breed inside the body. 
 
Vestara isn’t sure why they haven’t destroyed this place. There are other life forms here.  Violet light from the sun is processed through crystals and through crystalline life forms called tsils which kill the drochs.  So long as one stays close to the tsils and the sun, it is safe.
 
They will be using the name Lars here under the guise of searching for relatives among the Newcomers. 
 
The port authority rep lets them know that there’s a harsh winter going on, gives them droch repellent, glow rods and wishes them luck finding their cousins.  Landing directly on the planet requires a lengthy and expensive decontamination procedure, so they decide to shuttle down.
 
Luke watches the world come into view, different from when he’d been here 30 years ago.  The Oldtimers no longer have to work to keep drochs from leaving the planet or tsils removed against their will.  Medical facilities are burgeoning here due to the violet sunlight, the tsils, the Theran Listeners and the Oldtimers.
 
Everyone had gotten what they wanted except for Callista who had come here to reconnect with the Force.
 
Speaking of which, he reminds Vestara and Ben not to use the Force here except in very extreme circumstances and, then, only as pasively as possible.  Part of the environment magnifies Force usage and causes destructive storms.
 
When they disembark, Luke is flooded with memories of his time here.
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                  •    Luke visited Nam Chorios in Planet of Twilight.
 

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chapter 7:
 
Chief of State Daala sits with her friend, Nek Bwua’tu, and confesses she thinks this planet is a hellhole sometimes.  He is one of her remaining confidantes even though he cannot answer.
 
The way power on this world is handled is beyond reason.  It is just the discrediting of a rival, but the way people resort to treachery in mere office politics over things of little value.
 
She, however, plans to stay the course and crush those who crave power for their own ends.  The Slave revolt leaders who just want to replace those they overthrow, the arrogant Jedi, those that use good people in their way.
 
Desha Lor enters to tell her that Wynn Dorvan is returning right now.
 
At the Temple, the Jedi are working together as they haven’t for a long time.  The Dust Dancer is coming down. Kyp and Octa are hidden in its smuggling compartments.  Seha is the only pilot and she is not well-known even without the inserts that are altering her facial structure.
 
Nevertheless, two Masters entering the Senate Building will force Daala’s hand.  They must try, however, to keep this as bloodless as possible.  This involves getting Kyp and Octa the resources necessary to allow them to infiltrate the building, such as disguises.
 
Leia suggests that they propose some meeting between her, Han and Daala, that will give them the means to get materials to the two Jedi.  Daala will want to speak with Kenth Hamner, so they come up with a cover story.  Feeling that Daala may launch a tactical strike against him personally, Hamner has gone into hiding until the relationship between the Alliance and the Jedi Order has improved.
 
Elsewhere, in the Temple, Valin Horn gets the name Nam Chorios in his mind.  He knew he needed to go somewhere and that feeling gets stronger every hour.  He can tell that Jysella knows, too.
 
Kam Solusar comes to sit with them in the mess hall.  He notes that their tests have come back showing that they are cleared of the carbonite sickness.  This means it’s back to work.  They are going on a light courier run to Corellia to deliver some supplies to their enclave there.
 
Valin suspects their shuttle will have a tracking device on it.  They will land someplace that is not Corellia, try to escape and the fake Jedi will come to capture them or kill them.
 
Only a crazy person would walk into this trap.
 
Valin and Jysella engage in some light bantering about how this assignment really only requires one Jedi.  Kam finally agrees to give Valin another assignment.
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     •    Corellia has a Jedi enclave?  I know they had a school during the LotF series. Did that get reopened then?
 

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