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"Apocalypse": Book 9 in the Fate of the Jedi series


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chapter 1:
 
On the starliner in orbit around Coruscant, Jaina Solo and her comrades are among the few who know that the Sith have infiltrated the highest-levels of government in the Galactic Alliance.
 
At Customs, normally welcoming of visitors, the Sith Sabers keep an eye out for the Jedi they are expecting to appear.  Valin and Jysella Horn insist they are from Kalla VII and are tourists hoping to get better positions with Unlimited Horizons Incorporated in the Corporate Sector.  One advantage they have against the Sith is that the Lost Tribe has been isolated for millennia.  Their knowledge of the ins and outs of the galaxy is limited for the time being.
 
Meanwhile, Bazel Warv is posing as a wrestler named Jade Masher, Seff Hellin is his manager and Vaala Razelle is Hellin’s assistant.  Barv is unhappy when his friend, Yaqeel Saav’etu, and fellow Bothan Jedi Yantahar Bwua’tu, are stopped by officials questioning their business with United Hydrologic Institute.
 
When security guards appear, Seff has to remind Barv not to blow his cover.  Yaqeel can take care of herself.  Barv tries to think of ways he can help without getting himself arrested.  He opens himself up to the Force and finds an Ishi Tib nearby who hadn’t known about the enhanced security procedures he would be facing.
 
He and his colleagues are carrying identical baggage that Barv knows contains spice.  Vaala and Seff approach them and offer to take the baggage through the security checkpoint for them.  Bazel starts cutting through processing lines with the baggage which gets the notice of the Sith Saber who is questioning the Bothans.
 
They get his baggage open to find pure neutron pixie which is worth a great deal.  Believing they’ve broken a smuggling ring, the customs officials have the security detail take the prisoners into custody.  Escaping a security detail is not a problem for the three Jedi.
 
Luke Skywalker watches the holonewscast as the broadcaster uses a Force technique designed to lull the audience into a receptive state.  She warns them to keep on the lookout for members of the Jedi Spice Cartel, particularly Luke himself.  Eramuth Bwua’tu has already provided intelligence that she is really Kayala Fei, a Sith Saber planted at BAMR News Network.
 
Sela Dorvald and Doran Tainer are on the platform, dressed as vacationers returning home.  Ben and Vestara are dressed in the latest fashions, with hair dyed the same color, arms around each other’s waists.  There’s a moment where they are alerted to a man with a facial tattoo in the crowd, but soon there’s another problem.
 
A GAS officer scrutinizes Vestara closely enough that Luke knows that he’s a Sith who recognizes her from Kesh.  Luke sends a blast of Force energy out that directs the man’s attention to him.  As the man grabs hold of Luke in the Force, Luke pulls him off the pedramp.  The officer ignites his lightsaber which only spooks GAS troops into thinking he’s a Jedi and opening fire.
 
A quick fight starts that ends when the officer suddenly drops in pain.  Vestara and Ben approach Luke to make sure he’s okay.  Luke thanks Ves for the help.  Doran and Seha join them.  Luke sends the young people on ahead.  He hates to kill in cold blood, but the man is a Sith and Luke isn’t in a position to take prisoners.
 
Ves stops him, telling him that the Saber won’t tell what he saw. Dorvan and Seha assures him that the fight was obscured by darkness.  Any Sith sent to investigate will only have GAS as witnesses and will assume the lightsaber in question belonged to the Saber.
 
Vestara used the Force to send the man’s own glass shikkar against him so it will look like a vendetta killing.  That won’t work if they are all still here standing over the body when the others show up.  Luke won’t let the man suffer, though.  He uses the Force to shift the blade so that the man dies quickly.
 
Vestara says he was a friend of her father’s.  They board the levtrain and Luke sees tears in her eyes.  He asks what made her hate the man so much.  She admits she didn’t hate him.  He was always very kind to her.  She didn’t have her own shikkar and they are at war, after all.  She did what she did for the Jedi cause.
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     •    The time is 44 years ABY, really no more than 6 months or so from Outcast.
 

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chapter 2:
 

Wynn Dorvan is being held in a cell undergoing Force torture.  Abeloth, the self-styled Beloved Queen of the Stars, threatens to bring in Lady Korelei to interrogate him again.
 
He tells her to bring the Sith on.  She can’t get information from a dead man.  Abeloth turns into Rokari Kem and asks if he wants to be released from the cell.  She releases his bounds and tells him she wants his help.
 
She needs assistance ruling the government.  He would be saving lives, including his own.  It’s really not even a choice so far as Wynn is concerned.  He warns her that he won’t be her mouthpiece or her spy.
 
Abeloth assures him that she just needs his help administrating the government.  She brings forward Lt. Lydea Pagorski whom Dorvan remembers from Tahiri Veila’s trial.  Abeloth explains that the Empire wants her back and she needs to know whether or not it’s wise to do so.
 
Dorvan asks if they’ve offered anything in return.  When he finds out that nothing has been offered, he advises her to grant the request.  If they had offered something, it would have meant Pagorski was valuable to them and it would have been unwise to return her. 

He confirms that her father is an admiral so it is likely he’s the one putting pressure on the diplomatic corps to get her back.  Abeloth knows that Pagorski knows the truth about her, though.  Since her word as an officer doesn’t mean much considering she was detained for perjury, Abeloth decides to wipe some of the lieutenant’s memories. 
 
The procedure is gruesome enough that Dorvan retreats to a corner, howling.
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     •    I’m sure we remember Pagorski who claimed to have overheard Jacen Solo telling Tahiri specifically not to kill Admiral Pellaeon.  Her perjury was exposed on the stand by Eramuth Bwua’tu.
 
 

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chapter 3:
 
Ben keeps looking at the clock while he and Vestara wait outside Senator Suldar’s office. They are both disguised as pages; Vestara as a Falleen; Ben as a Twi’lek.
 
They finally approach the security and intimate that they have a peace offering from Senator Wuul that will save Senator Suldar a lot of time.  He opens the door.  Ben knows how hard this operation may be for her.
 
Turning her back on her people, never being able to see her childhood friends.  Though she’s confided to him her desire to return to Kesh the head of a peace delegation, he knows this is somewhat naïve.  Still, he can’t deprive her of it and has asked his father to stop pressing her for the location of Kesh.
 
A woman appears, takes the envelope and demands to know what’s going on.  Ves and Ben explain that Senator Wuul has sent a cafasho steamer to Senator Suldar as a conciliatory offer.  She lets them into a secret passage that leads to the Senator’s office.
 
As the day proceeds, Sith imposters across the planet begin getting messages telling them to surrender or die signed by the Jedi Order.
 
Jestat Vhool of the Lost Tribe is now the GAS superintendent and doesn’t take the message seriously until he gets a warning from the Force about a bomb.  He jumps out of his limo onto a balcony where a scaffold falls on him and crushes him.  A maintenance man on the scaffold – Jedi Master Corran Horn – jumps onto a swoop bike piloted by fellow Jedi Izal Waz.  The limo never explodes.
 
Kayala Fei is delivering the midday news about Jedi conducting medical experiments when she gets the message.  She uses the Force to push her chair away from the desk, jumps up and is hit by a broken cable that wraps around her neck and pours current into her.  The relief producer – Jedi Master Octa Ramis – has the co-anchor move to take Fei’s place.  Ramis and her three Jedi assistants move on to the next target.
 
The Grand Justice Tela Rovas hears the alarms when she gets her own message.  She rises from her seat and heads to the private exit.  She keeps the other justices around her, holding some by the arm to protect herself.  Jaina Solo has to release the hidden trigger that was meant to send the heavy door into just Rovas. 
 
She nods to Valin and Jysella that they have to let her go.  No civilian casualties even at the expense of letting a Sith Lord escape.
 
Ben and Vestara had only two minutes before the wave of attacks were supposed to begin by the time they reach Suldar’s office.  They will have to improvise since they cannot set up the cafasho steamer in time.
 
The only reason they got in at all is because Vestara had mouthed her name to the guard outside.  In Suldar’s office, his true persona of Ivaar Workan uses the Force to summon the envelope.  Two of his bodyguards hold a glass parang and an unlit lightsaber to Ben’s throat.
 
Vestara has a shikkar to her abdomen.  By now, Luke and his team should be passing across the parlor and should be here within the minute.  Vestara doesn’t know if she and Ben have that long.
 
Hearing muffled voices outside, Ben tells Workan to make his choice.  Workan reminds him that he’s not the one with a parang to his throat.  Ben points out that Workan is already dead by virtue of drinking two cups of cafasho in Wuul’s office the day before.
 
But he does have the option of surrender and they do have the antidote.  Workan is tired of playing games.  He pulls out his lightsaber as the compression wave hits him.  Vestara spins away and attacks her captor.  Luke, Seha and Dorvan rush into the breach in the door to take on Workan.
 
Vestara notes that Workan is trying to get to his desk.  He may have a detonator there.  Ben yells to his father to watch out for a trap.  Luke and Seha dive away, leaving Workan to be killed by blaster fire instead.
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                •    We met Jestat Vhool in Vortex.
 

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chapter 4:
 
The Dragon Queen II arrives at Ossus to take the academy students that are being evacuated.  Allana’s mother assures her that her grandparents are very good at this type of thing. 
 
Tenel Ka’s cousin, Trista, interrupts to let her know that a wing of Skipray 12Js has appeared on the far side of the planet.  Tenel Ka orders four wings of Miy’tils to meets them.  The 12Js are being flown by Sith pilots, after all.
 
Trista also passes along Lady Maluri’s concern that she is risking Hapan lives over some Jedi younglings.  Tenel Ka tells her to remind Lady Maluri that the Sith tried to kill her queen and, if she’s not willing to revenge such an affront, then she can be replaced with someone who will.  She also tells Trista to tell Maluri that she threw something.
 
Even Allana knows that her mother risks a lot to help the evacuation along.  Tenel Ka knows this, too, but explains that, if the Sith had killed her, there would have been a war of succession that Allana would have been too young to fight.
 
Allana watches the evacuation intently before she is sucked into a vision of being beneath the Jedi Temple with all manner of tiny heads popping all.  She sees a storm of blaster bolts that sends the little creatures to their nests.  She screams for Tesar and Wilyem to return, but they don’t and the nest vanishes.
 
She finds her mother holding her and asking her what’s wrong.  Allana needs to speak with Master Sebatyne now.  She is vague as to the reason but explains that her friends on Coruscant need help.
 
Tenel Ka reminds her that she wasn’t really in the Jedi Temple just now.  Allana explains it was a vision.  That’s two in six months.  Allana didn’t know her father well but has read enough to know that Force visions led to his downfall.   She also remembers Luke telling Grandma that Jacen felt he needed to change what he saw in the visions.  Allana doesn’t want to make the same mistake, but she cannot ignore the danger to the hatchlings.
 
Allana isn’t quite able to locate Saba in the Force.  Tenel Ka tells her they could use the HoloNet, but the Sith might intercept the message.  It might be better to wait until the evacuation is over and have her grandmother contact Master Sebatyne through the Force.
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     •    Allana and Bazel Warv had found the Barabel eggs in the tunnels of the Temple at the end of Conviction.  She had been sworn to secrecy then and the Barabels are adamantly uncommunicative about this.  Tesar, Wilyem and the others are still down there.
     •    Trista Zel is Taryn’s sister.  We met her in Invincible.
     •    Allana has read that Force visions led to Jacen’s downfall?  See!  If she knows that, why didn’t anyone else seem to?
 

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chapter 5:
 
Han complains about the time it’s taking to get the academy evacuated.  Leia reminds him that it’s not just the students, but the families, the support staff and the supplies which they are going to need now that the GA is not providing unlimited funding.
 
Artoo reports to Han about the arrival of the Skipyrays that Vhork Squadron has been trying to deal with.  Han tells everyone to secure the ships and ready for launch. 
 
He has Leia and Zekk take the turrets while Taryn co-pilots. They nearly get pummeled by the Hapans when they stray into a free-fire zone.  But the Falcon was the last to leave and, when they find out that two ships haven’t been spotted yet, the Hapans assure Han they’ll find them.  If it’s too late, they’ll make the Sith pay.
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chapter 6:
 
There is little evidence on Coruscant of the war.  Dorvan wants to keep it this way, hoping to convince Abeloth that letting the capital slip into chaos will not win her the hearts of her subjects.
 
Everyone else sees her as Rokari Kem, the beloved resistance leader from Qaras, but Dorvan knows and sees her true nature as the tentacle-armed, broad-mouthed Abeloth.
 
Lady Korelei reports that the Jedi are everywhere and yet nowhere.  They know the identities of the Sith residing here, but there is nothing of the Jedi.  They have the advantage of surprise.
 
She believes Dorvan could tell her more, but Abeloth points out that Korelei has had a month with him.  If he didn’t tell her then, he won’t tell her now. Korelei thinks that they should reveal to the population of Coruscant that they’re being ruled by Sith.  Dorvan points out that it will just turn the whole planet against them.
 
Korelei doesn’t think so.  She believes the population will quake and tremble.  The Jedi will be found eventually.  Abeloth thinks it will work in time.  Dorvan knows how Abeloth feeds on the fear and despair of others. Korelei’s plan will give her an endless supply of it.
 
He reminds Abeloth that she may win the battle, but she will lose the war.  The people are Coruscant are used to being the masters, not the slaves.  He suggests she eliminate the Jedi quietly without the knowledge of the public.
 
She must bring the Jedi to her by having the Sith withdraw into the Temple.
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chapter 7:
 
When the Falcon lands in the Battle Dragon II's hangar,  Tenel Ka thinks it’s the most beautiful thing she’s seen in a long time.  Allana reminds her that she was the one who said that the Solos shouldn’t be underestimated.
 
They worry about her, too, though.  Tenel Ka sometimes wishes that she had not been born a prince’s daughter and could raise her child herself. Abdicating puts both of them in danger as any successor would not feel comfortable until any rival was eliminated. 
 
Allana asks Leia if she can reach Master Sebatyne in the Force.  She needs to know that the Sith are going to find Tesar and the others. She saw it in a vision. 
 
Kam Solusar reports they didn’t lose anyone.  Tionne clarifies that transport 718 took damage, but is being escorted in.  Han remembers that it was one of the first to leave and got jumped hard.  Now it’s straggling.  That doesn’t make sense to him and makes him uncomfortable that it’s headed for the flagship.
 
The transport is supposed to be carrying academy students.  Tenel Ka reaches out in the Force, but there are many ships around with several dozen clusters of students all over.  She can’t tell if the presences on the transport are those belonging to students.
 
There are no signs of being boarded, but it’s possible the Sith might’ve used the Force.  She decides to have the ion drives of the ship targeted.  A boarding party will take control after that.
 
Kam prepares to head up the party as the ship ‘s drives are hit.  The ship explodes.  Tenel Ka grabs Allana who felt the lives end.  The blast destroyed Volgh Squadron.  No ion drive is big enough to do that.  The ship had to be rigged and was blown up when it wasn’t allowed to board. Very likely, this was another attempt on the Queen Mother.
 
They all know that the Sith High Lord saw a vision of a woman on a white throne at the Pool of Knowledge.  Through a misunderstanding, it’s believed that woman to be Tenel Ka herself.  It’s a burden she gladly takes to protect her daughter.
 
The loss of so many lives is still painful.  The transport was not out of sight long enough to remove the over 300 passengers.  There were enough students on board to make a takeover hard.  There would have had to be many Sith.
 
It might be a good idea to track along the trajectory to see what they find. 
 
Allana worries what the Sith will do with Tesar and the others. Leia admits that Saba withdrew when Leia tried to contact her.  Allana determines she will have to go to Coruscant herself.
 
Han refuses to allow it. Allana insists she only needs to contact Barv. He can warn Tesar.  She doesn’t want to reveal more, until she realizes that the Jedi know about the nest.  Tionne and Kam explain that the disappearance of the Barabels and Master Sebatyne’s touchiness was a big clue.
 
Allana is still not going to be allowed to go to Coruscant.  The Solos will do their best.
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chapter 8:
 

Admiral Bwua’tu explains to an elite group of experienced space marines why they have to overthrow the current Chief of State Rokari Kem.  Most of the enemy is hiding in the Jedi Temple in an attempt to draw out the Jedi.
 
The marines are going to attack thirty different spots in the hopes of forcing Kem to deploy most of her forces there.  Luke goes on to explain they aren’t just liberating the Temple, but the entire GA of the Lost Tribe. 
 
They will be drawing the Sith to the Temple’s outer shell.  Once that happens, Luke will deactivate the building’s shields and open the blast doors.  The Sith will probably stand their ground there which will give the Jedi time to attack from the interior.
 
If this doesn’t work, there’s a baradium attack planned for the Temple.  If the order to withdraw is given, they will have to move fast.  Each battalion will have a Jedi liason assigned to it.  They will give advice only, but the battalions are urged to listen.
 
He assigns several Jedi but skips over Bazel Warv.  He has Ben and Vestara bring Seha in.  He tells Barv that the Solos need his help with something that Allana thinks he should now.  Barv suspects that it’s her secret.  Luke is surprised that he knows her secret.  Barv explains that it’s another secret, not the one about her real identity.  Luke is more concerned that he knows that.
 
Ben and Vestara arrive with Seha, wondering if they’ve missed anything important.
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chapter 9:
 
Vestara knows this will work because the Jedi know the Temple more than the Sith ever would.  This benefits her because the High Lords on Kesh will be more worried about Luke Skywalker after this is over to hunt her down.
 
Still, it would be nice to have a weapon, though she understands why she can’t have one.  Jaina reminds her that she can always stay behind if it’s uncomfortable.  Vestara knows that they will have better intelligence if she stays in. 
 
When she finds their destination is the core of the Temple, it can only mean the Jedi are going to spread outward from the heart of the Sith.  There must be an override to get the doors open.  Ben assures her that she wouldn’t be human if she weren’t bothered by the idea of her people being killed.
 
She asks him if he’s ever thought about not being a Jedi.  He tells her how he withdrew from the Force when he was at Shelter during the war.  Abeloth was contacting the younglings, but he doesn’t remember much.  That was a long time ago, though.
 
He doesn’t see himself doing anything else.
 
This is unhappy news for Ves who knows she can never be a Jedi.  This romance was doomed from the start.  She will have to find a way to survive without the Jedi Order to protect her.  Having a bargaining chip is helpful.
 
The Jedi don’t realize how much of the conversation she overheard between Master Skywalker and Bazel Warv.  She hadn’t understood it at the time but it’s clear that this secret identity is something very serious.  She remembers Lord Taalon’s vision at the Pool of Knowledge of the Jedi queen that many believe is connected to Queen Mother Tenel Ka.
 
It’s common knowledge that Tenel Ka had a child whose father she refused to identify, but that she and Jacen Solo had been close friends until late in the last Civil War.  The child had allegedly died from a nanovirus at the end of the war.  Around the same time, the Solos had adopted a Force-sensitive war orphan.
 
A child that Vestara can’t help but notice looks a little like Han Solo.  She thinks about the child’s appearance, finally realizing that her hair has been dyed black.  She has red roots.
 
If this little girl is the daughter of Tenel Ka, it could mean that she is the Jedi queen.
 
This is information she is going to hold on to.  She follows Ben to a platform where they meet Valin and Jysella who direct them to a large room ahead.  Vestara can’t believe there were no Sith sentries here, but Jysella confirms there was no one.
 
Vestara is suspicious and wants to look around.  The Sith would never make such a mistake.  She has to convince Ben there’s a problem:  there are no droids here.  He wants to check with his father.
 
She feels the deck grating wobble below her.  Vestara looks down to see the people with their faces wrapped in scarves and their weapons showing.  This is an ambush.
 
She doesn’t know how her people found out about it, but she does know that she’ll be blamed for it.  Ben tries to talk to her, but no words are heard.  She realizes that someone is using the Force to quiet the air and keep it from carrying sound waves.
 
She reaches out to Master Skywalker in the Force, grabs Ben and spins around as the section of deck grating flies at them.  They land on their backs as a wall of ambushers leaps out. 
 
Ben, Vestara, Valin and Jysella battle them furiously.  As Vestara is hit on the head with a lightsaber hilt, she sees a newcomer to the fight.  The Sword of the Jedi, Jaina Solo.
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chapter 10:
 
Jaina doesn’t know how such a mission could go so badly so quickly.  The Sith are everywhere.  Chaos, however, is no problem for Jaina who thrives on it.  The largest part of the Sith force isn’t even here which makes her wonder if they were going to target Luke instead.
 
But Luke Skywalker is not the Sword of the Jedi.  She is and they’ve just trapped themselves inside a locked Temple with her.
 
She looks around, sees Vestara knocked unconscious, a Sith Lord speaking into a comlink, Luke and Master Horn nowhere in sight, but Valin and Jysella fighting back to back.  Ben is jumping through the air toward Vestara with no lightsaber to protect him. 
 
Jaina plots her attack, getting a Sith lightsaber sent Ben’s way which he catches.  Her chaotic attack takes quite a few down, but Vestara has been dragged off.  Jaina reminds Ben he can’t help her if he gets himself killed.
 
The Sith commander likely took her hoping that Ben will go after her.  They will have to find the others and regroup.  They’ll figure out how to retrieve Vestara then.  Jaina is proven right when they spot a couple of snipers with Verpine shatter guns. 
 
They find an interface station that’s been activated but are interrupted when an explosion echoes.  They’re not going to get reinforcements now.  The water break caused by the explosion will probably trigger gate shudowns. 
 
Jaina and Ben are left to handle about a dozen Sith who hurl glass parangs, Force lightning and sniper bulletes at them.  When they find themselves trapped in a supply room, Luke and Corran appear. 
 
Luke orders the Sith to drop their weapons, but they don’t believe even he is that good.  Luke looks over their heads into the darkness and two figures in dark armors drop down with lightsabers ignited.
 
Valin and Jysella help finish them off, Jysella pointing out that it’s easy to be stealthy when the enemy is concentrated elsewhere.  Luke confirms that Jaina’s astromech has told them the computer interface has been disabled.
 
They all know this was an ambush.  Ben is adamant that Vestara did not betray them.  Luke thinks they should sort that out later.  Rowdy the astromech leads them through a cargo tube.
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chapter 11:
 
Jagged Fel has Exodo II blockaded with a thousand picket boats.  Yet a scoutship still managed to slip in.  It’s two months into the siege against the forces of former Chief of State Daala. 
 
Jag’s position is tenuous at best.  Those Moffs who aren’t hitting each other to expand their territory are just as likely to support Daala over him. He’s been forced to send the Imperial Navy all over the remote corners of the Empire so sympathetic commanders won’t side with Lecersen over their Head of State.
 
Now someone is letting blockade-runners slip through.  Tahiri believes it’s someone strong in the Force that was in that ship.  She can’t say if they’re Sith or not. 
 
She identifies a flash blinding the sensors as a Force-flash.  This one is too powerful for even Master Skywalker to accomplish.  She thinks they’ve found Abeloth.
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chapter 12:
 
Aboard the Chimaera, listening to her advisor, Daala would never have tried to usurp Fel if she had known this was going to happen.  This wasn’t supposed to be a month-long stalemate. 
 
The other Moffs are using the opportunity to fight among themselves, cut deals and toss the financial markets into chaos. 
 
It’s only a struck of luck that Lt. Pagorski was able to slip through.  But it’s enough for Lecersen to think they can slip out.  Daala isn’t so sure.  She’s suspicious of how Pagorski got in.  The young woman explains that someone helped her in, but that’s all she is willing to offer.
 
Assuming this isn’t a trap, Daala would like to know why she’s here.  Pagorski only wanted to give a report, but she’s likely not going to be able to leave now.  Lecersen wants to try anyway.
 
Daala asks that he give her a few minutes.  She has the interdictor pull huge megaliths to close the gap in the blockade, trapping enemy starfighters inside.  She will offer any surrendering pilot a comfortable cell or an officer’s commission in her fleet.
 
For now, she is considering an election.  Lecersen isn’t sure that will work, even with his and her resources combined.  A general election, Daala thinks, will appeal to Fel’s democratic ideals and it will keep control away from the Moffs.
 
Pagorski is certain that this will work.
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chapter 13:
 
Dorvan is considering his options.  Abeloth had taken his suggestion to release Pagorski ,but had used her power to take over her body.  She had taken his advice to move the Sith into the Temple by setting up an ambush.  He’s just not been able to play her.
 
It had been a mistake to try.  So the nearby Sith Saber with a loose hold-out blaster that he may not have noticed might be useful.  Abeloth arrives, though, and asks that they be left alone.
 
Wynn trips on purpose in front of the guard, swiping the blaster and tucking it into his robes.  He gets a stomp on the ribs in retaliation.  She appears as Lady Korelai, doubtless a new body she’s taken over now.
 
She wants his advice but won’t ask him yet. Wanting to play the hand he’s been dealt, he waits until she goes into one of her revelatory trances, where she seems to be somewhere else, and checks the charge on the blaster.
 
He fires and can’t believe how easy it was when she collapses with a hole in the center of her chest.  He fires again between her eyes.  Nothing happens after that. 
 
He backs up, wondering how he’s going to get out of here with all the Sith around.  A voice behind him tells him he won’t escape.
 
He turns around knowing he’s going to see her face.  Abeloth’s true face stares at him.  He fires at her at the same moment his hand is jerked aside, sending the bolt past his temple.  The blaster is pulled from his hand and he is sent flying.
 
She tells him there’s no escape for any of them.
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chapter 14:
 

The cargo tube pushes Ben through forever.  He can’t keep his mind off of Vestara and worries what she is going through at the hands of her captors.  Everyone is so quick to suspect her, even Corran whose own children had betrayed the Order by going to Nam Chorios under Abeloth’s influence.
 
He is deposited into the freight-handling system where he makes his way to the spacecraft repair bay locker.  Luke, Corran and Jysella are here.  Jysella thinks her brother and Jaina were trading fire with the enemy the whole way here.
 
Valin appears, not knowing how Jaina is. He thinks he might have hit her a couple of times.  There are a couple of dozen Sith behind her, though.  Jysella doesn’t think it matters if they never get this far.
 
They could seal it off, but they are not in a good spot.  There are many more Sith in the hangar and this locker is a dead end.  Valin decides to cut a bolt hole.  Ben comms his father who has gone back to the interface.  Luke tells his son to try to buy some time if they can’t do anything else.
 
Jaina comes flying through the tube, warning of a grenade on the way.  Ben catches it and sends it flying.  Several Sith come out of the tube, one of them the Sith commander who grabbed Vestara.
 
Ben holds a lightsaber to his face, telling him to surrender or die.  When the Sith expresses interest in the terms of surrender, Ben starts to suggest a trade over his cousin’s arguments.
 
Jaina grabs him as his leg sears with pain.  A shikkar is in his thigh.  Ben lunges after the Sith but stops when Jysella pulls at him through the Force, warning him of a detonator she’s got.
 
She tosses it into the delivery ortal and jjmps aay.  There’s no way to know if any of them cleared the blast.  Ben is in agony due to the shikkar lodged in his femur.  Jaina uses the Force to pull it out, telling him he deserves it for trying to capture a Sith Lord in the middle of a battle.
 
Ben thinks the man wanted to take him prisoner.  Jaina can’t argue that Luke Skywalker’s son would make a good one, but she doesn’t want to play around with Sith.  No more attack them.  They move forward to find Luke and Corran dodging lightning and trading blasterfire.
 
Rowdy believes all of the interface panels are disabled throughout the entire Temple.  There’s only one way to open all of the blast doors at once.  Rowdy will have to talk directly to the Temple computer itself and that means they need to get to the computer core where the Sith are likely waiting.
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chapter 15:
 
This is not a comfortable mission.  Master Skywalker has asked Raynar Thul to return to the Killik colony he’d led as a Joiner named UnuThul.  He knows he’s not the same person he was then, a badly injured and traumatized Jedi.  The joining had destroyed his identity.  There are still times that his recovery seems incomplete.
 
With the problems facing the Jedi, though, someone needs to convince the Killiks to reveal anything they know about the Celestials they used to serve. 
 
Lowbacca, Tekli and Threepio are with him.  The droid will translate, Lowie will be technical officer, Tekli the medic.  Raynar knows, though, that his Jedi friends have actually been sent to make sure he stays sane.
 
They are intercepted by a large creature that intimidates them until Raynar believes it is actually a Killik named Thuruht.  She invites them to the Celestial Palace.
 
They are all wearing filters to keep the Killik pheromones from getting in.  On the way to meet the queen, Raynar notices pictures on the walls, one of which reminds him of the Corellian system. 
 
In the Queen’s chambers, she is certain that Raynar will rejoin the Hive.  He reminds her what happened the last time.  She believes he is older and wiser now.  Raynar points out that he has no desire to rejoin the Hive.  Besides, the Chiss will know if he doesn’t return to the Galactic Alliance.  If that happens, they will go to war.
 
He needs to know about the Celestials and another being.  Before he can say the name, Threepio translates that the queen mentions Abeloth.  Thuruht was the one who imprisoned her.
 
Raynar explains that she has escaped and they don’t know where she went.  The Killiks begin massing in the chamber.  Threepio tells him that they seem to think the galaxy is about to end.
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     •    Of course, Raynar’s time with the Killiks was detailed in the Dark Nest Trilogy.
 

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chapter 16:
 
Jysella peeks out to see the two sentries outside the computer core.  She can scan traces of detonite, too.  Mines won’t be a problem, though.  Once they breach the computer core, the battle will really be over.  Rowdy will plug into a socket and have the computer lower the shields.
 
The space marines will storm the Temple and overwhelm the Sith.  It’s been 36 hours since the decision was made to get to the core and Jysella has to admire the 20 Sith warriors hiding behind the wall panels.
 
They are probably groggy and slow by now.
 
Slowly dispatching the traps as they go, the Jedi grow closer to their goal.  When Jysella and Rowdy make it into the control center.  She sees Chief Dorvan hanging upside down with a swollen face.
 
He explains that she underestimated him and indicates a nearby chair.  Jysella finds the body of Rokari Kem there.  He warns her to be careful as she isn’t dead.  And it’s also not Roki Kem.
 
Not sure if Dorvan is delusional or not, Jysella turns to Rowdy who tells her he’s found Vestara Khai running into the Temple substructure.  She knows Ben will want to know, but their priority is the shields and blast doors.
 
Dorvan screeches, warning Jysella that she’s playing into her hands.  Jysella can only see Kem’s corpse.  She explains that she knows Chief Kem is really a Sith.  Dorvan tries to explain that she doesn’t understand.
 
Rowdy tells her that the computer core is malfunctioning, claiming that she is the beloved queen of the stars and is the master of the Jedi Temple. She has locked all the shields and disabled the blast doors.
 
Jysella wants to know her name.  The computer answers that she already knows.  Jysella realizes that this is Abeloth. 
 
She cannot sense her brother or Ben who should have been here by now.  She sets a thermal detonator fuse and demands that the air lock by opened.  The door slides open and she sees Valin lying on the floor. 
 
She shakes him, asking where Ben is.  Dorvan calls out that he tried to warn her that Abeloth sees the future.
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chapter 17:
 
The Millennium Falcon arrives in realspace near Coruscant.  Han has a new Jedi Knight named Jayk send a message down.  They are surprised to see the Hapan Royal Navy here.
 
Jayk opens a channel. Taryn Zel’s voice explains that they have misplaced one of their female passengers and are wondering if she sneaked aboard the Falcon.
 
Leia is sure they are speaking of Anji and admits that they found their unexpected passenger curled up.  When Zekk asks how many legs the passenger has, Leia gets a bad feeling.  Han gets on the comm and orders Allana to the flight deck right now.
 
They’ve got a task force on their tail and R2 confirms that it’s commanded by Admiral Polow who graduated from the GA space academy.  Since the academy has only been around for three years, it’s not likely the quickly-risen admiral is a friend.
 
Leia reports to Taryn that they’ve found the stowaway when Allana appears.  The Hapans try to keep the large ships off of them, but Han has to take the ship down into Coruscant traffic when ChaseXs comes after them.
 
Han flies through a tunnel and into the darkness beneath Fellowship Plaza.  Artoo sends a message to Jedi Command.  Here in the undercity, yorik coral is still so numerous the buildings can’t be seen.
 
Admiral Bwua’tu is getting combat reports from his marines.  Half a dozen Jedi Masters are speaking with a small group of Knights.  Saba appears with Barv and Mirax Horn.   Saba is unhappy to see so many apprentices who are supposed to have been taken to Shedu Maad.
 
Leia explains that there were some last-minute promotions with the permission of the Solusars upon the departure from Ossus.  Less easy to explain is the little girl’s presence.  Allana explains she needs to speak with Saba.
 
Saba does not want to admit anything about a nest.  Leia stands her ground, telling her that they all know about it.  Allana believes the Sith are going to attack it, endangering Tesar, Dordi, Wilyem and Zal. 
 
Saba doesn’t know where the nest is located, but Allana does.  Barv does, too, so it’s decided that he will go.  They’ll use the secret entrance Luke had set up after the Mando siege problems.
 
As for the mission, the first teams into the Temple ran into an ambush.  The shields and the blast doors are still up.  They’ve lost ten Jedi so far, but, to their knowledge, Luke’s team is alright.  They are just the only ones in there.  Six Jedi against several thousand Sith aren’t good odds.
 
They don’t have time to do anything sneaky.  Admiral Bwua’tu’s orders will start being countermanded soon enough by the Sith in authority.  Once the baradium missles start flying, they cannot control who dies.
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chapter 18:
 
Vestara squeezes through the Vong biotechnology in the sublevels of the Temple.  She’s not lost, though.  She’s found the secret access tunnel that was recently developed.  Having fled in the opposite direction, she’s counting on the Sith focusing on the two Skywalkers.
 
It hadn’t been easy and she has still had to avoid pursuers.  She can’t believe the Circle of Lords wants her badly enough to ignore Luke Skywalker.  A group of twenty of them, including a High Lord.  She tangles with them enough to know they want to capture her alive, though.
 
She limps along on a wounded leg until she comes across some familiar fungus and the haunting remains of animals.  She recognizes them from Abeloth’s world.  She must be here. 
 
She dodges capture for a while longer until she is stymied by a slow- moving emergency hatch opening procedure.  Lady Sashal confronts her, telling her that she will guarantee Vestara’s safety for now.  Vestara demands to speak to Grand Lord Vol. Sashal tells her Vol has been replaced. 
 
They have a new Grand Lord and will take Ves to meet her.  Vestara believes this will interfere with her mission to kill the Jedi queen.  Lord Taalon assigned it to her in the Maw before she persuaded the Skywalkers to protect her.
 
Taalon died because Abeloth had taken him and then her father.  This mission is the key to the Sith conquest.  They must agree now.  If the Jedi find her here, she will never be allowed close to the queen again.
 
It’s Allana Solo, who is posing as the adopted daughter of Han and Leia Solo.  Vestara quickly explains it is believed that the Queen Mother and her childhood friend, Jacen Solo, remained close as adults.  Allana may be their daughter. 
 
If so, it explains the events on Klatooine. 
 
They understand this and are ready to give Vestara her chance.  Handing her a detonator with the safety pin off, they turn her in the direction of the Millennium Falcon which has landed nearby.  Bazel Warv is stepping off the ramp, following by a little girl and a nexu cub.
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chapter 19:
 
Taryn chastises Han that Coruscant is no place for the Chume’da right now. Han reminds her that Coruscant is Allana’s home and has been for the last seven years.
 
Right now, they are delivering Barv down here since Bwua’tu didn’t have an assault car big enough to carry him.  Taryn argues that the Chume’da does not have to accompany them.  Han reminds her that Allana doesn’t like to be left behind which is why she sneaked aboard for the trip to Coruscant in the first place.
 
Taryn argues that he and Princess Leia are adults and should be able to handle a stubborn child.  Han offers that Leia told him to go along with it because it’s a Force thing.  Taryn doesn’t think that’s a good enough reason, but Zekk reminds her that Allana does have the Force and that’s not going to change.
 
R2 is unable to open the hatch door because there is an emergency hatch request going on.  Believing it’s Jedi in need, Han has them stand by.  He’s surprised to see Vestara appear with a detonator in her hand.
 
Han yells for everyone to get back inside.  Black-robed Sith warriors emerge behind her.  Vestara tosses the detonator toward the boarding ramp using the Force. 
 
Anji springs to the tunnel mouth, Barv flings his arm out in the detonator’s direction and it flies right into the Falcon’s flight deck.  Han leaps up, yelling Artoo to move.
 
Leia looks up to see a blinding flash that dissipates to show the blasted end of the access corridor to the flight deck.  Allana screams for her grandfather and runs for the ship.  Leia grabs her and tells her to stop and think.  They cannot retreat into a disabled vessel.
 
Barv has already got his lightsaber out.  Leia pulls hers and runs to help him.  Allana grabs his blaster pistol from Barv’s holster and hunkers down to fire on the oncoming Sith.  Leia muses that this is too soon for her.
 
Leia thinks they’ll have to wait until Zekk and Taryn arrive.  She tells Allana to hit her panic alarm.  Allana answers that she did that a long time ago.  She thinks they should go with Plan C in honor of her grandfather.  It’s the last thing they’ll expect.
 
She jumps up on Barv’s back and holds her blaster over his shoulder.  He charges.  Leia reaches out in the Force and feels Han alive inside the ship.  He’s not in pain, but he’s angry and almost smug.
 
Leia joins the battle.  It takes a lot to bring Barv down, with a hole in his shoulder and wounds to his chest and a lightsaber thrust into him.  When Leia spots Artoo coming down the ramp of the Falcon, she looks up to see Han in the belly turret.
 
He uses the lasers to fire on the Sith.  Leia hands a concussion grenade to Artoo, telling Allana to run when she does.  They take off, Bazel behind them on his hands and knees, trailing intestines.  Leia uses the Force to pull him up.
 
He tells Leia to go now and turns to absorb Force lightning. Leia finds Allana in the tunnel with Barv’s blaster pistol, having shot several of the Sith herself.  She says she told them to surrender but they just kept reaching for the weapons.
 
Leia reaches for the blaster, but Allana doesn’t want her to take it.  She’s a good shot and knows her grandmother just doesn’t want her to see anyone she loves die. 
 
Leia sees Han kneeling behind a corner post of the ship, firing into the Sith attacking Barv.  The quad cannons are on automatic.  A Sith starts to bat Han’s fire back at him.  Han jumps off of the aft cargo lift right at the tunnel mouth, but stops, faces the Falcon and starts to fumble in his vest pocket.
 
Han calls for him and pulls out an electronic droid caller.  The belly turret reverses direction and sweeps Bazel’s attackers.  Barv goes after the remaining Sith, drawing on the Force to stay alive.
 
Han starts to shut down the belly turret, but Allana tells him that’s how Barv wants to go.  Having lost two arms, part of his skull and sustained numerous other injuries, Barv motions.  Allana holds three fingers to her lips until the cannon fire reaches him.
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     •    Actually, Allana has only been living with the Solos for about three years.  She was almost 6 when Jacen Solo died in Invincible and only about three years have passed since that time. 
     •    It would appear that Taryn knows Allana’s secret.  Zekk obviously knows, too.  And yet, poor Lando and the droids don’t know.  
 
 

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chapter 20:
 
Jagged Fel is watching his personal datapad as his advisor let him know there is unrest everywhere and a general election may not be a good idea.  Imperial citizens are not used to participating in a democratic process.
 
Jag wonders if the message here is that the Imperial education system is not up to the task of creating an informed public.  He’s told that they are not used to this type of decision-making and may not make a wise choice. Meaning: they might vote for Daala.
 
Lt. Pagorski has turned up as Daala’s campaign coordinator.  Jag’s keeping Daala and her fleet bottled up here is being seen as a sign of weakness.  Jag thinks it proves their would-be electorate is paying attention to what’s going on.
 
Neither the advisor nor Admiral Reige thinks the same way.  Fel reminds them that, in a democracy, it’s not the results that count, but the process.  People will only truly follow a leader if they choose the leader themselves. 
 
Tahiri thinks Jag is laying a trap.  He confirms he’s been in touch with Jaina.  Tahiri is rather surprised that he would comm her during a battle.  Jag explains Jaina commed him during a lull in fighting and made the suggestion.  He’s been loaned some StealthXs and shadow bombs.
 
He explains that Abeloth is out there.  She may not necessarily be on Daala’s side, though.  Jag is hoping Tahiri can find her.  Tahiri asks if she saw something about Boba Fett being seen on Hagamoor Three. 
 
They know that Fett broke Daala out of the detention center.  If he’s on Hagamoor three and Abeloth is helping Daala, then she might be there, too.  The planet is one of Moff Getelles’ holdings in the Meridian sector.
 
It also happens to be the same place where the scientists who developed the nanovirus have gone into hiding.  Not only did they develop the one that targeted the Hapan Royal Family, they created the one that was released into Mandalore’s atmosphere.
 
That does increase the likelihood that it is Fett himself on Hagamoor.  Jag tells her he doesn’t really care about the bounty hunter, but she should try to stop Abeloth.  He’ll give her a frigate to use as she sees fits, so long as she tries to limit collateral damage.
 
If she succeeds, he’ll issue a full pardon. Reige thinks if she can defeat both Fett and Abeloth, he’ll sign the pardon himself.  Fel holds him to that, especially if he becomes the next Head of State.  That’s the next part of the plan.
 
Reige is going to become a third candidate in the race for Head of State in an attempt to split the military vote.  The admiral is not excited about this, but he will serve the Empire in any way he can.
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     •    Does Jaina not know that Abeloth is on Coruscant?  I can’t imagine her not telling Jag that while they discussed strategy for dealing with Daala. 
 

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chapter 21:
 
The hive burst into action to receive new eggs as soon as it learned Abeloth was loose.  It is an odd way to receive what they think is the end of everything.  Raynar himself is confused and he knows them better than anyone.
 
Thuruht tries to explain it to him.  He doesn’t like that he can understand the language in a way that a non-Killik shouldn’t.  He thinks his pheromone counteragent is wearing off and he’s becoming a Joiner again.
 
He wonders if this is why they’ve been stalling about telling him what they know about Abeloth.  They want him to become a Joiner.  Thuruht explains they need the Force to make the hive grow.  It must be ready when the Ones call them to service.
 
Raynar gets it.  He’s supposed to help them grow the hive for the information he needs.  That will not make the Chiss happy.  It also increases the chances that he will become a Joiner again.  The only thing that bothers him more than that is Abeloth.  So he agrees to help.
 
They lead him to sets of panels on the walls.  There is a smiling woman surrounded by Killiks, a powerful man in dark armor with Killiks chained behind him and a high mountain peak from which an old man watches from a monastery.  He looks weary and sorrowful as he looks upon both light and dark.
 
Lowie is tired of having his time wasted.  He’s not sure what the connection is here to Abeloth.  Raynar admits he doesn’t either.  Thuruht tells him he must look for what is missing.  Raynar realizes the reliefs display a father, son and daughter, but no mother.
 
Lowie and Tekli are alarmed that he is now communicating without the aid of See-Threepio.  Raynar assures them he still has time.  He feels guilty deceiving them but he cannot risk not finding out this information. 
 
They walk to another set of reliefs that show a jungle with an erupting geyser.  Three figures float in a vapor that are the same people, but younger.   The next panel shows a beast with the Son’s head drinking out of a pool while the Father and Daughter watch.  The Daughter swims in a different pool in another scene and has the head of a bird.
 
Raynar notes the changing of form and asks if they are the same beings.  Thuruht tells them that the Ones can take any form they wish.  Tekli thinks that the pool in the picture is like the Pool of Knowledge that Master Skywalker described.
 
Thuruht tells them that the Ones are what Celestials become.  This is difficult to explain as Killik memories come from many different sources.  The Ones first arrived in the vapors from the geyser.
 
The Father tried to keep peace between the Son and the Daughter until a newcomer arrived.  A young woman with a wide smile and twinkling eyes.  That is Abeloth.
 
Thuruht can only say that a servant arrived one day.  They do not remember how.  The servant became the Mother.  The reliefs show Abeloth becoming part of a happy family, able to channel the Son’s destructive energies, doting on the Father.
 
As time past, Abeloth aged.  While the Father slept, the Daughter labored and Abeloth leaned on the Son.  She became elderly and the last panel shows the Father having an argument with the Son and the Daughter.
 
Abeloth becomes aged and sneaks a drink from the Font of Power.  Much younger then, she swims in the Pool of Knowledge looking sly and defiant at the Father.  Abeloth has changed now into one with dark eyes, long, coarse hair, tentacles for arms.  The Father shields his children.
 
Thuruht explains it’s her nature to seek what is beyond her grasp.  She is the Bringer of Chaos. 
 
Raynar speculates that the Killiks don’t care if they become Joiners.  Thuruht explains they can feel his fright and determination to stop Abeloth.  But he won’t be able to.
 
Abeloth is abandoned by the Father and his children.  She is left imprisoned in the courtyard, but she escaped many times after that, usually during periods of war and strife.  Sometimes it takes thousands of years.
 
It doesn’t happen during every war, but, when she does appear, it is usually during a time of trouble.  The Bringer of Chaos often comes when war becomes too powerful.  She shatters the old order to bring in the new.
 
Raynar doesn’t understand why she would be released now while the galaxy isn’t at war.  Thuruht reminds him the Jedi and the Sith have been at war for thousands of years.  Both of them together released her.
 
Raynar doesn’t want to believe this, but he understands how the destruction of Centerpoint Station launched a series of events that crippled Sinkhole Station, allowing the Lost Tribe to discover Abeloth’s planet.  Thuruht explains that Centerpoint was just one link in a long chain.
 
She does this inside Raynar’s head.
 
The Current has turned and the Force suffers.  Raynar mourns the fact that his friend, Jacen Solo, hadn’t just become a Sith Lord.  He unleashed Destruction herself.
 
Raynar tells his friends that a change in the Current caused Abeloth’s release.  Jacen may have freed her by trying to change what he saw in his visions.  Raynar understands the next panel is Centerpoint Station.  They harness the Force to build which is why they need him.
 
Thuruht tells him he won’t be around by that time.  The Architects, the Son and the Daughter, will bring the Force to them.  Abeloth is the only one who can bring them together because they are angered at the destruction.
 
They will form a pact and come out of hiding. He sees a relief that depicts the two as insects.  Thuruht explains that they are to the Killik.   When that happens, the hive will be ready.  Raynar understands all of this.  He also knows that, because he does, he’s not himself anymore. 
 
He tells Lowie to go back and tell the Masters that the Ones take the form that best suits their servants.  He has to stay as Raynar Thul doesn’t exist anymore.
 
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     •    So this thing about Abeloth showing up during times of great trouble…wouldn’t that mean that other cultures might have images of her?  Yet, we’ve not really run into the Father/Son/Daughter legends or images/stories of Abeloth in other species.  The only thing that comes close are the Protectors/Destructors of Kesh and that was introduced in this series.
 
 

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chapter 22:
 

Tahiri arrives at Hagamoor 3 and demands to see information on the Mandalorian who arrived a few days earlier.  She sees that Fett is clearly hunting, not bothering to hide his tracks.
 
It’s as if he wants his prey to know he’s coming.  After all, this is Moff Getelles’ sector who had betrayed Daala at Exodo II.  She tracks Fett to a mine and follows him around. 
 
She feels a sense of fear building and wonders if he’s leading her to Abeloth after all.  After forcing her way into an airlock, Tahiri runs into a Squib who doesn’t believe she’s here on behalf of Imperial Security.
 
Tahiri has a feeling she knows who this is.  She asks if he’s Grees or Sligh.  She knows he’s not working for Jag anymore, so he must be working for Daala, through her agent, Lt. Pagorski.
 
What Tahiri doesn’t understand is why she came here, deep in Moff Getelles’ territory.  She has a feeling this is the lab where the Squibs were experimented on.  Pagorski is probably looking for a base of operations where no one will notice. 
 
However, Tahiri can sense the alarm in him and determines that, whoever she is, she’s not Pagorski anymore.  Sligh confirms this very quickly.  Fett tracked him here because he’s looking for the scientists who experimented on Sligh and the others, the same ones who designed a nanovirus that was released into Mandalore.
 
He’s not here working for Daala, but to find the scientists.  Sligh grabs his face, races off and tells her to stay out of his brain.
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chapter 23:
 
Tahiri can’t find anything to suggest this place has ever been anything but a secret lab disguised as a mine.  She finds a flimsi with a campaign ad for Daala on it and can’t help but think she might do a good job as Head of State.
 
Then Tahiri recognizes the power of the Force and crumples up the ad.  There is a dark aura all over, as if Abeloth has imbued her power in the place.  She likely wants to make Daala a puppet ruler over the Empire.
 
She heads down the tunnel and finds Fett hanging upside down, trapped in ropy moss, motionless. The moss has worked its way into the seams of his armor.  Tahiri comms Lt. Vangur and tells him to do two things.  First, he is to clear two kilometers in one hour, regardless of whether she’s aboard or not.  Second, he is to relay a report to Head of State Fel telling him that, “She’s here. Act soonest…regardless”.
 
Tahiri decides to check for shield generators.  Though it would be smart to kill Boba Fett, she hesitates because she can’t be sure it’s really him inside the armor and, if it is, it’s obvious he’s not working with Abeloth or he wouldn’t have gotten caught by a carnivorous plant.
 
She approaches him, dodges a swing of his arm, uses the Force to push it back and dives for cover as a flamethrower crackles. She expects to hear his armor crashing to the floor, but only a bunch of curses in Mando’a.  He’s worse off than before as the moss has congealed into a big glob covering his arm and the flamethrower.
 
She decides to leave.  He yells that she’s really going to leave him here alive.  She reminds him he tried to slag her.  Fett retorts that he expected her to finish the job. The fact that she’s too squeamish to do it says a lot.
 
She offers to get him down, but only if he ends his role in Imperial politics.  He admits his only deal with Daala was to get her here.  That’s over. Tahiri will be glad to give him the two scientists for whom he’s searching but he isn’t sure he trusts her.
 
She tells him that her work for Caedus was a long time ago and that she’s not a Jedi anymore.  For now, she’s working for the Empire.  Fett doesn’t know it yet, but they have a mutual enemy.  Her name is Abeloth and he will want the help to get past her if he wants his scientists.
 
She cuts him down with her lightsaber while describing the little the Jedi know about Abeloth, including the fact that she can change bodies and is proving difficult to kill.  He thinks the Jedi just aren’t using the right weapons.
 
Tahiri tells him that this moss is Abeloth’s doing.  She feeds on fear and pain because they release a lot of dark side energy.  Fett tries to equate Abeloth with Vader or Palpatine.  Tahiri finally gets him to understand the gist of it.
 
He does confirm there’s nothing functional. As they move through the tunnels, they do find living beings that are infected with spores and other molds.  She has to stop Fett from using his flamethrower on them.  He tries to tell her they’re not doing the people any favors by leaving them alive to suffer.
 
 Tahiri reaches out with the Force to see what they will find on the other side of a hatch.  While he works on getting it open, she can sese a mass of fear ahead.  There are a group of being trapped.  Others appear to be frightened, but not suffering too much. She can sense the shifty presences of a trio of Squibs.  Directly beyond that is Abeloth.
 
Tahiri can feel the orb of darkness that reaches out to her.  She shuts herself down in the Force to keep from being grabbed by the tentacles reaching into her mind.  Telling Fett what she senses, he decides they’ll go after the Squibs first. 
 
They find themselves in a large vault filled with knee-high fungi and pillars of moss.  Slaves are working on pulling campaign materials.  They attack quickly but are no match for Fett and Tahiri.
 
The two intruders find the Squibs whom Fett shoots at once with stun bolts.  After exacting his word that he won’t kill them, she moves to the next room to find Dr. Frela Tarm and Dr. Jesal Yu.  She tells them that, if they have anything here that can be used to stop the nanovirus targeting Boba Fett, they may want to get it now.
 
The two scientists are shackled at the ankles.  Dr. Yu explains that, even if they could move, they can’t deactivate a nanokiller after releasing it.  That has to be designed into the original molecules. 
 
Tahiri suggests they don’t admit that to Fett who happens to be here and will keep them alive only so long as he thinks they can stop it.
 
Fear is a powerful motivator.  The two scientists start thinking of how they might be able to create a counteragent.  Tahiri asks where she can find a vidcam and uplink without Abeloth noticing.
 
They don’t know who Abeloth is, but they confirm that a Lt. Pagorski is here and her abilities fit what Tahiri knows about Abeloth.  She’s in the main lab.  Tahiri sets up the vidcam, removes her helmet and checks the time.  It’s eight minutes before midday.
 
She will have to keep Abeloth busy for that long.  Tahiri pops her head out to tell Fett that she’s found both the scientists and Abeloth.  She moves into the main lab where a female human in tattered uniform sits with stubby arms drawn out into tentacles.
 
Her voice echoes into Tahiri’s head, welcoming her.
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chapter 24:
 
Luke and his team have eight minutes to accomplish their mission.  There is a small shield generator that protects that main exhaust port in this corner of the Temple.  It’s at the end of a length of ventilation ducting.  There are two vertical shafts in between that carry enough grit to make someone feel like they’re being caught in a Tatooine sandstorm.
 
The biggest problem is the four Sith with a heavy blaster mounted on a tripod.  If Luke can destroy the shield generator, several thousand troops will come through the exhaust port.
 
This will cost more lives than the original plan, but the Sith will be outnumbered.  Sadly, none of the Jedi are in great shape.  Jaina has a broken arm and ribs, Corran has lost two fingers and has a swollen knee, Luke has a head injury and lightsaber burn on one side. 
 
Korelei appears.  She has been the bulk of the problem thus far.  Luke has already tried to trigger a detonite mine underneath, but she put up a Force shield.  She’s been hounding the three of them ever since.  She always finds where they are hiding and herds them away from the computer core.  They haven’t been able to connect back with Ben, Valin and Jysella. 
 
Jaina is using the Force to keep herself going, in a state of euphoria right now that is going to cause her to crash eventually.  Luke thinks they should go now.  Korelei is the first Sith who worries him.
 
Jaina and Corran are sent to handle rear guard.  Luke is going after the generator as that’s the most important thing.  Realizing her uncle may die doing that, Jaina refuses to leave him.  Corran tells her they’re all probably going to die.
 
Her euphoria is passing and it’s harder for her to move.  She offers to take lead, essentially to protect Corran who can use both hands.  Luke is heartbroken that he is probably sending his niece to her death just as he did her brother.  At least, they will give Ben, Valin and Jysella a chance.
 
She uses the Force to shove the heavy blaster into the exhaust port, then leaps over the first two-meter vertical pit, catches one volley of Force lightning with her lightsaber before getting hit in the chest with the second.  Corran grabs her rob and they crash onto the floor. 
 
Luke finds Korelei’s troops nearby and opens fire across the pit.  He takes down several as they try to leap across, but a half a dozen of them make it. 
 
Jaina and Corran are making the best of their situation, with Jaina saving Corran by mustering a Force blast that blows their four opponents backward.  Corran races to the generator as Jaina finally collapses from exhaustion.  Luke pushes her out of the way with the Force before turning back to his opponents.
 
He uses the Force to pull Korelei to him and collide with his lightsaber.  The impact is so hard that his head is spinning.  She pushes her palm to his chest and sizzles him with Force lightning.  She pushes off of him, and slides off his lightsaber, a gap in her torso.
 
Somehow, she can still act.  She runs after Corran who has already taken down three-quarters of the generator defenders.  Believing Luke to be incapacitated, the Sith following Korelei don’t cover each other as they leap over the next pit and he takes out a few of them. 
 
He spots Korelei floating and determines she is something other than a Keshir female.  She is almost at Jaina but has to send Force lightning to knock Corran over to keep him from reaching the generator at last.
 
Luke fires several times with his blaster, but she still keeps going.  Opening himself up to the Force, the energy comes flowing in.  He gains on her and fires repeatedly, making no difference.  Luke stops at Jaina, calls her Master Solo and tells her that the Jedi need her now.
 
Korelei finally stumbles when he fires at her head.  Jaina is unresponsive as Korelei turns, deflects the bolt and her features stretch to reveal Abeloth.
 
Tahiri doesn’t have time to call for help before she is pushed back with Force energy through the viewing panel into the genetics laboratory.  She grabs a thermal detonator in her vac suit before Abeloth’s tentacle pulls her wrist out, spins her around and tells her that they will be together a long time.
 
Tahiri pushes her lightsaber through Abeloth’s back and tries to drag it through her body.  The blade doesn’t move because another tentacle has got her other arm.  Another one slides up her body as Abeloth assures her that her body is strong and will last longer.
 
A minirocket flies out, Abeloth twists away and disappears.  Fett is still holding his launcher.  The rocket hits the floor and doesn’t explode.  Fett dips his helmet in acknowledge and disappears into the hole where Abeloth fled.
 
Tahiri pulls two more detonators and sets them in the workroom as Fett unloads everything he’s got into Abeloth.  She jumps through the viewing panel, finds the two scientists still shackled and cowering. 
 
Abeloth is countering everything the bounty hunter is sending after her.  Tahiri floats a detonator over to her, activates her lightsaber and leaps into the attack, hacking at the tentacles.
 
Fett activates his jetpack, streaks across, grabs the detonator, shoves it into one of Abeloth’s wounds and grabs Tahiri along the way.  When the detonator explodes, she hits the floor, Fett coming down on top of her.  The lab table is gone, Drs Tarm and Yu are staring into the hole.
 
Tahiri tries to get Fett to move off of her.  She shoves him off, finally.  He groggily pushes up on wobbly legs and points his flamethrower at her.  Tahiri has to push his arm in another direction.
 
Tahiri throws another detonator into the hole where it explodes.  Another blast shakes the facility but from the outside.  Fett asks if she forgot to mention something. 
 
Tahiri tells him they’re two minutes early.  The doctors, however, are in the last stages of decompression sickness.  Fett offers to let Tahiri go first, promising not to blast her in the back.  She reminds him she’s not a Jedi anymore.
 
He says she is.  He rescued her once because a deal’s a deal.  The second time was so she would owe him.
 
She gives him the copies of the nanokiller files that she had Yu make.  They may help.  She likes being owed, too.  Besides, she was Caedus’s apprentice at the time.
 
Fett hasn’t forgotten that, but that history between them is gone.  Still doesn’t make her his friend.   After all, she’s just another stinking Jedi.
 
Jaina can see Luke driving the Keshiri woman at her, Corran is limping to the exhaust port and the time is 2 ½ minutes before midday.  That’s a long time for something to go wrong.  Jaina knows she would never last that long against Korelei or whatever she is.
 
Her body is burning from the inside out.  She hears the woman wail in pain, a supernatural scream that echoes through the Force.  Luke blasts her again.  She prepares to spring after Corran when Jaina gathers her lightsaber and uses the Force to lift herself to her feet.
 
She finds herself looking into the face of death.  Abeloth.
 
Jaina leaps into the last battle of her life and is pushed down the duct.  Abeloth comes after her.  Luke follows, firing his blaster, but Abeloth is gone.  It’s not something he did. 
 
Jaina sees Corran standing at the exhaust port with a detonator in his hand.  He asks if it’s time yet.  Jaina tells him not yet.  She and Luke grab hold of each other to take that last minute together.  Luke thinks the medics will be able to help them better if they all collapse in one place.
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chapter 25:
 
As they climb high enough into the Temple to escape the acid mold and poisonous fungi, Han is still angry at the memory of Vestara Khai tossing a detonator toward the boarding ramp where Allana was standing.
 
Clearly, she had been playing Ben and manipulating Luke.  The only thing that Han doesn’t understand is how she knew about the drop-off and about Allana.  However, it does explain why the Jedi have run into so many problems inside the Temple.
 
He, Leia, Allana, Anji and R2 are together, covered with dust.  It breaks Han’s heart to see the hard weary look in his granddaughter’s eyes that had come to his own children’s when they were forced to become warriors long before they should have. 
 
The group knows the Sith are behind them somewhere.  Zekk and Taryn should be around, too, but the only thing Leia can sense is a bubble as if Zekk were hiding his presence.  Han wants to make a run for it, but Allana reminds him they are close to the Barabel nest.
 
They decide to stay together but set an ambush with a trip line and some other surprises.  When the scouts show up, they do nothing to reveal their positions.  Han has Allana hand him her blaster and lie down over Anji’s head with her eyes closed and ears covered.  He covers both of them as a thermal detonator goes off.
 
She asks how he knew that would happen. Han tells her it’s lots of experience.
 
The firefight that follows is supported by Zekk and Taryn from behind.  One Sith tosses a grenade, forcing Han to jump on Allana.  By the time it’s over, smoke is in the air and they can’t find Leia at first.  Zekk and Taryn appear, but Allana pushes off any concern for her and insists they take care of her grandparents.
 
Suddenly, they hear the sound of screams and of the clattering of rifles.  Han yells that it’s okay, they are friends.  Zekk signals the soldiers behind him to lower their weapons.
 
He greets Tesar, Wilyem and Dordi who gave the reinforcements a start.  Allana explains that they’ve come here to warn them about the Sith.  Bazel was killed trying to do it himself.  Their eggs are in danger.
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