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The Thrawn Trilogy: The Last Command

Thrawn
Mitth'raw'nuruodo: "There are too few idealists in this universe, Car'das. Too few people who strive always to see only the good in others. I wouldn't want to be responsible for crushing even one of them."
Jorj Car'das: " And besides, you rather liked all that unquestioning adulation coming your way?"
Mitth'raw'nuruodo: " All beings appreciate such admiration."
Commander Mitth'raw'nuruodo and Jorj Car'das about Maris Ferasi[src]
Sorry about the delay, gentlebeings. I was working on my NaNo. So here's the first half of The Last Command. It's illustrated by Biukovic. While his art may not be as pretty or realistic as the art for Dark Force Rising, he's much better at rendering emotions and personality. This is f-locked for minor and rather pointless nudity, but it's SFW.


THE LAST COMMAND

The struggle for power over the galaxy continues in the wake of the Emperor's death. With the help of Jedi Master C'baoth, Grand Admiral Thrawn has seized control of the fabled Katana Fleet. The balance of power has been tipped against the New Republic. Infighting between the New Republic councilors has ceased as aggressions are turned toward a common foe - Grand Admiral Thrawn.

In addition to the Katana Fleet, it has been discovered that Thrawn is now in control of new cloning technology. With an unlimited supply of clones, the Empire's ranks will grow to enormous proportions and become more of a threat than ever before.

Having escaped the clutches of Jedi Master C'baoth, Luke Skywalker goes in search of the cloning cylinders which are swelling the ranks of Thrawn's army. Despite having lost Skywalkers, Master C'baorth continues to pursue Luke's sister - Leia Organa Solo. Once in control of Leia and her unborn children C'baoth believes he will become the undisputed master of the Empire. Thrawn, however, has different plans for C'baoth...


Comic book triage. Aaaagh. Look, find the novel.

The Chimaera drifts through space, surrounded by smaller ships. All systems are battle ready. Captain Pellaeon begins the countdown, giving launch marks to the fleet captains. Bellicose, three minutes. Relentless, four point five minutes. Judicator, six minutes. Thrawn says they're right on schedule. The Bellicose is now at the Ando system, which is sending out emergency calls. The Rebel base at Ord Pardron will send some help - leaving their real target exposed. Time to make sure their exalted Jedi Master is ready to do his part. Pellaeon goes, but unhappily.

Pellaeon walks into C'baoth's chambers, and C'baoth, plucking out the captain's doubts, says Thrawn will not always be right. Pellaeon says "You have no concept of privacy, do you?" "I am the Empire. Your thoughts are part of your service to me." "My service is to Grand Admiral Thrawn." "You may believe that if you wish." C'baoth orders Pellaeon to send a message to Wayland after the battle. He wants a clone. A very special clone, from sample B-2332-54, done in absolute secrecy, and Pellaeon is to keep this between them and forget the conversation once he has obeyed. Pellaeon's thoughts are "Grand Admiral Thrawn will have to authorize that," "I will do nothing of the sort!", and "I'll have to report this to Admiral Thrawn, too," but what he says is nothing less than unquestioning agreement. C'baoth puts up a tactical display.



He gives the order to fire. To all appearances, he fires through the shield, causing mass deaths in the city. Thrawn orders preparation for sequences three and four, and the planet's governor calls to stop the bombardment, they'll discuss terms for surrender. Thrawn's terms are simple. Lower the shields, let his forces land, turn over all fighting vehicles, and they can control their own social and political systems. The governor asks "There will be no war-level taxes? No forced conscription of our young people?" "No to your second question, a qualified no to your first. But we will need your food supplies." The governor lowers the planetary shields, asking for guarantees regarding the safety of their people and their land. Thrawn saus "Certainly."

C'baoth, still near Pellaeon, detects "his" Jedi at Filve. Thrawn wants C'baoth to confirm that the cruisers have moved to polar positions, but C'baoth doesn't care. Leia Organa Solo is his! In the Falcon, Leia, Han, Chewie, and 3PO try to evade TIE fighters while being guarded by Wedge Antilles in his X-Wing. They make right for the Star Destroyer and its escort.

They get chased by TIEs, but that's fine, since it means they can't bother Filve, which called Ord Pardron for help before putting up its planetary shield. The Falcon, Wedge, and Rogue Squadron get the hell out of there, and, safe for the moment, Leia says that when she passed through the space where the Death Star blew up, she felt the Emperor's presence. At Filve, she felt like Luke had on the Katana, when the Imperial clones came aboard.


Poor Pellaeon. C'baoth's mind trick isn't as gentle or considerate as Obi-Wan's. Doesn't matter how strong your will is, if you don't have a ysalamiri on you, you're not unaffected. Apparently this incident permanently leeched away some of Pellaeon's will, according to the Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook. Which I've never seen. If you have it, please post from it. Still, considering some of the things Pellaeon does later on... he must have had a lot of will.

Anyway, there's quite a bit of plot here, but I'll list the highlights instead of the blow-by-blow. Read the book. Luke heads to a planet with red water and pink-tinged skies, going on a New Republic Intelligence report suggesting that clones are passing through the capital. He finds Talon Karrde there, and Talon says he appreciates Luke's people taking care of Mara, who is nearly recovered.

There is gorgeous scenery. Luke worries about the potentially unlimited numbers of clones, Karrde says says it takes a year to grow one, Luke says try fifteen to twenty days. That's how long the studies say, and that, Karrde says, explains why the Empire took Ukio two days ago, for food. Luke senses clones, and the two split up, Karrde planning to indentify their point of origin.

Someone spots Luke through macrobinoculars. He's seen the special transport. A message will be sent to Thrawn - Skywalker was personally seen and allowed to leave unhindered. The man he was talking to is unimportant; forget him. On Coruscant, Mara wakes up and is greeted by Ghent, who fills her in on where she is. Mara knows Luke saved her, and gets the YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER ringing through her head. A doctor tells her that some disorientation is normal; she's been unconscious for a month. This shocks her.


Winter has a substantial role in the X-Wing comics. I'll have to post something from those.


After dressing, Biukovic! After!



On Poderis, Luke becomes aware that he's being followed. In short, he realizes that the Imperials knew he was there and brought ysalamiri. He does some very fancy evasion - you know that old pirate movie move, with a controlled fall down a sail using a knife? Luke does that with a massive wall and a lightsaber - and gets into a battered freighter, telling Artoo to watch out. On the way up, he says that they were waiting for him. It must be Delta Source. Leia said if the leak wasn't found soon, they'd have to move operations off Coruscant. Then a truly gigantic shadow falls over him. It's the Chimaera. He tells Artoo to get into the X-Wing.

You remember what happened last time Luke escaped a tractor beam, don't you?

*twitch* Longer and better in the book. I don't have the book on me, but I did transcribe this and put it on TVTropes last time I read it.

"[Pellaeon] stood there beside the newly minted lieutenant, feeling the stunned awe pervading the bridge as he watched Thrawn leave. Yesterday, the Chimaera's crew had trusted and respected the Grand Admiral. After today, they would be ready to die for him. And for the first time in five years, Pellaeon finally knew in the deepest level of his being that the old Empire was gone. The new Empire, with Grand Admiral Thrawn at its head, had been born."

On Coruscant, Leia attends a Council meeting, speculating unhappily about some new Imperial superweapon that pierces planetary shields. They've been using it in every system they've attacked. Their information doesn't show any energy stress from the shields being shot through; it must be wrong, or manipulated. Fey'lya sits silent - just when they need him most, he plays the martyr over his accusations. Ackbar wants to know why Bel Iblis isn't here; he's turned over his contacts, but he's not here. Leia has to interrupt to go down to Medical. The twins are on their way.


Weird faces are allowed when you're giving birth, all right? Considering future events, Leia, it might have been better if you only had Jaina. Who, in a bit of trivia, was named after Han's mother.

Next issue.

In short, Rogue Squadron and some other New Republic forces fight Imperials, Wedge thinking "How in blazes did the Imperials manage so precise a jump under battle conditions?!" Bel Iblis shows up in time to let his snubfighters and the Rogues head after an Interdictor cruiser, and Wedge think that that's how they did it - the gravity cone brought them out of hyperspace with pinpoint accuracy. Shooting the Interdictor brings the gravfield down. But the battle is lost; Bel Iblis just bought them the chance to escape into hyperspace.



From the X-Wing series we know that Lancers are small, fast, and very heavily armed, specifically designed to take out starfighters. Karrde's helmsman says that they're after Gillespee, and Karrde goes after the Lancers despite the odds, telling Gillespee that he's not exactly alone. A fleet of his ships shows up. Then a fleet of Gillespee's. The Lancers split. Karrde and Gillespee plan to meet, along with their colleagues, in eight days so they can hear Karrde out.



Luke, having damaged his power cells, goes to Honoghr, which is sere and brown. Noghri forces want him to identify himself, and he does, stressing that he's related to Darth Vader and Leia Organa Solo, and he thought they could help him. The Noghri say that he is placing them in great danger, but the Lady Vader has already risked much for them, so they'll help him. They send ships to guide him to a place where a river flows at the bottom of a canyon, where plants grow. Luke lands and is met by two Noghri. Who have gone through yet another redesign.


Oh, Luke. Dramatic lightning is your friend, I know, but they've got a savior already. Two saviors, really. Just look at all that detail. Biukovic was cool. In the book, Luke feels guilty about endangering them and doesn't need help, but he wants the Noghri to feel less of a debt, and every little bit will help.




Mara dreams her old dream; Vader and Luke fight in front of the Emperor, then turn in a rage and strike him down together. YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER. She wakes up tense before Leia knocks. They talk about the war. Leia wants to know if Mara knew Thrawn well; there's been a suggestion that she once served with the Empire, and she might have knowledge to use against him. Mara says not with Thrawn; he studies his enemies and tailors his attacks against their blind spots, and isn't too proud to back off when he's losing. Which doesn't happen often. As Leia says that's a place to start, Mara says "I'm going to kill your brother. Did he tell you that?" Leia wants to know why, and is told "He destroyed my live. I didn't just serve with the Empire. I was a personal agent of the Emperor himself. I could hear his voice from anywhere in the Empire and knew how to give his orders. Your brother took all that away."

Leia suggests that maybe it's not Mara who wants him dead. Mara hears that last command again and says Leia's wrong. "Am I? You said you could hear his voice from anywhere in the galaxy." She goes. Mara hears the command again and shouts "Stop it!"

Later, at night, she sense intruders, and sees people sneaking about in the hallways. She immediately pegs them as Imperial intelligence, and starts to sneak up when someone comes up behind her with a blaster and says "All right, Jade. Nice and easy. It's all over."

Back at sunset, Lando argues with Admiral Drayson about getting a ship to Nkllon, while Bel Iblis watches. Essentially, things are too stretched to spare the assault frigate Lando wants, and the admiral has a war to run. Bel Iblis offers to walk Lando to his room, on the way telling him that Delta Source complicates these things. Then Bel Iblis's plot sense goes off - there should be more guards. Lando's blaster is in his room; they decide to pick it up. Bel Iblis sees Mara and points a blaster at her, saying "All right, Jade. Nice and easy. It's all over."





Mara, Lando, Bel Iblis, and the real guards have a shootout with the Imperials, Lando running off to get Chewie and the Falcon to the outside of the tower. Leia can use her lightsaber to cut through the windo. At one point Bel Iblis saves Mara and tells her that the ones upstairs will have the door open long before Lando gets there; they need to take them now. The more now, the fewer later, when they have hostages.




Some time later, they have the kneeling guy floating in a bacta tank, and they've identified him as Major Himron. Leia is being settled in another suite. Lando complains that he and Chewie didn't get to do anything but watch, and Han says don't blame him, that was Mara's doing. A New Republic security guy talks to Himron, tells him he failed and is the only survivor. Himron says Mara Jade let them in, so the security guys go to arrest her. Lando realizes where he'd seen her before - she was one of the new dancers at Jabba the Hutt's palace when Han was there in carbonite! Han doesn't care. She still shot those Imperials off their backs. They need to figure out what's going on.

Karrde, at a structure on a nice-looking world, goes over the guest list and is unhappy to see Niles Ferier on it. He snatched the man who found the Katana fleet for Thrawn. And seemed to enjoy it. Karrde's people say the local Imperial garrison looks like "a morgue on its day off", and Karrde decides to go through with the meeting anyway, his guests are hardly helpless. An hour later and an assortment of smugglers are around a table. A Trandoshan says Karrde is passionate, but the Empire pays well for smuggled goods.

Hey look, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo! That woman with black hair and makeup standing next to Mazzic is Shada Du'kal, one of the (many) major characters in the Hand of Thrawn duology. Don't worry, there won't be a quiz.

They're interrupted by an explosion and Imperials, including stormtroopers. Karrde's second in command says it looks like Karrde was right about Ferrier.

But Karrde sees Ferrier''s Defel sneaking around between the stormtroopers, attacking one. Karrde calls for the attack.

The smugglers all get into position in a rather badass splash page that I wish I could show you. But pagecount.

Next issue.

There's a firefight. Shada uses her hairpin things as throwing knives.

After it's done, Gilespee says they got Lishma. He wasn't even shooting. Karrde is sorry. Mazzic says the Empire is going to be a lot sorrier. Needless to say, everyone is now more inclined to listen. They get off the planet and make plans - some will help Karrde track down the clone pipeline, some have other ideas. Karrde's second, Aves, asks how he thinks the Imperials found them. Karrde will have his people make inquiries. Meanwhile, there's a hunt to organize.



If there's another Imperial leader who doesn't take the deaths of four stormtroopers and thirty-two Imperial army troopers(odd thing about Zahn - his stormtroopers are badass. And he actually does use army troopers and so on, instead of acting like stormies are the only soldiers the Empire has) lightly...



Biukovic drew the best peeved faces.

Luke feels a disturbance in the Force, coming from Leia. "Do you think we should run?" "No, but we can walk fast." Leia visits Mara in her cell, asking why she saved her twins. Mara looks away. "I guess I just couldn't stand the thought of Thrawn stealing your children." Leia says she'd better get to the briefing and see what Thrawn's clones are up to now. This surprises Mara, getting Leia to fill her in about Thrawn and the Spaarti cloning cylinders. Mara thinks she knows where they are. Wayland. There are at least twenty thousand cylinders there. Leia leaves abruptly, telling Mara to keep this quiet. Thrawn's getting information out even now, and this is well worth killing for.

There is a little meeting of the droids, Leia, Luke, Han, Lando, Chewie, and Winter. Long story short, Leia tells them everything. They're going to have to bust Mara out and go there, and Leia's calling for help, so they have a few days to get used to her idea and plan.

As part of a plan with Mazzic, Karrde shows up at the Bilbringi Imperial shipyards, his cover story being that he's got a cargo of power converters, and notices midsize asteroids, twenty-two of them, near the center of the shipyard. They cant towards a half-finished Star Destroyer.

The Star Destroyer explodes, Mazzic's doing. About to pitch in, Karrde sees what else Mazzic's doing and decides to stand by and let Imperial inspectors look at the cargo, still playing a legitimate freighter. Karrde leans against a bulkhead, saying "We're not going to be able to stop here. We're going to have to organize. All of us."



I think that face Thrawn made is the best furious/pained look I've ever seen. Maybe I should icon it.


Better in the book; creepier, anyway. Being controlled by C'baoth is not at all good for a person. I do love that quote, though.

Mara has the dream again, and is awakened by Luke opening the door to her cell. She grabs a datapad and flings it at him; he catches it and says he's here to get her out. They're going to Wayland.

Mara, Luke, Han, Chewie, Lando, Artoo, and 3PO leave Coruscant in the dead of night. Mara muses that there's five of them(she doesn't count the droids) against an Imperial stronghold, and the only one who trusts her is the man she has to kill.




Coruscant is under attack. The Noghri watch Winter and the twins while Leia rushes to a command center. Ghent's there, saying he was bored, so he cut himself an entry code. Leia grabs him and puts him to work on the Imperial crypt codes.


I don't have the book with me, but again, I transcribed a passage for TVTropes last time I had it.

"After all these years, I finally understand why she does things the way she does. I've always assumed that she was gathering more and more power to herself simply because she was in love with power. But I was wrong. With everything she does there are lives hanging in the balance. And she's terrified of trusting anyone else with those lives."
All the pieces of [Leia's] life these past few years fell suddenly into place. All the diplomatic missions Mon Mothma had insisted she go on, no matter what the personal cost in lost Jedi training and strained family life. All the trust she'd invested in Ackbar and a few others; all the responsibility that had been shifted onto fewer and fewer shoulders. Onto the shoulders of those few she could trust to do the job right. Mon Mothma shows up to tell Bel Iblis that they've had their differences, but they were a good team once and can be again. Bel Iblis formally requests her permission to take command of Coruscant's defenses, and Mon Mothma gives it.

Thrawn tells Pellaeon to observe a dreadnaught moving into cover position for retreat. He muses that they never should have brought those ships out in the first place. Their old Corellian adversary must have just been put in command of Coruscant's defenses. Wonder what took them so long. Thrawn points out the choice the Corellian is offering - stay here and fight the battle stations, or follow the defenders down into the range of the ground-based weaponry. They have a third option, though. Wait for the Corellian's ships to pull back a little further. We wouldn't want him to miss this.

In the control center, technicians tel Bel Iblis about readings from the Chimaera's hangar bay. Like launching tractor beams, but they're pulling too much power and as far as they can tell, nothing's left the bay. Bel Iblis, no fool he, tells the technicians to calculate the exit vector and start looking for emissions. Chimaera must have just launched a cloaked ship.


Ion bolts reveal an asteroid. Then the Chimaera's turbolasers annihilate it. Thrawn wants firing statues for the hangar bay. He's told that they're up to seventy-two, but if they keep up these dry firings they'll burn out the power feedback shunt. Thrawn orders dry firing to stop. How many total firings? Pellaeon tells him two hundred eighty-seven, including twenty-two actual asteroids. With the cloaks, there's no way of knowing if they're in the prescribed orbits. Thrawn says the orbits are irrelevant; all that matters is that the asteroids are circling Coruscant. Now they leave. Coruscant is effectively out of the war.

The Council meets. Total count is two hundred eighty-seven. Bel Iblis says the Empire can't afford that many cloaking shields, and there must be fewer cloaked asteroids than that. But how many doesn't matter. Coruscant is surrounded by cloaked asteroids in decaying orbits; until they've been cleared out, they can't lower the shield and let anyone in or out. But they don't know how to locate the asteroids, or know when they've gotten them all. Someone breaks the news that Mara has escaped. Leia says they shouldn't bother searching, and tells them about Mara taking her brother and husband to find the cloning facilities. The security people are not happy about this. Mon Mothma tells them to deal, and Leia says they have to pretend Mara is still here so the Empire won't be prepared. Now they need to concentrate on Coruscant's defense.

On the way out, Leia is interrupted by Ghent. He calls the battle encrypt codes silly. Leia suggests taking him to talk to the person in charge and make some suggestions, but Ghent turns her down, since military types don't like how he does things. Then he gives her the encrypt code from the pulse transmitter used by Delta Source. Leia thinks that this is the key to Delta Source.


Next week: the conclusion.

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