The war council, as Sandarie had dubbed it, seemed to have a shortage of Zabraks considering it was their home world at stake.
Halyn Sanshir sat at the head of the table—the commander in chief of the Zabrak naval forces. To his right sat Anishor, the big Wookiee berserker and master of war. There was no one Halyn trusted more than the Wookiee.
To the General’s left was Zabrak space’s last Senator to the New Republic, Ceikeh Alari. Next to him sat the Zabrak woman Nisia Eisweep, who to everyone’s confusion insisted on calling Halyn “Jess.” She had not been assigned a role, but was included in the planning nonetheless. Beside her was Lenn Kaman, the former Imperial TIE pilot who Halyn had put in charge of a small group of special operation pilots. Beside Anishor was Ryian Coron, the Corellian captain of the Dauntless, and his wife Sandarie—a blue-skinned Twi’lek and freighter pilot. Halyn’s starfighter coordinator, Kryi Rinnet, sat next to Sandarie, and Allanna Saret, captain of the Cyclone, which was Iridonia’s second heaviest-armed capital ship remaining, finished out the circle.
Halyn tapped a button on his datapad, bringing a hologram of Iridonia flickering to life. Clearly out-of-scale, the hologram showed the disposition of the Iridonian defenses—a net of small capital ships anchored by the Star Cruiser Cathleen and the newly-arrived Dauntless, with the Cyclone between them on point.
The Yuuzhan Vong forces had reformed themselves for battle on the far edge of the system. Heavier reinforcements had finally arrived, leaving them with six cruisers capable of matching the Dauntless or Cathleen, eighteen of the light mataloks which, individually, nearly matched the Cyclone in firepower, and a host of smaller frigates and corvettes. The task force was anchored by a massive yorik coral vessel, bigger than anything any of the war council had seen in action.
“Reminds me of the grand cruiser they used at Ithor,” Ryian commented, pointing at the yorik coral abomination. “Nothing like it in shape, but the sheer size and firepower it represents…not to mention the number of coralskippers it’s likely carrying.”
“Coralskippers aren’t our worry,” Kryi interjected. “We have the starfighter squadrons we need to hold them at bay.”
“That depends on what we’re willing to commit,” Halyn said quietly.
Heads turned towards the general. “What happens if we throw everything we have at the Vong, and still lose?” he continued. “There’ll be nothing left to stop the Vong from taking every world in Zabrak space and destroying it, enslaving the survivors, and using what’s left to grow even more of these things.”
“But if you don’t use all the forces you have available now,” Sandarie said slowly, “how would a smaller force fare better later on?”
Halyn shook his head. “I plan to ensure no Vong escape this system alive. But that also means we need to make the best use of our available forces, and I intend to do that.”
“Are you going to use the starfighter trap again?” Allanna Saret asked.
“It wouldn’t work a second time. Besides, the Vong have been sending a number of coralskippers at it to keep poking the nest. There’s virtually nothing left of the droid starfighters that were out there, though they took down more skips than they lost.” Halyn studied the tactical hologram. “That old Star Destroyer hulk isn’t going to do us any good at this stage in the game.”
“What’s our plan, then?” Lenn asked.
Halyn advanced the holo. “We’ve been doing a lot of simulations,” he explained slowly as the Yuuzhan Vong warships began moving in. “Simming likely responses, tactics, and the outcome of different stratagems. All of it boils down to this: given the forces allocated to both fleets, we cannot indefinitely keep the Yuuzhan Vong off Iridonia.”
Silence reigned in the room. Most of the participants in the war council struggled to even breathe.
“Even before the arrival of that big ship, which we’re tagging “grand” for now, we couldn’t keep the Vong off Iridonia. Hurt them, yes, and kill a lot of them, yes, but we simply don’t have the heavy firepower we’d need to go toe-to-toe with their cruisers and win.”
Nisia Eisweep frowned. “Jess, somehow I doubt you asked all of us to come here just to watch Iridonia burn.”
“I have no intention of seeing Iridonia burn,” Halyn said grimly. “But I want each and every one of you to know what our likely outcomes are.”
No one spoke for long minutes as the hologram showed the Yuuzhan Vong fleet approaching Iridonia. “The Wookiees’ war cruisers are missing from the hologram,” Kryi abruptly noted.
Halyn nodded. “They were recalled to Kashyyyk. What we have left are Anishor and his berserkers,” he continued. “So we’re down to largely standard tactics at this point. The Cathleen and the Dauntless will anchor our defensive line. Our smaller vessels are operating in groups—frigates in trios, corvettes in quads. Their objectives will be to isolate mataloks and take them down with the help of their starfighter escorts. Each of them will have a fair amount of autonomy during the engagement.” As he spoke, the defensive network around Iridonia came to life, holographic ships swarming their opponents. “Half the starfighters we have here will be deployed for this operation. A third of them will be participating in the ‘hunt groups’, while the rest are directly supporting the Cathleen and the Dauntless. The Cyclone is fast enough to keep up with virtually anything on the battlefield, and will be in a swing position to support the larger warships and the hunters alike.”
<And what is the goal of this defense?> Anishor asked.
Halyn smiled. The Wookiee already knew the answer—they had discussed it before the war council. “Always good to have a shill,” he murmured before raising his voice. “Our goal is to cost the Vong ships and force them to rethink a direct approach. They can muscle their way through, but they’re going to suffer hideous losses doing so—losses that should make them rethink it.”
“And if they don’t pull back?”
Halyn’s smile was grim to Sandarie’s question. “Then we trap them against the planet and pound them into a bloody pulp.”
As the group began to disperse, Halyn and Anishor stood together at the head of the table and waited. When the individuals had spread out far enough that Halyn was sure that conversation was safe, he glanced over at the Wookiee. “What’s the status of your task force?” he asked in a whisper.
The Wookiee’s reply was so low as to be barely intelligible. <They stand ready a few hundredths of a light-year away.>
The Zabrak general nodded. It was a calculated risk they’d discussed and decided upon. Peace Brigade infiltrators were everywhere, and it wasn’t unknown for even close friends and allies to betray each other in this war. Halyn knew every member of the war council intimately, but he had to know for certain that each member was reliable.
If the Yuuzhan Vong kept forces back to safeguard against a rear-assault from the Wookiee battlecruisers and fighters, the chances of one of his members being a turncoat was slim; if the Vong committed fully to the assault, with no rear-guard, then the two of them would have to root out the traitor among them before it caused the downfall of Iridonia.
Assuming we can root out the traitor in time, Halyn thought. Everything’s balanced on a knife-edge right now; the slightest bump could send it either way.
“Keep them ready to go at a moment’s notice,” Halyn murmured. “Even if the Vong are ready for them, we may need them to beat the Vong back off.”
<Of course,> the Wookiee berserker rumbled. <With the New Republic Fleet garrisoning Kashyyyk, their absence will not be noticed for now.>
The Zabrak nodded again. “Thank you, old friend,” he said quietly. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
<Make more friends,> Anishor replied dryly.
Halyn studied the hologram, which was replaying their best-guess at the Vong fleet’s assault tactics. “Do you think we’ve got it right?”
<Near enough,> Anishor said. <Their warmaster has some grasp on tactics beyond a straightforward assault, but few of their commanders do. They certainly showed nothing but animal brutality in the first push, and we can parry it aside easily.>
“And if one of them grows a brain?”
<Then General Coatrack will have a challenge instead of a slaughter,> the Wookiee growled softly. <You can defeat them, old friend.> There was a long pause before he added, <I have known many Zabraks in my years. Your kind is stubborn to a fault and almost as warlike as the Yuuzhan Vong when they need to be. They are some of the most capable warriors in the galaxy…off Kashyyyk, of course.> The Wookiee’s lips stretched to reveal fangs. <But you have proven, time and again, that you are more than a warrior—you are a tactician, a master of strategy. You are the best chance for victory.>
Halyn shook his head. “No. The best chance was Argus.”
<You are wrong.> The Wookiee’s voice booked no dissent. <You are a greater leader than he. He chose to stay here and fight a war at home, while you saw the war on the broader scope—you understand that as the galaxy goes, so goes Iridonia.> Both of them knew that Anishor was not speaking about the current war, but a war of two decades prior, when Iridonia was crushed under the weight of the Empire. <Your sister is a Jedi Knight and a boon to your family and world, but all of this depends on you.>
The Zabrak closed his eyes. “Then I’d best not screw this up.”
Halyn opened his eyes and glanced around the room. Kryi Rinnet was speaking to Ryian Coron, while two meters away Sandarie and Allanna Saret were in close conversation. Lenn and Nisia were also engaged in animated discussion, while the Zabrak Senator Alari was merely listening to their conversation.
<How long until you meet with the Council?> Anishor asked.
“They’re pushing to meet with me soon. I’ve been deflecting them with the preparations for the next Vong advance, but I don’t know how long that will work.” Halyn hesitated. “I overstepped my bounds with the recall, and there’s enough politicians on the Council that don’t like the Sanshir clan. If I can hang onto command through the next attack, and we can turn the Vong aside again, I think I’ll have a chance of keeping it. If we meet before then, though, they might very well strip me of command and make someone else the Commander in Chief.”
<That would be a disaster.> Anishor’s voice was grim.
“Maybe,” Halyn allowed. “There are other commanders who could do this competently.”
<Yes. Competently watch the fall of Iridonia.>
“Did it ever occur to you that you may be biased?” Halyn snapped at the Wookiee.
Anishor’s voice was even. <Yes. That does not change the truth. If you’re not leading this war, it will end in disaster.>
Halyn paused at that. Anishor was more than just an average Wookiee berserker. “Have you…seen something?”
The Wookiee shook his head. <No. My talents don’t work that way. I live in the moment, not on visions of the future. It’s just an instinct…and years of experience.>
Halyn Sanshir had no use for the Force. He was not Force-sensitive, and those who didn’t know him well suspected he hated the Jedi Order. The truth was far more nuanced than that, of course—as truth tended to be. But the Zabrak was not above looking for guidance or advice from all quarters, even from those whom he normally disliked and had no use for.
He shook himself out of that state and looked around the room. “How many,” he asked quietly, “will still be alive at the end of this war?”
<That is not for us to know.> Anishor laid a massive Wookiee paw on Halyn’s shoulder. <This is what we are, Coatrack—warriors who fight to protect others from the burden. We are fighters, killers, warriors so that others can stand in our shadows and live in peace. And with that burden also comes losses. You know this—you always have.>
“Doesn’t make it easier, Furball,” Halyn said heavily.
<Nor should it.>
Halyn stepped away from the Wookiee when he saw Sandarie turn to converse with Ryian. His motion carried him beside Allanna Saret, the captain of the Cyclone.
“Captain,” he said quietly.
The Zabrak woman turned toward him. Light tattoos decorated her face, with her blonde hair pulled into a topknot surrounded by her stud of horns. Her light blue eyes were clear, but to Halyn he could see the shades of pain in them. “General,” she said quietly.
“I’m sorry I didn’t come to the wake,” he whispered.
“You were fighting the Yuuzhan Vong,” Allanna said quietly, choking on the words. “I know.”
“I wanted to be there.” Halyn shut his eyes tightly to hide the shame he felt. “Nothing should’ve kept me away from the wake for my own brother.”
“Argus was a hero for everyone,” she said quietly. “The funeral was horrible. Even on Iridonia, there were too many politicians there trying to make themselves look better.” He could feel her eyes on him, even with his own still closed. “Is that what we’re fighting for, Halyn? Is that why our children are growing up without a father?”
“I know he wouldn’t have wanted it that way,” Halyn managed. “Frak, I miss him. I’d give anything for him to be here right now leading this mess.”
“Me, too,” the captain of the Cyclone said with a broken voice that jabbed deep into Halyn’s hearts. “I miss him so much.”
Knowing it was inappropriate, Halyn pulled Allanna into a tight embrace. Several members of the war council who didn’t understand gave them covert glances, but said nothing.
Allanna and Argus had been married years previously, not long after the battle of Endor. They had met when Allanna was a civilian chef, working with Sandarie to build a business that would make them both wealthy. Argus had been making occasional runs to the Alliance’s Zephyr Base on Rori, commanded by his younger brother Halyn, to pick up relief supplies for Iridonia. There had been sparks between them even then, but Argus had been fully committed to the Iridonian Resistance and been unwilling to act on anything else. Allanna, in turn, had discovered a passion and skill for starfighter combat that had seen her transferred to the Alliance Fleet and becoming a consistent high scorer on the killboards for the Independence’s starfighter squadrons.
After Endor, with the Empire in retreat and Iridonia liberated from the Empire, the two of them had found each other and pursued what they had forgone previously. They’d been married within a year, though their first child wasn’t born until the reborn Emperor was struggling to reassert control over the galaxy. Six years had passed before more children were born: children coming of age on Iridonia even now.
And now the war was coming to them.
“Halyn,” Allanna whispered. “If something happens to me during the fighting…” her voice broke for a moment. “Will you see to them?”
“Of course.” The words fell from his mouth without need for thought. “We’re family, Allanna, even if you didn’t take the Sanshir name. Family looks out for family.”
Halyn felt the slightest pang of regret as he glanced around. So many of my friends and allies from the war have kids, families of their own. Me, I never married, never had kids, never settled down. Even Anishor, who is utterly committed to warfare, found time for a mate and cubs. Argus and Allanna fell in love and had three kids. Kativie married Hakk and managed five little ones, even with her life as a Jedi Knight in Skywalker’s Order.
And after all these years, I’m alone. A few memories flitted through his mind. It wasn’t like he’d spent the years during the Galactic Civil War, or even the years between then and now, all alone. There’d been more than a few women through his life. A’Lerris, Abi, Kelta… his mouth twisted into a small smile. And that’s not to mention the ones that I don’t remember the names for.
It wasn’t a line of thought he usually allowed himself to follow. He had, by and large, made peace with his decisions in life. Halyn Sanshir’s life had never been dull. Years of life had been spent in the thick of warfare; many of the remainder had been spend as the life of a smuggler and pirate, usually running some of the most dangerous and high-paying cargo anyone needed shipped.
Nowhere in any of those lines of work had been time or space for a spouse, a permanent home, a family. It wasn’t until his return to Iridonia at the outbreak of the Yuuzhan Vong war that he had begun anything near a normal life, and even that was in preparation for the war he knew would eventually broach the safety of Zabrak space.
No peace for the wicked. Halyn held no illusions about himself, after all these years.
“Allanna,” he said quietly, “if I don’t make it through this…” he shrugged, his shoulders rolling. “Don’t let them use my memory. I’m doing this for you and your kids, for Katie and her family, for Iridonia. Not for the politicians. Just…remember me. Flaws and all. I’m no hero.”
“I will,” she said quietly. Her face was wet now, though Halyn didn’t remember when that happened. “I won’t allow anyone to forget you.”
“Flaws and all,” Halyn added solemnly.
“Flaws and all,” she said, wiping the odd moisture from her face.
If I don’t have kids to carry on my name, then at least I’ll be remembered. “Good. Now, I just need to make sure Iridonia survives this war so that there’s someone left to remember me.” He smiled a bit. “Including Clan Sanshir.”
Allanna nodded. “My oldest was on Maria,” she said quietly. “It was how he’d want to go.” She finally smiled at Halyn. “In the finest Sanshir tradition.”
“No,” Halyn deadpanned. “I think he took after his mother.”
Ceikeh Alari stepped forward, interrupting before Allanna could reply. “Sir,” he said, looking at Halyn. “Sir, you’ll want to see this right away.” He thrust a handful of flimsiplast at Halyn.
Halyn looked at it but didn’t take it. “What is this?”
“Sir, you’ve been summoned to meet the Council. Immediately.”
Treacherous wind shear rocked the shuttle as it descended into Iridonia’s atmosphere.
Halyn felt a bit nauseated. I wouldn’t be this way if I were flying, he decided. I hate being a passenger. It was something about control. As a pilot, or as the commanding officer of Iridonia’s military defenses, he was in control of his own destiny. He’d never, ever liked being a passenger.
Trying to force away the nausea, he stared out the transparisteel viewport at the rugged landscape below.
Iridonia was one of the harshest inhabited worlds in the galaxy. Planets like Tatooine or Hoth were inhospitable, true—they suffered extremes in temperatures and precipitation, leaving Tatooine a dustball and Hoth an ice cube. Other worlds, like Duro, had been polluted to the point of deadliness, while worlds like Ithor were so wild and untamed that it became dangerous to set foot on the surface.
Iridonia, though, seemed to have an ecology designed to kill the unwary. Or, for that matter, the inattentive.
The homeworld of the Zabrak race ran on the hot side, though not quite so much as Tatooine or Ryloth. It boasted vast oceans, though they were nearly all naturally-occurring acids. Halyn had heard theories when attending school as a child that some of the early creatures to evolve on the world had naturally processed water into acid, which had destroyed a large part of the ecology and the creatures themselves.
Free-standing water still existed, of course; it tended to be highly valued, as it only was found during precipitation. It would eventually drain into the acidic oceans again, where it would become unusable until evaporation pulled it out again.
Much of the landscape was barren. Harsh jungle exists in swaths, with very little grasslands-like conditions anywhere on the planet. The early Iridonians had lived in nomadic clans, hunting much moreso than controlled agriculture. Eventually, a handful of cities were built on the planet. The capital, Rak’Edalin, was one of the half-dozen places on the entire world to boast a starport capable of servicing and refueling ships. Only two other cities were as large as Rak’Edalin, though all the major cities combined accounted for less than ten percent of Iridonia’s population.
Amazing how hard we fight for this world, Halyn thought to himself with amusement. Our ancestors were so eager to find something better that they were among the first travelers.
As the shuttle continued to drop, buffeted by winds, he imagined for a moment what it must’ve been like: the early Zabraks, with one of the first hyperdrives, choosing to leave behind a world that must’ve seemed designed to kill them—between the terrain, the oceans, the weather, the predators—for the unknown promise of the stars. They were likely trying to provide a better future for themselves and their children. It’s really not any different than what we’re doing now. If we don’t turn the Yuuzhan Vong away here, our children will lose everything—there will be no future except slavery.
The same future the Empire wanted for them. Halyn shuddered a moment before he controlled himself. We averted that once; we can do it again.
The shuttle finally dropped below the high winds and the ride smoothened. Halyn could see the capital city, Rak’Edalin, stretched out before him. He closed his eyes, seeing the buildings in his mind’s eye as well—the towers stretching up like arms reaching for the stars, the squat starports, the smaller two and three-story structures housing Zabraks who had chosen a city life instead of wanderings, the patrols of starfighters even now, and the precious clear-water lake and cannels that cut across the city. Permacrete streets and sidewalks, landspeeders, airspeeders: all the trappings of a modern city.
The shuttle settled on its struts with a sigh, and Halyn opened his eyes. The door to the shuttle’s cockpit slid open, and Senator Ceikeh Alari stepped through it. Halyn caught just a glimpse of the pilot, a pale-skinned Twi’lek that Halyn had met on occasion—Ceikeh’s wife. What was her name again?
“Are you ready, General?” Ceikeh asked. “The Council is waiting.”
“Then we’d best be going,” Halyn said, unstrapping from the shuttle couch and rising to his feet. He straightened his uniform and checked the blaster on his hip, then accepted the traditional zhaboka that Ceikeh offered him.
He examined the weapon for a moment: the weapon of an Iridonian warrior. The shaft was a meter and a long half, with thirty-centimeter blades bound on either end. He smiled faintly and slung the weapon over his shoulder. The weapon of a warrior, for the warrior who leads the Zabrak nation into its greatest trial since the Galactic Civil War.
He stopped and closed his eyes for a moment, steadying his breathing. When he opened them again, he was the General, the last best hope for Iridonia. “Let’s meet the Council, Senator.”
“The Council isn’t like the New Republic Senate,” Ceikeh Alari warned. “The Senate is about politics—re-election, posturing, and image control. The Zabrak Council cares about results.”
Halyn shook his head. “Didn’t I teach you anything, Ceikeh? All government bodies are about politics, whether they’re here on Iridonia or on Coruscant or even on Kashyyyk. Politicians are the same, regardless of where you are.”
The two walked down the shuttle ramp. Ceikeh’s wife—Arraya, that’s her name—had set the shuttle down a few hundred meters from the small round, domed structure that was built and used exclusively for the Zabrak Council.
“You can believe me or not, General,” the Senator said. “It doesn’t change reality. I’ve dealt with both bodies. I was representing them to the New Republic, so I know what both ends look like. That’s a major reason for the poor state of the war throughout the galaxy: the Senate has chosen to supervise each step of the war, rather than letting the military fight.”
“A military without oversight is a step away from dictatorship,” Halyn replied evenly. “There’s a reason most civilian governments have direct control over the military. A general can very easily lose his way and believe that his path is the best, and to hell with all the citizens who try to say otherwise.” He smiled slightly. “When the military operates without direct oversight and control, every problem faced by a nation looks like it needs a blaster bolt to the face.”
“Are you suggesting we find something else to do with the Yuuzhan Vong?” Ceikeh asked.
Halyn snorted. “Some problems need that solution. Just not every problem.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Ceikeh said dryly. “At any rate, the Council is far more interested in results than politics. Re-election doesn’t matter to most of them, because they’re like all of us. They lived under the Empire, and they don’t want to see a return to it.”
“Everyone covers their own ass,” Halyn pointed out as they neared the door—a rather small, wooden affair rather than some grand entrance. “Politicians just do it in different ways.”
Without hesitation and waiting for invitation, Halyn pushed the door open and stepped into the dim chamber inside. Ceikeh followed him in, but stopped inside the door. Halyn slowed for a moment while he waited for his eyes to adjust.
The Council’s chamber was small and sparse. There seemed to be no conference rooms or other amenities; the floor was bare stone, interrupted by rugs embroidered with names and crests of Zabrak colonies. The center of the room was open, with a double-ring of wooden benches and chairs circling the open space but broken at regular intervals. Torches lined the walls, rather than modern lighting, providing a gentle orange glow that seemed out of place in a modern city.
The benches were largely filled, and it took Halyn a moment to recognize the layout. The representatives with voting privileges sat on the inner ring; those from the non-voting colonies sat on the outer ring. The chair of the Council, who by law was the representative for Iridonia, stood waiting for him in the center of the Council chamber.
Halyn glanced up and saw very little decoration. A few tapestries hung with clan and colony motifs, but there was no elaborate artwork. As he crossed the ring of benches and approached the Council chair, he noted wryly that the center of the room was painted with the crest of the Rebellion, and later the New Republic.
“Vysht’akhoi, it is good for you to come,” the chair said.
Halyn frowned for a moment before he realized who it was: Elibet Dav, one of the earliest Zabrak representatives to the Rebel Alliance. As he stepped closer, he was startled to note she looked far older than he remembered: her features were weathered and wrinkled, and her horns were dull even by the standards of the torchlight. Like many Zabraks, she had no hair, though Halyn thought he remembered her with dark braids during the Galactic Civil War.
“I always have time for the Council,” Halyn lied.
“I’m sure you do, Vysht’akhoi.”
Halyn frowned. It was Council tradition to use Ul’Zabrak—the ancient language of Iridonia, rather than the more modern Zabraki or Basic. As usual, they used it for titles and solemnity, but not fully conducting the meeting. Too many colonial Zabraks did not understand the tongue for business to be conducted efficiently that way.
Why does she keep using my title and not my name? Loosely it translated into basic as “war champion.” It was given to the commander of the Zabrak armed forces.
“I’m sure you wonder, Visht’akhoi, why we drag you here when you are preparing for war. The Council understands well that your full attention is needed on fending off the approaches of these extragalactic invaders, these ‘Yuuzhan Vong.’ We do not want to deflect your attention from our defenses; the consequences of failure could be disastrous for us all.”
“The thought occurred to me,” Halyn said before he could still his own tongue. Dammit, I don’t need to be lipping off right now.
“Vysht’akhoi, you know as well as anyone how dangerous and critical the business of warfare can be. The Old Republic suffered loss after loss against the Confederacy of Independent Systems, in part because of its incompetent governance. Indeed, the war only began to turn when the Old Republic Senate delegated much of its power and authority to the Supreme Chancellor, Palpatine.”
Halyn nodded now, not trusting himself to speak.
“The folly of a representative body governing a war had been demonstrated yet again with the incompetence of the New Republic in defending itself. With its forces hamstrung by the Senate, it has repeatedly lost ground, to the point now that it has given up the capital of Coruscant to these invaders.” Elibet’s voice rose in passion. “The failures of the New Republic Senate haunt us all and may be the end of our civilization, though,” she shot at a glance at the door, “we do not lay fault upon our own Senator for the rampant corruption that has brought the New Republic to its knees.”
Is there a point to this? Halyn wondered.
“After careful consideration these past weeks,” Elibet continued, “and with the events of the past week in particular, with the Yuuzhan Vong assault here, on Iridonia, we the Council have chosen to make you Ul’akhoi.”
Halyn’s jaw dropped. “Ul’akhoi?” he repeated, not sure he believed himself.
“As per the rules of this Council, we have the ability to choose and appoint an Ul’akhoi during time of extreme peril. The powers granted to you are yours to use as you see fit until the Yuuzhan Vong threat against Zabrak space has been ultimately turned aside, be that tomorrow or a year from now.” Elibet’s eyes hardened even in the dim torch light. “We are aware of the danger an Ul’akhoi represents,” she continued, “as shown by the fall of the Old Republic and the rise of the Empire that followed it. Beware, General, for the Council has ceded you power, but will continue to watch you closely.”