As the forces of darkness threaten to engulf the galaxy, one last defiant spark remains.... Though the Yuuzhan Vong were victorious in their savage conquest of the planet Duro, they failed to extract sensitive information from Leia Organa Solo, who now barely clings to life after enduring the enemies' torture. Unless she receives medical attention soon, the badly wounded Princess and former head of the New Republic will surely die. Pursued by bounty hunters, Han Solo begins a race against time, only to find his urgent pleas for help rejected by planet after planet, as the Jedi are blamed for the continuing fight against the seemingly invincible aliens. Desperate, the Solos decide on a suicide mission.
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November 26, 2001
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Excerpt from Recovery: Star Wars (The New Jedi Order) (Short Story) by Troy Denning
Outside the medcenter viewport, a ragged crescent of white twinkles known as the Drall's Hat drooped across the violet sky, its lower tip slashing through the Ronto to touch a red star named the Eye of the Pirate. The constellations above Corellia had not changed since Han Solo was a child, when he had spent his nights contemplating the galactic depths and dreaming of life as a starship captain. He had believed then that stars never changed, that they always kept the same company and migrated each year across the same slice of sky. Now he knew better. Like everything in the galaxy, stars were born, grew old, and died. They swelled into red giants or withered into white dwarfs, exploded into novas and supernovas, vanished into black holes.
All too often, they changed hands.
It had been nearly three weeks since the fall of the Duro system, and Han still found it hard to believe that the Yuuzhan Vong had a stronghold in the Core. From there, the invaders could strike at Commenor, Balmorra, Kuat, and -- first in line -- Corellia. Even Coruscant was no longer safe, lying as it did at the opposite end of the Corellian Trade Spine.
Harder to accept than Duro's loss -- though easier to believe -- was the enthusiasm with which the cowards of the galaxy had embraced the enemy's offer of peace in exchange for Jedi. Already a lynch mob on Ando had killed Dorsk 82, and on Cujicor the Peace Brigade had captured Swilja Fenn. Han's own son Jacen was the most hunted Jedi in the galaxy, and his wife and other children, Anakin and Jaina, were sought almost as eagerly. If it were up to him, the Jedi would leave the collaborators to their fate and go find a safe refuge somewhere in the Unknown Regions. But the decision was not his, and Luke Skywalker was not listening.
A raspy murmur sounded from the lift station, shattering the electronic silence of the monitoring post outside Leia's door. Han opaqued the transparisteel viewport, then stepped around the bed where his wife lay in a therapeutic coma, her eyelids rimmed by purple circles and her flesh as pallid as wampa fur. Though he had been assured Leia would survive, his heart still ached whenever he looked at her. He had almost lost her during the fall of Duro, and a stubborn series of necrotic infections continued to threaten her mangled legs. Even more in doubt was their future together. She had greeted him warmly enough after they found each other again, but Chewbacca's death had changed too much for their marriage to continue as before. Han felt brittle now, older and less sure of his place in the galaxy. And in the few hours she had been coherent enough to talk, Leia had seemed hesitant, more tentative and reluctant to speak her mind around him.
At the door, Han peered out of the darkened room to find four human orderlies outside flanking the MD droid at the monitoring post. Though they had a covered repulsor gurney and fresh white scrubs, they were not wearing the masks and sterile gloves standard for visitors to the isolation ward.
"... don't look like orderlies to me," the MD droid was saying. "Your fingernails are absolute bacterial beds."
"We've been cleaning disposal chutes," said the group's leader, a slash-eyed woman with black hair and the jagged snarl of a hungry rancor. "But don't worry, we came through decon."