Ylesia by Walter Jon Williams

Book: Ylesia by Walter Jon Williams Read Free Book Online
Authors: Walter Jon Williams
understand there’s been a new complication.”
    â€œHow many?” Jacen said.
    â€œTheir forces are roughly equal to ours. But so many of our personnel are inexperienced, I would prefer not to engage.” He raised his eyes from the display. “Fortunately my opposite seems in no hurry to begin a fight.”
    Indeed this was the case. The Yuuzhan Vong weren’t moving to attack, but were instead hovering just outside Ylesia’s mass shadow.
    â€œCan you give me a starfighter?” Jacen asked.
    â€œI’m afraid not. Our fighter bays were packed with operational craft only, plus their pilots—we carry no spares.”
    Frustration snarled in Jacen as Kre’fey’s attention snapped back to the display. “Ah,” the admiral said. “My opposite is moving.”
    The Yuuzhan Vong had detached a part of their force and were extending it to one flank, perhaps intending a partial envelopment.
    â€œEasily countered,” Kre’fey said, and ordered one of his own divisions to extend his own flank, matching the enemy movement precisely.
    Jacen stalked around the room in a brief circle, angry at his own uselessness. He considered returning to his X-wing and flying to Ylesia to Jaina’s aid, and then realized that his wounded craft wouldn’t be an asset, but a liability—she’d have to detach pilots to look after him, pilots who would have many better uses in an engagement than escorting a crippled ship.
    He finally surrendered to the fact he was going to spend the rest of the battle aboard
    Jacen found a corner of the bridge out of everyone’s way and let the Jedi meld float to the surface of his mind. If he couldn’t be of any direct use in the upcoming battle, he could at least send strength and support to his comrades.
    Jaina and Lowbacca, he sensed, were in motion, speeding toward their fighters. The other Jedi were waiting in their cockpits, waiting for the battle to begin. Jacen could sense them in relation to one another, an array of intent minds focused on the enemy.
    Through the meld, he sensed the Yuuzhan Vong fleet make another move, another division shifting out onto the flank, extending it farther into space. Only half a minute later did he hear Kre’fey’s staff announce the move, followed by the Bothan admiral’s counter.
    The Yuuzhan Vong kept moving to the flank. And Jacen began to wonder why.

    Pwoe and Thrackan Sal-Solo, cuffed, were keeping each other company in the back of the landspeeder. Neither of the illusory Presidents seemed to have much to say to the other, or to anyone else, at least not since Thrackan’s muttered, “Do I really have to sit with the Squid Head?” as Pwoe was directed into the vehicle.
    As it turned out there was no room for Thrackan or anyone else to sit. The landspeeders were standing room only, packed with soldiers, prisoners, and refugees.
    The vehicles moved as fast as possible toward the landing zone, though they were being slowed by crowds of refugees, slaves, and other unwilling workers begging for transport offplanet. As many as could fit into the landspeeders were pulled aboard. In their withdrawal to the landing zone the speeders hadn’t gotten onto the roads in any particular order, and the speeder that Jaina shared with Lowbacca, Thrackan, and Pwoe was more or less in the middle of the column.
    The column had reached the outskirts of the city, which at this point consisted of a strip of buildings on either side of the main road, all surrounded by wild country, unaltered terrain.
    Jaina turned at the sound of an explosion behind her, a concussion followed by a shock wave that she could feel in her insides. Smoke and debris jetted high over the surrounding buildings. The engineers had just destroyed the Brigaders’ bunker, as well as the Palace of Peace and other public buildings.
    Jaina turned to face forward just as a giant, lichen-colored beast stepped

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