- "Denning says he's doing a novel about a year after Apocalypse ends. It stars the Big Three, and starts in a cantina, "and yes, Han shoots first." It'll be set in a new part of the galaxy, that's new to readers. Lando is involved, no grandkids."
- ―Newsarama.com reporting an interview with Troy Denning during the SDCC 2012
Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia have spent a lifetime fighting wars, bringing the Jedi back from extinction, raising families, and saving the galaxy more times than they can count. They've earned the right to rest on their laurels and let the younger generation shoulder the burden--but fate has another adventure in store for our heroes, a quest only they can tackle and hope to survive...
The novel opens up aboard Brink Station in a cantina called the Red Ronto where Han and Leia Organa Solo are waiting for Lando Calrissian. Lando had called Han and Leia down here because he wanted to discuss with them as to how best they could solve the pirate problem plaguing the Chiloon Rift where he had established his latest asteroid refinery. Instead, they are met by a mysterious young man named Captain Omad Kaeg of the Joyous Roamer, an asteroid-tugging ship in the Rift that is currently undergoing repairs from a recent pirate attack. Kaeg informs the Solos that Lando sent him and he offers himself as a guide inside the nebula. Han and Leia are suspicious, as they ask him several questions, one of which is why Lando didn't come or inform the Solos of it ahead of time himself. Kaeg tells them that he is just as in the dark as they are. Before they can come to any agreement, however, three members of the exotic species known as the Nargons walk into the cantina with two Mandalorians. Kaeg informs Han and Leia that the Nargons and Mandalorians were hired by Galactic Exploitation Technologies, or GET, a giant conglomerate looking to rob the business of the independent miners, like Kaeg, in the nebula; the Mandalorians were hired to act as security against the pirates, with the Nargons helping them.
The Solos and Kaeg are met by the Mandalorians, Scarn and Jakal, and one of the Nargons, Qizak, and it turns out that Kaeg owes them a massive debt of one million credits from a sabacc tournament he participated in. Scarn informs Kaeg that he can easily settle the debt by signing away all of his shares in the mining cooperative he's involved in to Galactic Exploitation Technologies, something that Kaeg refuses to do. When Qizak threatens Kaeg to do so, Han and Leia determine that Kaeg had been deliberately set up by GET since the pirate attack that crippled the Joyous Roamer; Kaeg had been manipulated into participating in that sabacc tournament and Scarn had cheated since he has a prosthetic eye that could help him win just so that Kaeg would end up in this situation. In spite of Scarn's insistent protests to the contrary, he agrees to leave Kaeg alone and refund him the money he owed. However, Qizak calls Scarn out as a coward for not standing his ground, and it all eventually devolves to violence when Qizak kills Scarn and seriously wounds Jakal before attacking the Solos and Kaeg. During the brief fight, Leia cuts off both of Qizak's arms then later his head, and Han notes that the Nargon's insides are composed of machinery. He manages to steal one of Qizak's arms as he flees with Leia and Kaeg from the other two Nargons for investigation (it turns out that the Nargons are genetically engineered by GET). He later sends his findings and what happened in the Red Ronto to the Jedi Temple on Shedu Maad.
Grand Master Luke Skywalker receives the transmission and decides to go to the Chiloon Rift to investigate for himself. He starts off on Coruscant incognito where he meets Sullustan Senator Luewet Wuul privately. Wuul tells Luke that the owners of GET, Columi brothers Marvid and Craitheus Qreph, are operating in the Chiloon Rift as criminal masterminds, a fact known unofficially. Their activities in the Rift are part of their hostile takeover of practically every major industry in the galaxy. After Luke departs to the Rift with this knowledge, Wuul is killed thanks to the Qrephs' machinations.
In the Chiloon Rift, the Qreph brothers are trying to buy Lando Calrissian's asteroid refinery, but Lando, aware of the Qrephs' reputation, stalls from even agreeing to give his refinery away, especially after Han and Leia inform him of the incident in the Red Ronto. As a result, the Qrephs send their spy in Lando's company, Dena Yus, to sabotage the refinery and destroy it, something that Han, Leia, and Lando fail to stop. However, after Han and Leia join up with Luke, they agree to investigate further, but Han gets captured by mercenaries Mirta Gev and Savara Raine, who were working for the Qrephs. Luke, Leia, Lando, and Kaeg manage to track down the Ormni, the ship where Han was located, thanks to a tracking beacon Luke placed on the vessel that took Han. But the Qrephs, having figured out what Luke did to the vessel that took Han, manage to take off to their Base Prime in the heart of the Chiloon Rift before Han can be rescued, leaving Luke and Leia to fend for themselves as they fight their way aboard the Ormni. There, they hold off from getting captured by the ship's forces before Lando, Kaeg, and Jedi Knights Ben Skywalker and Tahiri Veila manage to save them.
After Luke and Leia are saved, they're briefed about Dena Yus's betrayal, as well as the knowledge of the Qrephs' Base Prime, which was uncovered by the astromech droid of missing Knight Ohali Soroc, Ninette. The group then travels to Base Prime, which is located atop a structure which may or may not be the Mortis monolith, with a squadron of YVH droids for support. As the invasion on Base Prime commences, Han manages to break free of his captivity with Ohali Soroc and a psychotic Force-sensitive Mandalorian named Barduun, who later dies in the midst of the showdown. Meanwhile, Craitheus is used as a shield by Savara Raine, who is really Vestara Khai and was in fight with Ben Skywalker, amidst the fired shots, rendering him half-dead as a result. Marvid betrays Vestara in turn by leaving her to die and replacing her with a human-Columi clone of her named Savara Two, which Marvid had organized the creation of previously. But Vestara manages to escape with Mirta with the help of the Sith Meditation Sphere known as Ship.
Luke, Han, and Leia all reunite in time to confront the Qreph brothers inside the mysterious monolith that Base Prime is atop of, something that the Qrephs intended to do previously (they needed a Force-sensitive being, like Vestara or Savara Two, to enter). There, all six of them, including Savara Two, are transported to a mysterious world where the Qrephs are granted extraordinary Force powers. Savara Two is killed by Luke, who used the Force on her, and then he and Leia fight the Qrephs from escaping back into the mortal realm. In the end, with both of them using the Force against the brothers, Leia kills Craitheus and Luke kills Marvid, before the human siblings disappear into the Force, leaving Han completely alone. However, he manages to bring Leia back first by saying her name, and Luke is brought back when his name is said. The three of them then leave the mysterious world thanks to Lando's guidance from the outside, and they leave with the knowledge that the light and dark sides of the Force are there to balance the Force out.
Three months later, Base Prime has been destroyed, the heart of the Chiloon Rift was cordoned off to prevent anyone from interacting with the enigmatic monolith, and Dena Yus was waiting to be judged for her betrayal. The novel then ends with Luke, Han, Leia, Lando, Kaeg, Ben, Tahiri, Ohali Soroc, and Jaina and Jagged Fel celebrating their victory in the Red Ronto.
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This is a gallery of the different cover variations of Crucible.