X-wing: Mercy Kill is the tenth and latest installment in the X-wing series of novels. It is a side novel to Apocalypse, the ninth and final volume of the Fate of the Jedi series. It was written by Aaron Allston and features Wraith Squadron. The novel was announced on August 14, 2010 at Celebration V, and took the slot of the previously canceled Imperial Commando 2 novel. It was released on August 7, 2012,. In a May 2011 Facebook Q&A, Sue Rostoni confirmed that the novel takes place around the end of the Fate of the Jedi series. Shelly Shapiro hinted that there are actually two Wraith Squadrons, and that both are unaware of each other.
Three decades have passed since Wraith Squadron carried out its last mission. Taking on the most dangerous and daring operations, the rogues and misfits of the elite X-Wing unit became legends of the Rebellion and the Second Galactic Civil War, before breaking up and going their separate ways. Now their singular skills are back in vital demand—for a tailor-made Wraith Squadron mission.
A powerful general in the Galactic Alliance Army, once renowned for his valor, is suspected of participating in the infamous Lecersen Conspiracy, which nearly toppled the Alliance back into the merciless hands of the Empire. With orders to expose and apprehend the traitor—and license to do so by any and all means—the Wraiths will become thieves, pirates, impostors, forgers . . . and targets, as they put their guts, their guns, and their riskiest game plan to the test against the most lethal of adversaries.
The novel starts off in 13 ABY where Imperial Admiral Kosh Teradoc meets up with a Captain Hachat for a priceless work of art. They rendezvous in a bar on the world of Ryvester, and after the work of art is examined by Dr. Mulus Cheems, Teradoc elects to take all of the riches from Hachat. When Hachat begins insulting him as a result, Teradoc threatens to imprison him. The confrontation spills out into violence as Hachat, who is really Garik "Face" Loran, captures Cheems and evacuates with the rest of Wraith Squadron, which includes Elassar Targon, Voort "Piggy" saBinring, Kell Tainer, Hohass "Runt" Ekwesh, Shalla Nelprin and Bettin. During the resultant chaos, Teradoc takes the work of art. With Cheems now in Wraith Squadron's company, they tell him that they saved him from Teradoc, since Cheems was in fact a prisoner, and he is grateful for what they did for him. And as for the work of art, it was really just a set of explosives that managed to kill Teradoc in his own base just as it goes off (Cheems was lying to Teradoc about the validity of the work of art for the sake of his own life).
In 19 ABY, Wraith member Piggy is on yet another mission with fellow Wraiths Shalla and Runt to successfully blow up an Imperial station just before the New Republic's war with the Empire ends. During this, Piggy regrets that Shalla will retire now that the war will end soon.
In 29 ABY, near the end of the Yuuzhan Vong War, on the world of Chashima, Piggy acts as a sniper for Runt and Estoric Sandskimmer just as the latter two are getting away from a shaper damutek with a new secret weapon that the Vong had developed. Unfortunately, in spite of Piggy's help, both Wraith members are killed, and Piggy is forced to perform a mercy killing on Runt by shooting him through the chin so he wouldn't have to continue to suffer the effects of the amphistaff venom that poisoned him. Piggy later resigns and renounces his nickname not only because Runt died painfully and under his hand, but because his death was pointless; the weapon that the Vong had developed at that point wouldn't be able to help them against the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances given that the GA has them on the ropes now.
The novel then jumps forward in time to the present in 44 ABY on the world of Ayceezee, where Voort is a mathematics professor. He soon runs into Face Loran who convinces him to return in order to prove that Galactic Alliance General Stavin Thaal was part of the Lecersen Conspiracy.
Voort and Face travel back to Coruscant where Face hands Voort off to Myri Antilles and Trey Courser even as Wraith Squadron is on a mission-in-progress, which involves blacking out a spaceport and the hijacking of a GA military hauler. Myri and Trey, with Voort, travel to their "unsafe house" where they meet up with the rest of Wraith Squadron, which includes its leader Bhindi Drayson, Jesmin Tainer, Turman Durra, and Viull "Scut" Gorsat, the latter of whom turns out to be an Extolled member of the Yuuzhan Vong. After Wraith Squadron escapes the pursuits of the GA military, Voort is initially distrustful of Scut because of who he is. Regardless, in spite of Scut's own personal problems with Voort, they manage to learn to work with each other as they and the rest of the squadron plot to reveal General Thaal's guilt as a member of the Lecersen Conspiracy.
While the rest of the squadron pursue to prove Thaal's guilt, Voort, Myri, and Trey are sent off to Vandor-3 for a droid subversion mission, as the planet is occupied by soldiers, called Pop-Dogs, who are loyal to Thaal; this mission may help the squadron in their investigation. After a few days, the trio of Wraiths fool the occupying soldiers into believing that they're dealing with an anti-violent movement called the Quad-Linked Militant Pacifists (this way, the resultant security increase by the Pop-Dogs would allow more blasters to come in for them; that way, Voort, Myri and Trey can sneak more miniature droids as blasters). Bhindi, though, soon calls Voort and Trey off of Vandor-3 to rejoin the rest of the squad while Myri is to stay behind to continue with the Vandor-3 mission.
Wraith Squadron travel to Imperial space and board the Bastion Princess to further their investigation into Thaal's guilt. After several procedures in which they sabotage the ship, they evacuate via escape pod to be picked up by a Burst Fire-class Deep-Space Patrol Vessel called the Concussor. Wraith Squadron soon take over the ship and strand the crew on a habitable planet with substantial provisions to live off of before they can be picked up later on. Bhindi then sends Myri a message that she is to give to Thaal back on Coruscant, which is from that of Turman, disguised as Imperial Lieutenant Commander Avvan Hocroft, telling Thaal that he wants to work with him for power; if Thaal shows up, Wraith Squadron will be able to get evidence on the General that proves his guilt in the Lecersen Conspiracy. Myri is able to send the message to Thaal, but unfortunately, he has Alliance Captain Voyce Evlen, commanding the corvette Starhook, confront the Concussor instead. The Wraiths' plan is soon discovered by Evlen, who then attacks the Concussor with the other Alliance vessels that she brought with her. The attack quickly cripples the Wraiths' commandeered patrol vessel, which forces them to evacuate via shuttle, with Voort taking a TIE interceptor with him to cover for the rest of the squadron.
Wraith Squadron then secretly return to Vandor-3 by way of Tatooine in order to reconvene with Myri. Although Thaal didn't respond to Hocraft's proposal, the Wraiths, by Voort's logic, determine that Thaal is definitely guilty, and that he is deliberately making himself look stupid; he is planning to retire soon. So they decide to infiltrate the Caridan animal exhibit that, while it doesn't have any definite connections to Thaal, is still suspect to be under his ownership given his occupation of Vandor-3 during the Yuuzhan Vong War.
On Coruscant, Face interviews the most recent of Thaal's ex-wives, Zehrinne, to find any evidence as to his guilt regarding the Lecersen Conspiracy. He doesn't get any substantial evidence other than the fact that Thaal has been having several wives prior to Zehrinne. Face later finds out that during the run of the Lecersen Conspiracy, much equipment under HyperTech Industries, particularly commlinks, had been stolen and pirated but never recovered by any means. He manages to relay all this information to Wraith Squadron just as they are arriving to Vandor-3 from Coruscant, which is what justifies their investigation into the animal exhibit. Face, however, is soon tailed by a trio of assassins later on. He manages to kill two of the assassins and later tricks the remaining one into thinking that he died via a bomb planted in his airspeeder. In the meantime, though, Wraith Squadron believes that Face is dead. The remaining assassin, however, is later killed by Face's wife, Dia Passik, when he tried to kill her and her daughter, Adra.
The squad's investigation leads them to discover that Thaal has stored and has been secretly selling thermal detonators and various other illegal products, including sabotaged commlinks meant to secretly relay information back to Thaal to help his criminal enterprise. Myri and Trey also discover and release Usan Joyl and Dashan Joyl, the former who is an identity forger whose reputation Myri is greatly familiar with. The squad proceeds to leave before they run into another Wraith Squadron led by Sharr Latt, whose members consist of Thaymes Fodrick, Drikall Bessarah, Wran Narcassan, and Huhunna. They are also out to prove Thaal's guilt. Both Wraith Squadrons are soon discovered by the exhibit's security, forcing them to make a fast getaway. Their pursuers soon force them into a predicament where Myri and Jesmin have to return to Ackbar City on foot in order to call for backup and extraction while Bhindi and Huhunna take cover on the ground to shoot down their pursuers. However, Bhindi is shot while the rest of the two squads hole up in Mount Lyss to fend off against their attackers for a few days. During this time, Usan explains that Thaal has been using him as part of a plan to surgically, and even genetically, change his and his loyal soldiers' appearances so that they would be able to escape punishment for crime and treason; Thaal is even having background histories for himself and his soldiers changed as part of the plan. Huhunna soon arrives with a wounded Bhindi. In spite of Drikall's efforts to heal her wounds with his medical expertise, Bhindi dies off from her injury and fails to pass on command. Regardless, Voort takes command of the squadron of his own initiative in spite of Scut's obvious reluctance. Voort then privately discusses with Scut about the Yuuzhan Vong's personal problems with the Gamorrean, and Scut cites that Voort is acting irrationally and has no love for anything, both which cloud his judgment. Voort continues on with his leadership anyway as they get backup in the form of Wedge Antilles and Tycho Celchu piloting StealthX X-wing starfighters as they escort a shuttle, piloted by Kirney Slane, meant to extract both Wraith teams. However, before the Wraiths leave, they leave Bhindi's corpse behind to be blown up via a dead man's switch that would inadvertently activate a bomb that will kill any of Thaal's searchers, which works. In the aftermath of this, Thaal believes that the late Ton Phanan is still alive and leading the Wraiths.
The next destination in the combined Wraiths' journey is the world of Kuratooine, where they have reason to suspect that Thaal will retire as the millionaire Thadley Biolan, possibly intending to take a local famous singer, Ledina Chott, as a lover and wife. Voort resolves his problems with Scut, and with himself over Runt's death, even as he fully aligns himself as the leader of the new squadron, coming up with a final plan to bring Thaal to justice. Dr. Cheems comes to help Wraith Squadron to forge jewels for the plan; he helps them not only because they saved him 31 years earlier, but because he is the human who adopted Scut. Voort then has Trey disguised as Biolan/Thaal and he and some other Wraith members kidnap Ledina in order to frame Thaal before they bring the singer to a warehouse that acts as one of the bases where Thaal conducted his criminal activities. Voort and Myri cause enough chaos in X-wings to summon the military's attention as the rest of the Wraiths do so whilst performing their duties elsewhere on Kuratooine. Thaal soon arrives, having been tricked by Turman into believing that he (Turman) is part of a species containing valuable jewels that could add to Thaal's wealth (Scut created the alien suit from his biofabrication). In the end, the Wraiths are able to use Thaal's genetic disguise against him once they convince the public that he's wearing makeup that makes him appear what he looked like prior to his transformation. Thaal is arrested by Alliance Colonel Kadana Sorrel, and the Wraiths leave the planet in secrecy, with Voort, now retaking the moniker of Piggy again, having enjoyed himself (as part of the trap, in order to gather witnesses to validate Thaal as a fraud of himself, Voort danced to the music of an independent band to attract attention to himself).
The novel ends with the revelation that Face survived the assassination attempt and he confronts the current head of Galactic Alliance Security, General Borath Maddeus. Face calls out Maddeus as being part of the Lecersen Conspiracy with Thaal, and had even helped him escape prison on Coruscant following the events on Kuratooine. Face reiterates that Maddeus hired him to reassemble Wraith Squadron to uncover Thaal's guilt as a front; so Face had assembled two in order to throw Maddeus off of Face's true intentions. Maddeus is soon taken in even as Thaal is brought back to prison. Face then takes over as the head of GAS, with Wraith Squadron now a secret, unofficial unit.
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Behind the scenesEdit
On page 156, there is an error during the 29 ABY chapter of the novel. The narration states that Piggy cannot risk opening up a comm channel to Bhindi Drayson because of what the New Republic Intelligence Service believed about the shapers' nest on the world of Chashima. By this time, the New Republic was dead and had been replaced by the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances as the government-in-exile in the closing months of the Yuuzhan Vong War; therefore, New Republic Intelligence should have been the Galactic Alliance Intelligence Service.
On page 225, a line read, "Though [Voort saBinring's] own scope, he could see that Wran was correct." "Though" should have been "through."
On page 272, Kura City is misspelled as Kuat City.
A continuity error exists regarding Scut's character; Bhindi states that he is a member of the Extolled caste among the Yuuzhan Vong, yet the Shamed Ones had only ever become the Extolled by the time they came to be on the living planet of Zonama Sekot. During this time, Scut had still been part of the larger part of the galaxy because of his adoption by Dr. Mulus Cheems, so it is unknown how he himself would know about being part of the Extolled, much less Bhindi knowing about this.
Several times in the novel, Senator Haydnat Treen was mentioned as being part of the Lecersen Conspiracy, yet no mention is given as to her fate; given the apparent widespread knowledge of her involvement in the conspiracy, it seems clear that she would face the consequences for attempting treason against the Galactic Alliance, but there is no implicit or explicit reference as to whether or not she would have to face any such penalties.
Even though he is mentioned in the Dramatis Personae, Wedge Antilles only appears in one scene.
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Sue Rostoni on the StarWars.com Message Boards
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Facebook announcement by Erich Schoeneweiss
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 The Essential Reader's Companion
- ↑ Facebook announcement by David Pomerico
- ↑ Facebook announcement by Erich Schoeneweiss
- ↑ Chapers.indigo.ca page for X-wing: Mercy Kill Paperback