A Jedi stealth shuttle arrives on board the Nightengale. On board are Master Kyp Duron and seven other Jedi. Master Luke also sends word that he will not be taking part in this mission, but will attempt instead to negotiate with the Volon-Vong on Casperia’s behalf.
Countess Adriana and Master Kyp have come up with a plan, but first, Captain Sunrider must brief them on what they are looking for.
Captain Sunrider has found evidence that Dr. Ploon was designing giant cybernetic implants to be grafted into a Yuuzhan-Vong ship. The implants would significantly augment the ship’s capabilities and allow a Human crew to pilot it. Dr. Ploon died 17 years ago, long before it was possible to complete his research.
Two years ago, somebody raided the Yuuzhan-Vong colony on Voonlar and stole a baby battleshp. At about the same time, Dr. Ploon’s cybernetic research was also stolen, most likely by the same people. It is estimated that, if the implants work and the ship is properly raised to adulthood, it might become significantly more powerful than the Death Star. Granted, the Death Star is powerful enough to destroy a planet in a single shot and you don’t need any more firepower than that, but this ship would have a greater firing range, more speed and the ability to maneuver at least as well as any other capital ship.
The seven Casperian stealth ships, plus the Jedi stealth shuttle, will each take one Jedi and spread out across the galaxy, in search of the cyber-ship. Between the use of the force by the Jedi and some new scanning software specifically attuned to the unique ship they are looking for, they should be able to recognize the cyber-ship if they pass anywhere near it. Their orders are to locate, report, and absolutely not to engage the cyber-ship. Once it is located, the fleet will converge en-masse and try to destroy it with the Mandalorian anionic torpedoes.
After investigating a few red herrings, the Nova Star arrives at a nebula known as Mare Charybdis. This nebula has two massive black holes in the center, orbiting each other and dragging the gas of the nebula into a cyclonic shape with a cat-like eye. The gasses are ionically charged and massive arcs of enercy sweep through the charged gasses. Only a ship at least as resistant to ionic energy as the Nova Star would dare to enter Mare Charybdis.
But some have dared. As they investigate the supposedly unexplored planets along the outer reaches of the nebula, they find traces of impirial star destroyers – the wreckage of a shot-up TIE fighter, bits of random trash, scorched stormtrooper armor, damaged engine parts, etc. They find a cloud of tiny fragments about the same mass as a star destroyer. Further in, they find the entire conning tower of a star destroyer tumbling through space. The markings indicate this ship is the Emerald Millenium and include the logo of the Czerka Corporation.
The characters suit up and spend a few hours exploring the wreckage. For once, there is nobody shooting at them, but the wrecked ship is still a dangerous place. Over time, they manage to put together a partial picture of what has happened here.
The Emerald Millenium was a newly built science ship based on the Impirial Star Destroyer. Instead of thousands of troops, it contained massive research facilities. In place of most of the fighters and ordinance, they had more and bigger shuttles. In place of Impirial officers, they had Czerka employees in pseudo-military uniforms that looked very much like Impirial uniforms.
By putting together command codes, event logs, error reports, power flow data, failure times and other recovered data from various systems, they get an idea of what heppened to the ship. The astrogator had just made calculations for a hyper-jump, when the helmsman began a hard turn. Seconds later, the ship was struck by a massive energy blast, powerful enough to collapse their shields. They returned only a few shots before they were struck again, this time splitting the ship right down the middle. The conning tower was thrown off as the rest of the ship was destroyed. Most crew in the section died from exposure to space, if they survived the g-forces.
Once the characters manage to reach the quarters of the top officers, the captain’s office and the VIP quarters, they start finding what they are really looking for – evidence linking the destroyed ship to the cyber-ship. They find enough information to grow and outfit a cyber-ship of their own, including tactical plans for the raid on Voonlar. They also find more information linking the project to Count Vladimir Monocerotis I and proof that part of the research was carried out on Casperia. They discover that the ship’s captain was Marko Tarkin, grandson of the infamous Grand Moff Tarkin. More than enough data is found to prove that Czerka has built a cyber-ship and that Captain Tarkin led the project. They also find a man who died with his finger on the button of a restraining bolt remote, still bleeping away the same signal over and over, with half a charge still in the battery, based on which they estimate the ship could have been destroyed no more than 9 days ago.
Also found is a holographic map of Mare Charybdis, in which several locations are marked. They decide to investigate each in turn. All turn out to have been attacked within the past few days. They find another demolished star destroyer, a burning planet, a debris ring where the map said there should be a moon, a cloud of destroyed star fighters, and the wreckage of yet another star destroyer scattered across the surface of a desolate moon.
At the advice of Varu, their Jedi advisor, they skip the next two points and head for the deepest of the marked planets. She can feel pain, confusion, rage, fear, and thoughs too alien for her to comprehend. As they arrive, they see a cloud of TIE fighters attacking the cyber-ship. As they watch, the cyber-ship destroys the planet which was marked on the holographic map.
According to Varu, there is nobody on board the cyber-ship. It is intelligent, scared and confused. It is lashing out on its own, at anyone it sees. It is a wounded, wild beast on a rampage, with the power to destroy worlds. It must be stopped at any cost.