"What's [Corellia] like, Daddy?" Jaina asked,... Han had hardly spoken about his homeworld, and had said even less about his life in the Corellian Sector... Now he would surely have to say something.
Ambush at Corellia, Chapter 8
Han and Leia, along with their children, pay a visit to Corellia, ostensibly for a vacation before a trade summit that will bring the formerly isolationist and rather xenophobic system back into galactic affairs; in the meantime Lando and Luke go on an amusing journey to find a wife for the Casanova ex-smuggler. However, New Republic Intelligence has been receiving disturbing reports that something nefarious is in the works in the formerly pro-Imperial system, and make Han their secret agent in ferreting out the truth. The summit, it turns out, is all merely a lure to gather prominent government officials all in one place so that the anti-alien Human League can instigate a hostage crisis, with the ultimatum that they must be be granted full power in the Corellian system (and all aliens deported), or else they will use their secret weapon to blow up stars until their demands are met...stars with increasing amounts of populated planets.With communications jamming and an interdiction field preventing hyperspace travel in or out so that the New Republic government and military can do nothing to help, Han and Leia must fight alone for their freedom and to bring down their enemies (who include Han's evilbeardedcousin Thrackan Sal-Solo as leader of the Human League)—with Han having to turn to a Selonian rebel and Leia depending on Mara Jade (there for the trade summit) for help. Their children, on the run in the Falcon and protected by Chewbacca and a Drallish tutor they'd hired before the terrorists struck, end up learning of mysterious Lost Technology which the Human League is desperately seeking and which may hold the key to both the "Starbuster" plot and how to put an end to the crisis. Meanwhile Luke and Lando, trying to find a way in to rescue their friends and loved ones, appeal to Gaeriel Captison and the Bakurans, who have ships with technology that can penetrate the interdiction field, while Tendra Risant, the lady Lando managed to get interested in his marriage proposal, struggles at subspace speeds to warn of the true villains behind everything.Written by Roger Macbride Allen.
Adult Fear: Aside from the whole terrorist plot itself, and how it threatens millions of lives in neighboring star systems, Leia and Han are separated from both each other and their children for most of the trilogy, with none of them knowing where the others are or if they are safe. This only gets worse when the children are eventually captured by Thrackan and used as hostage bargaining chips, their images broadcast throughout the system.
Army of Thieves and Whores: The Human League is comprised of open drunks and malcontents; none more open than their leader. And one of the brother-rebel groups are apparently worse, though that group is taken down when Anakin activates the Drall repulsor.
Back for the Dead: Gaeriel Captison of The Truce at Bakura plays a pivotal role in the story before dying in the final battle.
Beard of Evil: Thrackan. It's the chief distinguishing physical feature separating him from his cousin.
Bedsheet Ladder: Mara and Leia actually use this method to escape their imprisonment in Corona House. The process is alternately suspenseful and tense, and a comedy of errors. It also plays with the trope, since a) they don't have to worry about having enough bedsheet to reach the ground because they're only trying to get to the floor where Leia had her lightsaber hidden and from there to Mara's room where she had the slave circuit to her ship—but the sheet they do have does reach only barely to the window they're aiming for b) the windows were in fact welded shut (but one was done so shoddily and could be broken open with a knife) c) said window was just a screen, so once they got it open it could be torn noiselessly and not attract the guards d) the additional obstacles are added of the sheets banging against a lower window where guards were sleeping and a rainstorm sweeping in (which not only makes the climb itself dangerous but delays their being able to summon the ship, since the communications jamming limits them to line-of-sight signaling).
Bee People: The Selonians are an interesting example. They have the same social structure as ants or bees on Earth, but unlike most examples of such aliens are not insectoid, but mammalian, looking somewhat like humanoid otters.
Beware the Nice Ones: Dracmus' reaction to one of Thrackan's more heinous acts. She takes it out on her's and Han's then captor, effecting a Mook Face Turn for the Selonian race.
Bilingual Bonus: An in universe example. Thrackan stages a fight between Han and a Selonian for his entertainment: the Selonian takes advantage of it to reach out to Han, apparently bellowing to intimidate him while actually saying "Speak you this language of mine, Solo? None of these fools understands it." Of course he does. Thrackan, you idiot.
Bring News Back: Played straight with Agent Kalenda: she barely makes it out of the system before the interdiction field goes up, with a recording of the Big Bad's message, and nearly gets shot down by the Coruscant defense pickets.note She was piloting a hyperdrive-capable Ugly. Inverted with Tendra (Bring News [of the Enemy Fleet to the] Front).
The Cavalry Arrives Late: Once news reaches Coruscant of what is happening in the Corellian system, especially the interdiction field, Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar are extremely worried that any reinforcements they send will end up being this. Nevertheless, a fleet is gathered and sent while an envoy including Luke Skywalker is sent to Bakura, as his connection to Gaeriel Captison is hoped to be sufficient to persuade the Bakurans to use their interdiction-dampening technology to save the day. The Bakuran fleet does act as a Cavalry through most of the series—and when the interdiction field is eventually brought down so that the masterminds behind the plot can establish control, Ackbar and his fleet are waiting right there to be the Big Damn Heroes.
Children Are Innocent: Played with. The Solo children, particularly Anakin, are blind to a great deal of the intricacies and evils going on around them, but they are not stupid either, and as the books progress it becomes clear that all of them, especially the twins, do have a strong grasp of the danger and the implications of what the terrorists are doing...and thus they do everything they can, even with their limited ability to influence events, to try and help. And in the end they are in fact the ones to save the day.
Darker and Edgier: The first book is surprisingly light-hearted for the most part, with Lando and Luke's wife-seeking journey utterly Played for Laughs, the Solo family having a great deal of enjoyable and heartwarming time together (only making the reader care more when they are later torn apart and endangered, and underscoring what is at stake), with the Human League's plot and the various inequalities and sufferings of Corellia downplayed or percolating in the background. But once Thrackan and his conspirators make their move, the series becomes an incredibly taut, suspenseful, and deadly serious race to save millions of lives with equally large implications for the galaxy at large.
And the reader is never allowed to forget just how serious the matter is, as there are a number of Mauve Shirt characters killed off, A Day in the Limelight for minor characters, and an overview of the damage and destruction being wrought both within the Corellian system and in those being targeted for supernovas. (Example: after the attack on Corona House, during Leia's escape, it's made very clear just how many people died in the attack and are buried in the rubble, and she even finds the body of an NRI agent who had told her of the interdiction field only a few days earlier.)
It's one of the few EU series to deal with these implications, and to make use of plausible and frankly terrifying superweapons since they are based solely on the Lost Technology of Neglectful Precursors twisted to nefarious ends, rather than yet another newly-designed or discovered Imperial project.
A Day in the Limelight: The first book introduces Belindi Kalenda, NRI agent, and follows her story as she warns Han of the coming crisis, infiltrates Corellia to spy (and make contact with Han again), then works to make contact with the outer galaxy so that rescue forces can be summoned. She remains an important part of the team for the rest of the series, and goes on to appear in the New Jedi Order and Legacy of the Force series. And she's pretty likable, too.
Department of Redundancy Department: The Selonian language, when translated into Basic, contains a great deal of this as well as plain Captain Obvious statements. Examples from the coneship control panel labels: "Main Device for the Blowing of Air Meant for Breathing", "Cleansing of Air from Pollutants for Pleasant Breathing", "Power Input Here from the Powerful Initiators Which are in Another Compartment."
Do Not Adjust Your Set: Thrackan does this after he attacks the Trade Summit and takes credit for the weapon that's blowing up stars. Then he turns on the communications jamming so that nobody can respond. He does it again (after deactivating the jamming) to gloat about capturing Han and Leia's family.
Everyone Knows Blink Code: Han actually counts on this Trope being averted when he tries to communicate with a Republic agent due to it being less convenient than "modern" methods, such as comlinks.note Not that he doesn't trust the bodyguards at this point, he just wants to have a "hole card" that nobody would know about. Of course, Han's blink skills being a bit rusty kind of makes his desire for the Trope's aversion a bit unnecessary.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Conflict at Place in the Corellian System.titles contain potential spoilers Ambush at Corellia, Assault at Selonia, & Showdown at Centerpoint
Insufferable Genius: Q9, a more modern version of the R2 series of astromechs, is very much this—and thanks to having installed a vocoder in himself, he can show it off in Basic rather than the usual beeps and whistles.
Just a Kid: Admiral Ossilege has this dismissive attitude toward the Solo children, and is set straight in an absolutely awesome Reason You Suck Speech from Kalenda:
Kalenda: Sir, it is my job to analyze events and come to conclusions. I have analyzed the events surrounding the children, and I have come to the conclusion that their abilities are—are remarkable. They have constantly been underestimated, their achievements constantly dismissed as exaggerated, or lucky accidents, or remarkable coincidences. That is simply not true. It is not credible. The plain fact of the matter is that you have a repulsor down there because a seven-and-a-half-year-old boy found it for you, and turned it on. It is no longer in the hands of our enemy—and our enemy is in the brig—because that boy and his siblings managed to walk through a working force field, repair a disabled starship, fly that ship into space, and shoot down a pursuing spacecraft flown by a professional military pilot. I could go on for half an hour, describing all the things that they could not possibly have done, but the point will remain the same.
Lost Technology: The story ultimately revolves around an ancient chamber-sized device located on each of the planets of the Corellian System and their relationship with the space station that was there since all of eternity.
The Man Behind the Man: Turns out to be the case for the masterminds of the terrorist plot—Thrackan Sal-Solo was merely a front man, his Human League one of many groups agitating for rights and independence (all the Five Brothers had such groups, those on Selonia and Drall similarly demanding autonomy for their species) to distract the New Republic while the repulsors were dug up so that any means of stopping the Starbuster was denied the New Republic, thus letting the masterminds dictate terms. The true masterminds? The Sacorrian Triad. Their mistake, however, was in trusting Thrackan to be as easily manipulated and docile as the other agitators.
Marth Debuted in Smash Bros.: A lot of readers of the X-Wing Series don't realize that "uglies" (fighters mashed up from parts of different fighters) first appeared in these books, although they are set chronologically later.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Once Thrackan captures the children, he chooses to turn off the communications jamming (even though he knows this will allow the masterminds being the plot to lower the interdiction field and enter the system) so that he can broadcast images of themto coerce Han and Leiainto complying with his demands. The results? Bringing down the communications blackout allows Ossilege to get in touch with Ackbar to set up a Big Damn Heroes fleet; seeing Thrackan threaten his own flesh and bloodturns the Corellian system against him; Han is galvanized by the broadcast to deliver a Reason You Suck Speech to the Selonian Overden on behalf of Dracmus, eventually resulting in the latter standing up to the former and instituting a Heel-Face Turn for all of Selonia (and this in turn provides the instruction manual for the repulsor that helps save the day from the Starbuster); and knowing the children are in danger and will either be held prisoner indefinitely or killed depending on Leia's answer, Ebrihim and his Aunt Marcha urge an escape...one that ends with the children shooting Thrackan down in the Falcon, his capture, and the capture of the Drall repulsor. All of this is lampshaded by the chapter names where the events are set in motion: "Casting the Stone" and "The Ripples Spread".
Not Now 3PO: Luke insisted that the Droids accompany him on Lando's bride quest. Lando doesn't get along with 3PO (usually) and so locks him and R2 aboard the Lady Luck at their first port of call. Lando's caller there just happened to be a Life Witch, a sort of Vampire. A well-meaning lass, but still a Vampire. It nearly proved legally and lethally binding. At his next port of call, Lando had a comlink with 3PO on speed dial.
Oh Crap: Han (and everyone else) pretty much has this reaction when Selonia's planetary repulsor is first brought online at the end of the second book. An even stronger example is when Lando, Luke, and the Bakuran boarding party visiting Centerpoint Station discover that it is the Starbuster. And they're standing right inside the chamber where the nova-inducing energy gathers...and it's building up right then to fire. Also, the revelation of the Starbuster plot itself, when made in the first book, prompts this reaction from everyone present...especially the Solo children, who are eavesdropping from the balcony above.
Paranoia Fuel: In-universe, Lando finds himself suffering from this regarding his future wife prospects after the encounter on Leria Kerlsil and the already married woman from Azbrian. "What's next? A potential bride who has been dead five years? One that's male? A Wookiee?...Sacorria it is. Assuming [Tendra] doesn't turn out to have six kids, three husbands, and a beard down to here." When Luke suggests this is unlikely, he replies, "In this universe, absurdity tends to a maximum. Especially when I'm around."
And it comes up again when, after the full truth about the Starbuster plot and its masterminds comes out, Kalenda starts quizzing him for his thoughts on Ossilege's Source A.
This also comes up after Mara is imprisoned with Leia and both of them, even after escaping together, are unsure if they can trust each other. Mara points out how silly it is for Leia to believe her part of the terrorist plot by spinning a plausible but unlikely scenario where Leia was the one in on it with their captors, to which Leia in turn suggests they could both be in on it, but not aware of it because the plot is compartmentalized with a Right Hand Versus Left Hand policy. "You know as well as I do that once you start playing the game of wheels within wheels and hidden plots, it's very hard to stop."
Promoted To Parent: The twins with regards to Anakin, starting right when the Human League make their attack during the Trade Summit. While Anakin is trying, in the twins' words, to "be sneaky" (to get at the Lost Technology), they wonder if they were any better at it. Good thing that the situation is temporary.
Race Against the Clock: One of the more nail-biting examples in the EU: the Starbuster Centerpoint Station is set to shoot a list of stars and set off supernovas, regular as clockwork, in a pattern hard-wired in and unable to be shut down or reprogrammed without the assistance of the masterminds of the plot. This terrorist threat is hanging over the heroes all throughout the series, but by the last book it has become absolutely critical to stop since the next star on the list is one with the largest populated worlds yet, and they only get more populous after that. (The final star in the list is Corell itself. Presumably the masterminds would shut the weapon down before it got to that point, since this would obliterate all the worlds they wanted to claim, and their own world too, but the threat is still there.) The final battle in the book is not only an attempt to take out the invading fleet and bring down the masterminds before they can regain control of the superweapon, but an attempt to bring online one of the planetary repulsors and fire it in an interference ray to detune the nova-inducing ray into a harmless burst of light. Finally, Anakin Solo is able to do so from Drall, at the very last second.
Ramming Always Works: In Showdown at Centerpoint, three Bakuran ships are fighting a mass of smaller enemy craft. Admiral Ossilege notices too late that some of the frigates have windows just painted on: they turn out to be 'robot ramships', simple chunks of solid metal in the shape of ships, disguised so that they can get close to a ship before ramming it.
Red Herring: The protagonists' distrust of Mara. The reader knows from the start that Mara is on the level (the book even tells us!) but Leia and Han both make a big deal about how they don't trust her. One assumes that this would affect their actions. It doesn't in any way - the two keep mentioning their distrust throughout the series even as they work with Mara, but are forced to trust her completely due to the circumstances. Mind you, this "Chekhov's Gun" makes absolutely no sense. Even if this is justified to an extent by the fact that this book came out after the Thrawn Trilogy and before the countless other stories involving Mara (which take place chronologically before this book), it's pretty ridiculous that after the events of the Thrawn Trilogy (in which Mara saved their lives several times and was instrumental to the defeat of both of that trilogy's Big Bads, and in which they trusted her enough to break her out of a New Republic prison despite fake evidence designed to sow mistrust toward Mara) that Han and Leia would distrust Mara at this point. So you end up with a plot-line that is ridiculous to the readers...that doesn't lead anywhere.
Spanner in the Works: Just about everybody, on all sides, barring his elder twin siblings, underestimates Anakin Solo at one point or another. He's the one who finds the repulsor on Corellia, activates the one on Drall, and breaks out of Thrackan's trap causing the latter's downfall. Oh, and he later uses the Drall repulsor to save the day.
The Starscream: Thrackan. Like all the other speciesist leaders, he was intended by his controllers to merely throw the system into chaos and anarchy while they took over, and allow their technicians to find the planetary repulsors. However he instead was able to gain control of the interdiction field and communications jamming, thus locking them out of the system as well as the New Republic, and attempted to gain control of a repulsor himself so he could blackmail his superiors into giving him power and control of the sector; which he felt was his anyway due to being the next-in-line to the Imperial Governor at the time of the Battle of Endor. In fact, the Communications Jamming was all his idea. The Men Behind the Man merely wanted the Chief Of State pinned down to discuss terms, which you can't do when communications are jammed. Only his desire to gloat (and make more demands of Leia) was his undoing—that and him underestimating children, droids, and aliens.
Subspace Ansible: Faster-than-light communications are so ubiquitous as to make this an Invoked Trope: people are known to use lightspeed communications over in-system ranges for security reasons (nobody has the technology to intercept them anymore).
But [Thrackan] had paid a price even trying to use [Leia's] kidnapped children against her. ... His attempt at blackmail had no doubt ... turned millions against him ... It must have gained sympathy for Leia - and the New Republic.
Even his own assault commander was repulsed when, after the children escaped, Thrackan wanted fire control so that the commander could focus on pursuing them.
"Do your own dirty work, then, and welcome to it," he said, and switched over gunnery control. "But I never thought I'd met a man who thought it a special point of pride to shoot down his own flesh and blood."
True Companions: Han invokes this Trope to explain why a Selonian Collaborator making Dracmus pull a Face Mook Turn are Not So Different from what Thrackan did to him and Leia for that, see This Is Unforgivable above.
[Dracmus] is of your blood, and you hold her spirit hostage by holding us, by forcing her to collaborate with you in goading us, harassing us. She has saved my life, and I hers. She has risked her life for mine, and I have risked mine for hers. She has vouched for me with her folk. She has granted me her protection. We have lived and fought together. No, it is not blood - but it is family. We have claims on each other, of duty and respect. We were allies against you and your Overden. Now you force her to spit on her allies, against her will, for your own amusement.
Wham Moment: The Cliff Hanger ending of the first book is very much one of these, particularly since it is close to the Darkest Hour for the series. The insurrection has been set off all across the Corellian system, with terrorist attacks in every capital city (with Han, Leia, and their family being front and center for the one on Corellia). The demands have been made by the rebel leader, revealed to be Han's own cousin. Han himself has been captured by the Human League after helping Kalenda escape to get a warning to the New Republic. Leia is being held captive in Corona House. The children are on the run in the Falcon with only Chewbacca, Ebrihim, and Q9 to help. An interdiction field and jamming have been erected to keep help from coming in and any messages from getting out. Luke and Lando are the only ones who can rush to fetch help. And Han and Leia, as well as the kids, know about the Starbuster plot that will wipe out millions of people if the demands are not met. The end result is that Leia has an in-story example of this, after she is told of the interdiction field, that "we're not going to get any help."
Her family was lost to her, lost to the depths of space. The Corellian System, in a single day, had somehow found a way to backslide into the worst sort of irrational species hatred, the sort of thing that should have been left in the slime a thousand generations before. Neighbor was turned against neighbor in a three-way fight that could only grow more vicious as the wounds cut deeper. And the Corellian Sector had seceded from the New Republic in a way that could only tempt others to do the same.
How were a bunch of thugs like the Human League capable of stealing the most secret New Republic data? How were they able to blow up stars on command? Were they truly capable of exterminating an entire living star system if they did not get their way? And who was producing this massive new interdiction field?
And they were all counting on her. If she made only the slightest effort, used the least of ability in the Force, she could quite literally feel their need, there in the Governor-General's office. They needed her, had faith in her, believed that she would find the way out of this for all of them.
And she did not have the least idea what to do next.