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We've called for a Star Cruiser to back us up, but it'll take awhile to get here."

"We'll just have to hold them until then," Leia said, standing up. She looked at Karrde. "Thank you," she said quietly.

"Not for you or your war," Karrde warned her. "Mara and my people could be arriving at any time. I'd just as soon they not be facing a Star Destroyer alone."

"They won't," Virgilio said. "Councilor?"

"It's a lost cause," Fey'lya said, trying one last time as he surrendered his blaster to one of the soldiers.

"That's all right," Virgilio said, smiling tightly. "The whole Rebellion was considered nothing more than a lost cause. Excuse me, Councilor: I have a battle to run."

The Chimaera was touring the region Pellaeon had privately dubbed the Depot when the report from the aJudicator came in. "Interesting," Thrawn commented. "They've responded faster than I'd expected."

"Karrde must have decided to be generous," Pellaeon said, skimming the follow-up report. Five drop ships and three TIE fighters destroyed; one of the Dreadnaughts apparently under Rebellion control and joining battle. It looked like a major scrap was shaping up out there. "I recommend we send another Star Destroyer to assist, Admiral," he said. "The Rebellion may have larger ships on the way."

"We'll go ourselves, Captain," Thrawn said. "Navigation: set us a course back to the Katana fleet."

The navigation officer didn't move. He sat at his station, his back to them, unnaturally stiff. "Navigation?" Thrawn repeated.

"Admiral, message coming through from the sentry line," the comm officer reported suddenly. "Unidentified Lancer-class Frigate has entered the system and is approaching. They insist on speaking with you, personally and immediately."

Thrawn's glowing eyes narrowed
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