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said flatly. "Let's not be heroic to the point of stupidity, okay? Get your people off the Katana and get out of here."

"We can't," Organa Solo said. "The Imperials have boarded. Our people are cut off from the docking bay."

Mara looked across at the dark bulk of the Dreadnaught, lit only by its own running lights and the flickers of reflected light from the battle raging near and around it. "Then you'd better write them off," she said. "The Imperials aren't likely to be far away-their backup will get here long before yours does."

And as if cued by her words, there was a flicker of pseudomotion off to her left; and abruptly three Dreadnaughts in triangular formation appeared. "Mara!" Aves snapped.

"I see them," Mara said as a second triad flickered in behind and above the first. "That's it, Karrde. Get out of there-"

"Attention, New Republic forces," a new voice boomed over the channel. "This is Senator Garm Bel Iblis aboard the warship Peregrine. May I offer our assistance?"

Leia stared at the comm speaker, a strange combination of surprise, hope, and disbelief flooding in on her. She glanced up at Karrde, caught his eye. He shrugged slightly, shook his head. "I'd heard he was dead," he murmured.

Leia swallowed. So had she : but it was Bel Iblis's voice, all right. Or else an excellent copy. "Garm, this is Leia Organa Solo," she said.

"Leia!" Bel Iblis said. "It's been a long time, hasn't it?

I didn't expect. you to be out here personally. Though perhaps I should have. Was all this your idea?"

Leia frowned out the viewport. "I don't understand what you mean by all this. What are you doing here, anyway?"

"Captain Solo sent my assistant the coordinates and asked us to come along as backup," Bel Iblis said, a note of caution creeping into his
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