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voice. "I assumed it was at your request."

Leia smiled tightly. She should have guessed. "Han's memory sort of slips sometimes," she said. "Though to be honest, we haven't had much time since we got back to compare notes."

"I see," Bel Iblis said slowly. "So it wasn't actually an official request from the New Republic?"

"It wasn't, but it is now," Leia assured him. "On behalf of the New Republic, I hereby ask for your assistance." She looked over at Virgilio. "Log that, please, Captain."

"Yes, Councilor," Virgilio acknowledged. "And speaking for myself, Senator Bel Iblis, I'm delighted to have you along."

"Thank you, Captain," Bel Iblis said, and in her mind's eye Leia could see the other's famous smile. "Let's do some damage, shall we? Peregrine out."

The six Dreadnaughts had moved into encirclement formation around the Star Destroyer now, smothering it with a flood of ion cannon fire and ignoring the increasingly sporadic turbolaser blasts raking them in return.

"Mara's right, though," Karrde said, stepping close to Leia. "As soon as we can get the tech team off that ship, we'd better get them and run."

Leia shook her head. "We can't just leave the Katana fleet to the Empire."

Karrde snorted. "I take it you haven't had a chance to count how many Dreadnaughts are left out there."

Leia frowned. "No. Why?"

"I did a scan," Karrde said grimly. "Earlier, when you were arguing with Fey'lya. Out of the original two hundred Katana ships : there are fifteen left."

Leia stared at him. "Fifteen?" she breathed.

Karrde nodded. "I'm afraid I underestimated the Grand Admiral, Councilor," he said, an edge of bitterness seeping in beneath the studied urbanity of his voice. "I knew that once he had the location of the fleet he would start moving the
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