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will occur in the context of our overall strategy. Not as an act of private vengeance." His glowing red eyes narrowed slightly. "Certainly not by any Fleet captain under my command. I trust I make myself clear."

Brandei's cheek twitched. Pellaeon had never thought of the man as brilliant, but he was smart enough to recognize a threat when he heard one. "Very clear, Admiral."

"Good." Thrawn eyed him a moment longer, then nodded. "I believe you've been given your launch mark?"

"Yes, sir. Judicator out."

Thrawn looked at Pellaeon. "Continue, Captain," he said, and turned away.

"Yes, sir." Pellaeon looked at his data pad. "Nemesis . . ."

He finished the list without further incident. By the time the last holo image disappeared, the final check-in from their own task force was complete.

"The timetable appears to be running smoothly," Thrawn said as Pellaeon returned to his command station. "The Stormhawk reports that the guide freighters launched on time with tow cables functioning properly. And we've just intercepted a general emergency call from the Ando system."

The Bellicose and its task force, right on schedule. "Any response, sir?" Pellaeon asked.

"The Rebel base at Ord Pardron acknowledged," Thrawn said. "It should be interesting to see how much help they send."

Pellaeon nodded. The Rebels had seen enough of Thrawn's tactics by now to expect Ando to be a feint, and to respond accordingly. But on the other hand, an attack force consisting of an Imperial Star Destroyer and eight Katana fleet Dreadnaughts was hardly something they could afford to dismiss out of hand, either.

Not that it really mattered. They would send a few ships to Ando to fight the Bellicose, and a few more to Filve to fight the Judicator, and a few more to Crondre to fight
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