" Pellaeon said stiffly.

C'baoth smiled. "You may believe that if you wish. But to businesstrue Imperial business. When the battle here is over, Captain Pellaeon, I want a message sent to Wayland."

"Announcing your imminent return, no doubt," Pellaeon said sourly. C'baoth had been insisting for nearly a month now that he would soon be going back to his former home on Wayland, where he would take command of the cloning facility in the Emperor's old storehouse inside Mount Tantiss. So far, he'd been too busy trying to subvert Thrawn's position to do anything more than talk about it.

"Do not worry, Captain Pellaeon," C'baoth said, all amused again. "When the time is right, I will indeed return to Wayland. Which is why you will contact Wayland after this battle is over and order them to create a clone for me. A very special clone."

Grand Admiral Thrawn will have to authorize that, were the words that came to mind. "What kind do you want?" were the ones that inexplicably came out. Pellaeon blinked, running the memory over in his mind again. Yes, that was what he'd said, all right.

C'baoth smiled again at his silent confusion. "I merely wish a servant," he said. "Someone who will be waiting there for me when I return. Formed from one of the Emperor's prize souvenirssample B-2332-54, I believe it was. You will, of course, impress upon the garrison commander there that this must be done in total secrecy."

I will do nothing of the sort. "Yes," Pellaeon heard himself say instead. The sound of the word shocked him; but certainly he didn't mean it. On the contrary, as soon as the battle was over he'd be reporting this little incident directly to Thrawn.

"You will also keep this conversation a private matter between ourselves," C'baoth said lazily. "Once you have

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