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the Chimaera from seeing the cruisers and at the same time blinding the cruisers' own sensors, the only way to know exactly where they were was for C'baoth to do a precise location check on the minds he was touching. "All four ships are beneath the shield," he said.

"Be absolutely certain, Jedi Master. If you're wrong—"

"I am not wrong, Grand Admiral Thrawn," C'baoth cut him off harshly. "I will do my part in this battle. Concern yourself with yours."

For a moment the intercom was silent. Pellaeon winced, visualizing the Grand Admiral's expression. "Very well, Jedi Master," Thrawn said calmly. "Prepare to do your part."

There was the double click of an opening comm channel. "This is the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera, calling the Overliege of Ukio," Thrawn said. "In the name of the Empire, I declare the Ukian system to be once again under the mandate of Imperial law and the protection of Imperial forces. You will lower your shields, recall all military units to their bases, and prepare for an orderly transfer of command."

There was no response. "I know you're receiving this message," Thrawn continued. "If you fail to respond, I will have to assume that you mean to resist the Empire's offer. In that event, I would have no choice but to open hostilities."

Again, silence. "They're sending another transmission," Pellaeon heard the comm officer say. "Sounds a little more panicked than the first one was."

"I'm certain their third will be even more so," Thrawn told him. "Prepare for firing sequence one. Master C'baoth?"

"The cruisers are ready, Grand Admiral Thrawn," C'baoth said. "As am I."

"Be sure that you are," Thrawn said, quietly threatening. "Unless the timing is absolutely perfect, this entire show will be worse than useless. Turbolaser battery
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