Author: Karen Traviss
Cover Artist: Greg Knight
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: February 28, 2006
Era: Rise Of The Empire
Following the eruption of the bloody Clone Wars at the battle of Geonosis, both sides remain deadlocked in a stalemate that can be broken only by elite warrior teams like Omega Squad, clone commandos with terrifying combat skills and a lethal arsenal. . . .
For Omega Squad, deployed deep behind enemy lines, it’s the same old special ops grind: sabotage, espionage, ambush, and assassination. But when Omega Squad is rushed to Coruscant, the war’s most dangerous new hotspot, the commandos discover they’re not the only ones penetrating the heart of the enemy.
A surge in Separatist attacks has been traced to a network of Sep terror cells in the Republic’s capital, masterminded by a mole in Command Headquarters. To identify and destroy a Separatist spy and terror network in a city full of civilians will require special talents and skills. Not even the leadership of Jedi generals, along with the assistance of Delta squad and a certain notorious ARC trooper, can even the odds against the Republic Commandos. And while success may not bring victory in the Clone Wars, failure means certain defeat.
The main focus of this book deals with finding a Separatists terror cell that’s operating on the planet Coruscant. This cell has been successful in carrying out bombings throughout the city killing innocents and it’s up to Kal Skirata with Omega and Delta teams to find them and “neutralize” the threat. Oh, when Skirata mentions the word “neutralize,” it means shoot to kill, there will be no prisoners. I’ll get to this last sentence soon enough.
Now you’re probably asking yourself; “Why would the clones be involved in black ops on Coruscant, why can’t the CSF handle the investigation and capture / elimination of the threat?” Skirata makes the assumption that there is a mole in the ranks of CSF and the only ones available to do the “hunting” and be trusted are his clone commandos. He arranges a meeting with Jedi General Arligan Zey who is in charge of the Covert Ops department. During that meeting he and Zey, in what Ordo considers a very roundabout way, have a conversation about how this action will be “off the books” and “away from the eyes” of the Senate. When the meeting breaks up, Kal not only gets permission, off the books, to carry out this operation but also gets his boys some much-needed R and R on Coruscant, with pay!! I’m not just saying that it’s just his clones that get the benefit of this time off but the regular GAR soldiers as well. This move helps with Kal’s operation because his unit can now hide “in plain site” while doing this operation. You see with all these clone troopers walking around Coruscant, it makes the citizens at least feel safe and his operation won’t get noticed because there are clones in the streets, bars and so on.
Oh, I did leave something out that I thought would be good to insert here. After his meeting with General Zay, Skirata and Ordo take transit to get a bite to eat. While on the transport, Kal asked Ordo who is in full armor to remove his “bucket” (helmet). Ordo did what Kal’buir requested and ended up getting looks from the citizens on board. Lines like; “He’s so young” and “Oh no, their human” where said by the passengers. You see, Kal did this to put a human face on the war to show that it was not being fought by j machines on both sides. He wanted to show the citizens who lived on Coruscant away from the front lines, that there was actually someone inside that armor, not a robot. When all was said and done from this incident, Kal turned to Ordo and expressed he hated to do that request but it needed to be done. Ordo’s comeback was that Kal liked to shock people but Skirata looked at what he did as “educating” the public.
Now, I’ve established there’s a terrorist cell on Coruscant and Kal gets “approval” to run a black ops in the city using his clones. So, how is Kal going to establish his base of operations to carry out this mission, how is he going to infiltrate the cell once found, who is the CSF mole and, earlier I wrote something about “ there will be no prisoners” during this operation. Well, to answer the last part first, “no prisoners,” he happens to have access to three.
Omega squad went on a mission earlier in the book to intercept a freighter that is believed to have a part to solve this puzzle. While on the mission, Omega squad’s ship jumps the freighter in question and, with the help of the clone pilot Sicko (great name huh?), enters the ship by cutting a hole in the side. Sicko’s job now is to keep the boarding tube and the clone getaway ship attached while Omega does its job. While inside the hi-jacked freighter the team experiences an explosive decompression coming from somewhere behind them. Fi is sent to investigate and finds that there is now a big hole where they entered and Sicko with their ship is gone. This is what caused the rapid loss of atmosphere inside the captured freighter leaving the clones with only the air they have left inside their armor. They send out a distress call for any Republic ship in the area to come to their rescue – highest priority. Now, I know I have you all on the edge of your seat so I’m going to give you some advice from this point – read the book to see how this ends. I could really go on and on and this review / summery will get longer but the last thing I want to do is lose an audience. Do you really want me to ruin this book if you have not read it yet? And, if you have read it you know how this section ends. But I will give you two quick things; one, as you can probably guess, this is the part where Skirata gets the prisoners and two, the ship that comes to their rescue with just minutes, no seconds to spare before they are jumped by a Separatists ship is …….. awww, come on now, did you really think I was going to ruin this for you – read the book.
To continue with the “no prisoners” here in my review. As you can tell from this point, Omega Squad was able to get out of the jam and make it back Coruscant. Kal has the prisoners at a safe house for the time being letting Vau work them over for any information they may have concerning the cell or a drop point. After a briefing with the two clone squads back at their barracks with Etian and Jusik being part of the team, Kal pulls Etain aside and asks her if she would help out in the interrogation. Now this I thought was interesting so I pulled this from the book, Skirata asks her to “torture a man.” Now, I need to break here because the conversation that takes place between Skirata and Etain at this point really shows why Skirata is doing what he’s doing, in his own way he’s fighting for the clones because they have no stake in what’s going on. He sees them being thrown away for nothing. This also makes Etain start to think because the clones have no rights and no future once the war is over. She ends up agreeing to interrogate the man but only if she does it her way. This point of the book you start to see Etain question the path she is on and here’s another point pulled from the book, “she was now clearer about her own convictions than she had ever been in her life.” Etian reasons with herself that if she does this it will help save more lives then not doing it. I could keep going on about this and delve deeper into the interrogation but you’ve got to read the book to find out how Etain handled the process.
Now for the the safe house and base of operations. What better galactic scoundrel would you call upon for something like this but a Hutt. Skirata calls in an old favor from Qibbu the Hutt owner of an establishment that will suit his needs nicely. See, old Qibbu owns a bar / restaurant in a building that would be perfect for Kal to set up. He makes the deal with Qibbu that also included an understanding that regular clone troopers can come on in and enjoy Qibbu’s fine culinary art with out being cheated. Now, remember that line up above about hiding “in plain site?” This plays perfectly into what Skirata had in mind because with regular clone troopers coming and going from the bar, and as we all know all the clones look alike, it will cover the movement of Kal’s clones and they would be “hiding in plain sight.” Cool huh??
Okay, that’s two down with two to go, but, here is where I combine the last two. See, in a warehouse sector on Coruscant, Fi, Sev and Jusik happen to come across a big break while following up on the lead provided by an interrogated prisoner. While on the stakeout of this location two trucks back into a warehouse and “product” is exchanged between the two. Observed by Fi and Sev was a Falleen and a human female dressed in coveralls that could indicate a GAR clerk. When the transports lift off, the Felleen and human female left in different directions. This peaked the curiosity of Sev who was ready, willing and able to follow. Fi acting on instinct agrees so the hunt is now on. The female was easier to follow so Sev and Fi keep a discreet distance until she flags down a taxi. Seeing an opportunity, Jusik, who was tasked as a cad driver for this mission, swings down to pick her up. Oblivious that she was just kidnapped at this point, Jusik swings back around and picks up Sev and Fi in a quick getaway maneuver. Boy, you can guess who this is going to end and even the two clones make that same statement, Kal’s going to kill them.
Oh, I did forget to mention that after Jusik swung down to pick-up Sev and Fil, he also picked up a tail. A tail you question? Well, it seems that some how they where “tagged” and being followed by some unknown company. Now all they had to was lose this tail before they got back to the safe house with this new prisoner. Jusik pulls off some great flying through the city and does eventually lose the tail in a very messy way. Their only hope to this point was that the tail had nothing to do with CSF.
From this point in the book, Kal and his team pose as dealers to infiltrate and bring down the terror cell. This leaves Ordo placed inside CSF Logistics Center posing as clone trooper Corr, looking for the mole. I could continue with this review / summery but it’s getting very long and I don’t want to lose anyone from this point. As I’ve stressed in my other review, reading is good for you. But, I will take this direction; the book moves at a good clip throughout. Karen has a way with how she presents the clones as individuals even though we all know they look alike. She does this, in my opinion, with Etian who’s very observant noticing posture, vocal inflections and things like that. Yes I know it’s a fictional character but it’s nice to see that little bit of extra detail is there. It’s also cool to read that as you move through the book, you see the clones continue the move to individuality and free thinking. This is something we all miss from the movies because they revolved around Jedi and Sith. I think it would be cool if somewhere in the Clones Wars TV series we get see some of this individuality of the clones. Or at least have the opportunity to see them outside of the war, like in this book
Yes, this is the second book in the series and Karen did have this come out in the first book Hard Contact then moves them further forward in True Colors. But the nice thing here is you get to see the clones outside of the GAR and acting like soldiers on leave. Ordo starts to fall for Besany Wennen in this book (she’s introduced to the Expanded Universe here), Darman and Etain “get to together” in this book as well. When Kal notices something different going on between Dar and Etain, he “calls her out” about her intentions with Darman. When Etain bares her feeling to Kal about the event that took place, he goes so far as giving the relationship his “blessing” by asking her to “just make Darman happy.”
Lastly, and I will end this here so I don’t loose anymore of you, you get see how Kal Skirata met his “boys” on Kamino.
I hope you all enjoyed this brief summery / review or whatever you want to call. Any question, comments and the like are always welcomed – good or bad. Thank You reading this. :-) I can now get back to reading Rule of Two for the fun of it.
This is Tom Pniewski (aka Kal Skirata in the forums and blog) – signing off
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