SW Summer Reads – Secret Missions #1: Breakout Squad

As the summer heat continues to blaze like a Mustafar heat wave (OK, maybe that’s somewhat of an exaggeration…), it’s always nice to cool off with a good Star Wars book… whether you’re inside with the AC or outside in the shade with a Coke. So hence why I’ve been writing these posts about the first books in my favorite-est SW series. This post will be nice since the book I’m blogging about is recent enough you might’ve actually read it.
The book is the first of Ryder Windham’s TCW Secret Missions series, Breakout Squad. It came out in ’09, back in the heyday of TCW and there’s been a new book in the series every year since (which, as you can imagine, can be a bit taxing on one’s patience… but you know what they say about not rushing art). So remember how I told you guys I prefer SW stories with characters I’m familiar with? Well… ironically, this series’ main characters aren’t even in the TCW show; they’re exclusive to this series. But really and truly, it’s no different to me than watching an episode of TCW that focuses on a lesser-known Jedi, like Lair Of Grievous. I mean, I’m a huge SW fan and I feel like I know just about everything about Kit Fisto (which is entirely far from the truth), but there was a time when he was just a guy in the background. Watching Lair of Grievous gave me a chance to get to know him better, and now I consider him an familiar face in the SW Universe. So this was kinda my chance to get to know some very new characters. And in the end, this is a great series so far, and its first chapter is definitely worth the read. So go crack it open if you haven’t already and join me in reading Breakout Squad!
NOTE: Contains spoilers from Breakout Squad and the TCW episodes Destroy Malevolence and Hostage Crisis

So if you haven’t already figured it out, this series takes place in the Clone Wars era. In fact, it’s early enough in that era that it was like, two weeks ago when the Malevolence ran into a certain moon (assuming of course that the Season 1 episode Destroy Malevolence actually happened in that timeframe… believe it or not, the events that unfold in TCW are somewhat out of order! *Twilight makes note to get the TCW complete episode guide*). It’s absolutely too cool to see this story happening so close to the episode itself – which was one of the very first I remember watching and enjoying! Oh, wait I’m getting ahead of myself — what does this timeline have to do with our story exactly? Well, the story opens up with actually some familiar faces at the wreckage of the Malevolence. Okay, I know the only reason they’re familiar faces is because they’re clones and… yeah, they kinda all look and sound alike. But these books give us a chance to meet these particular clones, which starts off as three Shinies all who could use a name. The threesome find some interesting things in the wreckage that in turn help them achieve a name. The clone who spots something the others wouldn’t so easily notice is bestowed the name Sharp. And the clone who knows a thing or two about technology that comes in handy is dubbed Breaker. The third one… well, his name was given later, but it makes perfect sense; the super quiet, Ferb-of-PhineasandFerb-sort clone got named Chatterbox πŸ™‚ I love that Breaker doesn’t comprehend irony or satire very well… he’s all “Isn’t that name sorta contradictory?”
So long story short, Sharp and Breaker pick up on the fact that the Malevolence may have been made of parts made by the assumed neutral planet Kynachi. So that’s why the Chancellor figures it’s worth sending out an… um… expert on the planet to the mission. And that’s what leads us to meeting one of the main characters, an unfamiliar face named Ring-Sol Ambase: Jedi Master. Ring-Sol was born on Kynachi, but he doesn’t look it… Kynachi people usually have gold hair from the food they eat, but Master Ambase has the total opposite hair color — silver. He wasn’t quite sure that this was his mission just because it was his birthplace, which btw he has no memory of or any other connection to. So you can kinda figure that Palpatine’s up to something. Nevertheless, Ring-Sol is insanely cool. He has a pretty calm demeanor, he’s extremely wise, a very good teacher, strong, and has a good heart. And yes, you heard me right he’s a teacher. A master to be precise, and that leads us to our next main character, his Padawan Nuru Kungurama.
Nuru’s pretty young still, about Ahsoka’s age at this point, perhaps? IDK really. And if you thought his name was exotic (and totally cool and hard to pronounce), he’s a Chiss, a blue-skinned, red-eyed humanoid (which are totally cool, though I can’t figure whether it’s pronounced with a soild “c” or a “ch” sound) that aren’t seen too much around the galaxy. He’s been through a lot, including the loss of his previous master at the infamous Geonosis battle, but he’s doing his very best to stay strong and seems to have a good relationship with his new master, Ring-Sol. And apparently, it’s strong enough a relationship that, when Nuru senses his Master won’t come back from this Kynachi mission, Nuru decides to follow him aboard… (hey, you can do a lot when you use mind tricks on clone passengers and hide in a closet)
This remind you of a lot of situations in the SW Galaxy? OK, maybe not a lot, and maybe most of them are in The Clone Wars. But still, Nuru and Ahsoka could have a lot to talk about, and I’m sure they’re not the only younglings who’ve wanted to lend a hand… even when their hand wasn’t necessarily wanted. How will this go? Well, we’ll have to read all the stories before we know how it all works out in the end, but until then, we read on.
Aaaaaanddd then something bad happens. Kynachi had itself a Separatist blockade… and Ambase and his clones ran dead into it (Well, they were trying to go to Kynachi, so you can’t really blame them, and they still assumed they were, you know, a neutral planet and all). Which resulted in a couple of escape pods separating the clones and the Jedi as they plummeted to other sides of the planet. Nuru and Ambase didn’t see each other face-to-face exactly, but Ambase sensed him and suddenly figured out why he had this nagging feeling Nuru was nearby the whole trip. And that was the last the two heard of each other as the adventure on Kynachi began.
Somehow Nuru and his clone team, made out of Breaker, Chatterbox, and Knuckles (named so for his epic strength; unless you’re stronger, I don’t recommend arm wrestling him) got out pretty smoothly. Of course, then there were some droids to deal with. Not too fun. But this makeshift team is determined to reunite with Ring-Sol and the rest of the clones. Now, how to do such in this small Kynachi village without raising alarm is the challenge…
Meanwhile, the landing wasn’t so smooth for those in Ambase’s pod, especially since Ambase got knocked unconscious. But his loyal clone team, led by Sharp, will do what they can to keep the general out of harm’s way (even when nearly attacked by a horde of huge crustacean-like creatures; also not fun).
Back to Nuru’s side of the story, the clones prove how awesome they are at improvising. Or maybe not, depending on how you view this. I mean, their clever disguise certainly hides the clone armor and Nuru’s Jedi getup, but… they were made out of fertilizer bags. I don’t know nor do I want to know what the fertilizer is made of, but it stinks to high heaven. Yes, the smell keeps away the riffraff, but… yeah… we’re all on the same page I think. It does make for some good dialogue; let’s just be glad we can’t smell it ourselves πŸ˜› Of course, it always helps to use Jedi mind tricks in serious situations. And that said mind trick gets the attention of a certain someone who just might be able to lend a hand…
That someone is Lalo Gunn: Corellian-pilot-turned-restaurant-owner with quick wit and a sharp bite. She’s been stuck on this planet since before the war and has hopes that helping this ragtag, less-than-pleasant-smelling Republic team might be able to help her as well. Anyone else love how much like Han Solo she is? Same for Leia? Yeah she’s totally cool πŸ™‚ But then all of a sudden… there’s battle droids and Lalo’s trusty copilot-turned-waiter droid gets fried. And then comes along another familiar face — Cad Bane. Ohh yes… but it’s not what you think; this gang doesn’t know him or how nefarious and sly he is. This is some time before he wreaked havoc in the Senate Building, but he’s still taking orders from Sidious. However, as I said before, Nuru, Lalo, and the clones have no idea that he wasn’t just an innocent passerby caught up in the droid’s fire. Bane apparently was here for a job, has the key out of the blockade, and he just might know where to find a certain Jedi General and his clones. And everyone’s like “Sure! We’ll help you if you help us!” It would’ve been great if it had gone that way, right? But it sure seemed like a good idea at the time. So off went Bane and the gang, along with Lalo’s copilot droid, who’s been refurbished into a loyal commando droid they call Cleaver, off to free Ambase and his team from the Kynachi jail! Just call them “The Breakout Squad” (see that’s where the title comes from!)!
So, as not to give away all the details (and because I don’t remember all of them and I no longer have the book checked out to reference back to it *Twilight makes note to just buy this series already*) of the breakout, I’ll make note of the most noteworthy deets.
A) They sneak in by having Cleaver convince the guarding droids there was a communication problem going around (“I haven’t heard of any communication problem.” “Well, the problem’s why you haven’t heard of it, duh!”). Anyone else wonder why it is that the Separatists used them so much when they’re not so bright and cut like butter? Well, for the sake of our heroes, I’m not complaining.
B) The did the best reusing of a classic SW line – “Lock the door and hope they don’t have blasters”! I totally geeked out at that XD
C) Breaker had an awesome secret weapon.
D) Nuru confronted the Separatist leader who had taken control of Kynachi. Didn’t get him, though.
E) Breaker nearly died. (Spoiler alert: he didn’t!)
F) Sharp and the rest of the clones are freed, along with everyone else imprisoned, but alas! Where’s Master Ambase??
And finally, G) Kynachi is liberated!! Yayyay!!
So Lalo gets Nuru, Cleaver, and the clones aboard her ship, the Hasty Harpy, and off they go to the next chapter. They have zilch idea as to where Cad Bane went though… and still have no idea where Ring-Sol is. That little detail? Bane has him, still unconscious and alive and ready to be shipped to wherever Darth Sidious wants him to. Hence why immediately after reading this, we all freak out “OMG WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!?!” and rush to the library to get the next book. However, my closer look at The Curse Of The Black Hole Pirates will come later on. I’ve read the first three books, but I still haven’t read the fourth one and I’m getting kinda antsy, especially since it’s been over a year. But truth, Breakout Squad is a great opener to this exciting and awesome series. Easily one of my faves, Mr. Windham did excellente! πŸ™‚
Sorry if this blog seems a bit rushed, but stay tuned — the finale for this year’s SW Summer Reads is coming up next!
Keep The Peace,
– Twilight

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