SW Summer Reads – Secret Missions #2: Curse Of The Black Hole Pirates

It’s June at last! And you know what that means… it’s time for Padawanline’s Star Wars Summer Reads posts! Yay!
Basically, these are the posts where I do running commentaries on my favorite SW books, sprinkling in some of my unique insight and thoughts and humor along the way. Last year, I did these on the first books of my three favorite series, and I’m super-excited to be getting back to them again!
Now, don’t worry — I’ll still be doing my Lost Missions blogs most weeks, on account of how much fun they are to do, how much you guys seem to enjoy them, and the fact that my library is sorely lacking in the next chapters of the series I’ve already read and the first books of the series I want to read. But anyway, today we’re looking back on the great Ryder Windham’s The Clone Wars Secret Missions series and getting back to following the adventures of The Breakout Squad. I’ve already written a closer look on the first book (check it out here), but if you’re ready and have read the book, then let’s get started! And with a title like Curse Of The Black Hole Pirates, it has to be good… 🙂
NOTE: Contains spoilers from Episode IV, Episode V, Episode VI, Breakout Squad, Curse Of The Black Hole Pirates, The Clone Wars Season 4, and Hostage Crisis

TCW Secret Missions #2 Cover Art

Our story opens with one of my fave bounty hunters, the one and only Cad Bane, on his way to make a special delivery for his Sith buddies, just chillin’ watching a bounty hunting holovid that’s more humorous than helpful. The wonderful irony is that it’s already a PIRATED holovid. Really. Evidently it was too much of a hassle to just buy a legal version of this trainwreck! And with the money they pay these bounty hunters you think that’d be no big deal. But there was some exclusive bonus material on this version, so I guess that justifies it… kinda… not really. NO KIDS, I’M NOT SAYING THAT PIRATING MOVIES IS OK! IT’S NOT! STAY IN SCHOOL! BRUSH YOUR TEETH! Sorry just wanted to clarify that for anyone who might’ve misunderstand that. OK this isn’t even the point; the point is, Bane was doing something humorously mundane whilst he made the trip to Bogg 5 to drop his cargo off. And that cargo would be Master Ambase, who he’d just yesterday nabbed while pretending to help out the Breakout Squad. And when making his drop-off, who’d be there to pick it up but Asajj Ventress herself! Their meet is pretty brief, but it’s pretty cool seeing them in the same room for ten seconds, even if Ventress is totally unimpressed by the blue dude. Hmm… one must wonder what crazy would happen if they had to work together or something! Especially since she eventually takes up the bounty hunting career herself. Wait… I can’t remember, maybe they did hang out once in TCW… oh curse my metal body I have the worst memory some days! Anyway, from there on out, Ventress has to make the next stage of the delivery with both of her “passengers”. And yes, that’s “passengers” plural; there seems to be… a clone frozen and unconscious in the back seat as well… oh mai this gets more and more intriguing! Her final stop is on a rainy nearby moon to Count Dooku himself (who literally has a little SW-y umbrella-ish doohickey to keep him dry; wow somebody’s a little high-maintenance!). He grabs his two “guests” and then sends his assassin off to go and fake a ship crash. She’s like “Whut? Oh Whateverrr…” and she’s gone. And we can now only wonder what this dark dude’s doing with this awesome Jedi and this seemingly random trooper…
On the good guys’ side of things, the Breakout Squad is off on a special mission from the Chancellor to Nuru’s homeworld in Chiss Space. Funny how Palpatine seems to enjoy sending the “qualified” Jedi lately… like when he sent Ring-Sol Ambase (Nuru’s master) to his homeworld Kynachi last time around… and how he took a bit of a crash landing right afterward. Something’s rotten in the state of Coruscant as of late. But anyway, Nuru Kungurama feels less than qualified for this; he’s a Chiss, yeah, he’s got the blue skin/red eyes thing going on and all, but he’s never seen another Chiss in his life and even with a little extra schooling he doesn’t really get the language or the culture or anything of that sort. And on top of that, Nuru’s been through a lot these last few days, becoming the young leader of the Breakout Squad, liberating a Separatist-controlled planet, still on the search for his lost master, and now here he is, on a diplomatic mission with his clone compadres, refurbished commando droid Cleaver, and could-easily-be-Han-Solo’s-sister-if-the-time-period-was-the-same pilot Lalo Gunn. The gang’s been hanging out onboard the Hasty Harpy for a while now (it’s a long drive to Csilla) and the clones, if no one else, are getting a bit of cabin fever. But not long after a noisy workout session amongst the clones, Lalo no-questions-asked puts the quiet one, Chatterbox, on copilot duty, so much so that she may’ve grabbed the wrong clone in the process. Then she came back and traded Sharp for Chatterbox. And so it seems to the others that the Captain might like Chatterbox for more than the fact he doesn’t talk much, even if she’s doing a good job of hiding it. Hehehe their thing is pretty darn cute 🙂 Anywhuh, it continued to be a long drive as the clones arm-wrestled, Nuru had a show of Jedi skill with Breaker, and Cleaver attempted to meditate. Yup, just another day aboard the Harpy. And before they know it, they’ve entered Chiss Space, but… there’s no Csilla. They literally have an Episode IV moment and Nuru’s all “What do you mean ‘no Csilla’?”, Lalo’s all “THAT’S WHAT I’M TELLING YOU KID, IT AIN’T THERE!” and then they see this huge conical space station and Chatterbox is all “I have a bad feeling about this…” XD The space station isn’t a weapon, thankfully, it’s the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force Station Ifpe’a (you’ll find that these guys really like long names). But though they’re not bad guys, they clearly have some trust issues and insist on tractor-beaming the Harpy over. And the not-so-warm welcome gets colder from there…
After docking, the first Chiss to come face-to-face with Nuru is, interestingly enough, the Aristocra he was supposed to meet up with to begin with. She goes by Sev’eere’nuruodo, Veeren for short, she’s about Nuru’s age, and it takes him about two seconds to realize that she’s kinda pretty. And after a few minutes of awkward attempts at conversation on his part, he figures out that the young Aristocra is no fan of pleasantries or hospitality. So yeah the awkwardness in the room is so thick you could cut it with a lightsaber. He’s trying pretty hard to be the cool, confident Jedi, but Veeren doesn’t get him worth beans and clearly doesn’t care either. And in their short meeting, she basically says “Dude we’re cool out here by ourselves and could care less about joining the Republic so you can just leave now” to which Nuru is silently all “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”. A second later a bunch of Sep ships decided to join the party and Veeren’s all “So… friends of yours, I presume?” and we as readers are all “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” And then things start blowing up and the Breakout Squad goes to great measures to protect and save the Aristocra despite her major attitude problem. Yeah I think Breaker nearly died shielding her from an explosion or something? NBD. So let’s just say everybody made a dash onboard the Harpy pretty quickly, all while carrying the knocked-out Chiss girl. And in the midst of the insanity of flying into a bazillion Separatist warships, the best thing Lalo and Chatterbox could do was hit the reverse and hit the long hyperspace trail they’d come on. And they made it out, just barely! But who cares if they saved her (blue) skin? Veeren ain’t having it, being stuck with these losers! Nuru tries to smooth things out and explain the truly serious situation at hand, but the high and mighty Aristocra refuses to be cool with it. As far as she’s concerned, if she doesn’t get back to Chiss Space asap there’s going to be a whole ‘nother war on their hands — between the Republic and the Chiss. And Nuru’s like “THAT WAS THE SEPARATISTS, NOT US!!” and she’s like “Don’t care. I’m the Aristocra.” To which I’m sure Nuru probably mentally facepalmed himself. Pshh. Haters gonna hate, I guess. Veeren is quite an enigma of a character; have to wonder whether she’s naturally this uptight and snobby or if they just caught her on a bad day. Perhaps she’d had a bad hair day today and the last thing she wanted to deal with was some offworlder who wanted her to join the Republic and who knew zip about Chiss customs. Though it still doesn’t excuse the fact she’s talking trash to the people who’d saved her life. Young Kungurama just gives up and leaves the room at this point. She might not be bad-looking for the first other Chiss he’s met, but it doesn’t make up for her stubbornness and ‘tude. At this point, you’re probably thinking “what else could go wrong?!”, and well… something does. A short time later, our heroes’ hyperspace ride is suddenly halted and the Harpy drops out in the middle of nowhere. And by the way, it might’ve been because of a killer black hole nearby. And on top of that, the Harpy has some neighbors here — a whole slew of pirates… and these pirates don’t come off as too friendly either. Yup, a lot else can go wrong. Thankfully, Captain Gunn’s got it all under control… mostly. First sending the pirates a false lead about a reactor leak aboard her ship to slow them down, and then she throws together quickly what she hopes will be the perfect plan with her comrades. And all this right before newbie pirates Bossk and Robinino walk in. You remember Robinino, right? The quirky-voiced, one-eyed patrolian bounty hunter from Hostage Crisis? And duh of course you remember Bossk. Have to wonder how exactly it is that these two managed to get caught out here, savvy bounty hunters that they are. Or not so savvy, perhaps. Gunn plays it cool with the baddies and not a thing appears out of order. The Chiss kids in the backseat? Dignitaries’ kids getting a ride (amazing how well a pair of coveralls can change your appearance!). The clones? Defuncts going to rehab (defunct because they take literally any orders from literally anyone). The so-called reactor leak? Gunn fixed it amazingly fast. Their weaponry? Hidden with Cleaver in the engine room. Nothing worth messing with here! Bossk can kinda pick up there’s something wrong here, but his level of brainpower doesn’t let him think deeply enough to figure it out entirely, and Lalo knows a few “mind tricks” of her own. But still, the Harpy crew’s a bit on edge all the same, and rightfully so considering there’s a trandoshan with a blaster and a trigger-hair temper in the cabin. Ultimately, Lalo gets a little help from her “friend”, a swokes swokes buccaneer who she manages to set at odds with Bossk, otherwise known as a good punch to the face. So with an understanding between said buccaneer, Mokshok, and Lalo, they all get better aquainted in a less-turbulent manner. Then enter Captain Mcgrrrr, who seems to demand Geoffrey Rush’s voice and is pretty much likable from the get-go, despite we don’t know yet if we can fully trust him. And yeah, anyone wonder how it is his last name has no vowels in it? Weird. Anywayyy not the point. So aboard Mcgrrrr’s ship, the Random Mallet, he furtherly explains their predicament: they’re more-or-less cursed by the black hole. It basically has them completely and utterly stuck in this middle-of-nowhere chunk of the galaxy because the black hole has an effect on both their navigational systems and their hyperspace abilities. But they’ve gotten along pretty nicely considering how long they’ve been stuck here. Pretty much everyone who’s run into their little patch of space has joined their merry gang and the only ones who didn’t are hanging out on a nearby planet, going about their non-piratey business and giving the crew a little help when they need it. But dude they’ve been out here so long they have no idea that the Clone Wars are even happening. The only thing they know about clones at the moment are the so-called defuncts that the pirates are enjoying taking advantage of (who knew they were such good dancers, right??). But all of that would change the minute things got crazy (read: Bossk got involved and wanted to take advantage of the defuncts’ dangerous potential) and Nuru was forced to reveal his Jedi-ness. Turns out that a Jedi is quite possibly the key to getting out of the black hole’s curse! The not-pirates, a Sullustan archaeologist couple, had found what is basically a Force-activated Stargate in their new homeworld’s ancient pyramids, so naturally, they really really needed a Jedi to pull it off and just maybe get them all home. Assuming the Stargate-thing works and assuming that they’re aren’t a billion Indiana-Jones-style booby traps involved. Everything’s really riding on Nuru’s shoulders now — his comrades, the pirates, and even Veeren, who in her still kinda-snobby way, makes it clear she won’t put the blame on him for the earlier Chiss station attack if they all get out. So onward to the Kwa Star Temple!
So to kinda sum it up, the sullustan archaeologists helped our heroes begin the journey into the Star Temple, and things went pretty well, all things considered, although yeah there were some giant killer whuffa worms that nearly killed Nuru and Veeren, and Cleaver almost didn’t make it back on board the ship fighting them off and stuff like that. But the Infinity Gate did its job and our gang was home free! So yayyyyyyy! (Ugh I’m sorry I totally cut corners and didn’t write more on this scene but I’ve been working on this for weeks now and I can only write so much…) And then the awesome pirates help fry Overseer Umbrag and his Separatist gang and save the Chiss station once again!
Nuru and Veeren left on good terms for the most part, despite the whole mess and the fact that the Chiss still are doing their neutral thing. Then awkward momennnnnt Veeren may have spilled the beans that Nuru is actually related to her. *Facepalm*, we feel your pain Luke…
But as our heroes start off on the long journey home, Sharp confides in Nuru that he suspects something… that perhaps the black hole thing wasn’t an accident. Could Lalo or Chatterbox be at fault? Or maybe Breaker? Nuru’s all like “What? Dude that’s cray.” BUT IS IT? IS IT REALLY ALL THAT CRAY?! AHHH SO MUCH INTRIGUE…! I can only wonder how this will all shake out in the end, but I can say with great certainty that Sidious’s hand is in this big-time… and remember that clone that was captured with Ring-Sol? HE CLAIMS TO BE SHARP. WHUT O.O
Seriously, and I’ve already read the third book and I’m dying to know if this all gets wrapped up in the fourth book, because I don’t think there IS a fifth book! Aw man so much happens in this series and I love it so much for that! In less than 200 pages are more adventures and excitement and lightheartedness to fill several episodes of TCW itself! I’m so sorry I didn’t get this out sooner, but hopefully now I’ll be back in the swing of things in the blogging world, so until next time ’round…

Keep The Peace,
– Twilight

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