[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
Hugo and Nebula Winner

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George Lucas's Monsters and Aliens, Volume 1:

Alien Exodus

Outline by Robert J. Sawyer

January 1995 · 11,000 words

Copyright © 1995 by Robert J. Sawyer
All Rights Reserved.

A note from Rob (2003) [this note appears at the beginning of both the sample chapters and the outline.]: In 1994, Ace Books — which had just finished publishing my Quintaglio Ascension trilogy — asked me to write a trilogy of novels outlining the origins of the races that make up the Star Wars universe.

At that time, Ace was still negotiating the details of a licensing agreement with Lucasfilm, and it looked like I'd be able to use the actual alien races that had appeared in the original trilogy of Star Wars films (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi).

I had never been keen on doing work-for-hire media tie-ins, but my then-agent urged me to give this project a try. So I wrote a 10,000-word outline for the first novel, which I was going to call Alien Exodus, and 11,000 words of sample chapters.

However, there were considerable delays in finalizing the details of the licensing agreement with Lucasfilm. By the time the book contracts were ready for my signature, it had been established that I couldn't use any of the actual races from Star Wars, and so I bowed out of the project.

Ultimately, Ace brought in writer Deborah Chester to produce the books. Deborah, of course, started from scratch, and created her own trilogy with all new aliens; these books were published under the umbrella title Lucasfilm Alien Chronicles.

Below is the outline for what I would have written; also available are the sample chapters I wrote.

No violation of Lucasfilm's copyright or trademarks is intended. I never signed a contract for this work, and was never paid for it, so I offer this material here as fan fiction.

George Lucas's Monsters and Aliens, Volume 1:

Alien Exodus

Outline by Robert J. Sawyer

Written in January 1995 · 11,000 words

In addition to the films of George Lucas, I have used the following reference books in creating this outline:
  • Carrau, Bob. Monsters and Aliens from George Lucas. Abrams.
  • Slavicsek, Bill. A Guide to the Star Wars Universe. Del Rey.
  • Denning, Troy. Star Wars Galaxy Guide 4: Alien Races. West End Games.


It is nighttime on the giant alien world of Forhilnor. Cosmo Hender, a human, is imprisoned in a large domed compound along with thousands of other humans, all clad in rags. Several Gamorreans — stout, piglike, green-skinned aliens with upturned tusks — march through the compound, armed with blaster rifles. A bed-check is being conducted: the exhausted humans are being inspected at the end of a day of slave labor.

Once the Gamorreans leave, and the compound is sealed, several humans help Cosmo escape through a secret tunnel that they have dug with their bare hands and drinking bowls. It's clear that the others look up to Cosmo as their leader — and leader material he is: handsome, youthful in appearance despite being at least middle-aged, strong, mentally agile, and charismatic.

Cosmo kisses his mate, brave, good-hearted Sallee, goodbye, and escapes into the night.

Once outside, we see that there are a total of nine domes spread out over a vast walled plain, cleared from a forest of gnarled alien trees. Cosmo catches sight of one or two other shadowy figures, also moving against the night. Beyond the domes is some sort of giant structure, obviously still under construction, only half visible in the darkness. Cosmo looks at it with disgust, but makes his way quickly to a hidden break in the wall surrounding the domes, where he slips out into the forest.

The sky is usually cloudy, but tonight, through a break in the clouds, Cosmo can see the Bloodstars, a small, densely packed globular cluster that is passing through this arm of the galaxy.

Soon others arrive — but they're not human. One representative from each dome has escaped for this latest secret meeting; such meetings are held only on the dark nights when Patroob, the largest of Forhilnor's three moons, is in its new phase. The represented races at the meeting, besides humanity, are Bith, Ithorian, Kubaz, Ortolan, Kitonak, Twi'lek, Mon Calamari, and Sullust.

Together, the individuals form the secret slave council, consisting of the leaders of each of the nine subjugated races — but Cosmo Hender is clearly the de facto head of the council.

Ridbrek, the wise, old Mon Calamari leader, complains that conditions for the slaves are worsening; his job is tending the herds of food animals that are used to feed the slaves — but the slave masters have cut the quality and quantity of grain available to his herds, meaning that the meat yielded is of inferior quality. Not only that, Ridbrek says he is getting too old for this — he finds himself more and more fatigued.

Jax Hobo, the Ortolan, says he, too, is fatigued, but he blames it on a recent cutback in food rations. No one pays much attention to this — Ortolans are obsessed with food [and Jax Hobo will provide Falstaffian comic relief throughout the novel].

Still, when Taffee McMal, the sturdy, stoic Kitonak, observes that he, too, is fatigued, there's no doubt — something is definitely wrong. Munnin Munb, the Sullust leader, turns to Cosmo: we have to get out, he says — we have to find a way to escape. Cosmo agrees. Sallee is pregnant with his child — he doesn't want his son or daughter to live a life of slavery. But they've all been enslaved for five generations — and none of them have any idea how they can escape, or even where they would escape to.

The meeting breaks up, and the slaves make their ways back to their domes. But on the way back, Hobo, the Ortolan, is confronted by a Gamorrean guard who has been out patrolling the area. The Gamorrean is about to shoot Hobo as a runaway slave, but Cosmo intervenes, and he and Hobo together kill the Gamorrean. They quickly hide the body, and hurry back to the slave compound.

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: Another place, another time. A world called Earth, in its early 25th century, is moving toward a totalitarian, computer-controlled society. An underground has been resisting this. Among its leaders are computer hacker Dale Hender [clearly a relative of Cosmo Hender, hero of the preceding chapter]; dashing and adventurous Paxton Solo; and his lover, the serious, tough-minded Antonia Corelli, pilot of the spaceship Oort Raider.

Dale uncovers plans by the computers that control this society to begin force-feeding drugs to the humans to reduce their passions. Not only that, but the computers will soon start taking away individuals' names and issuing them serial numbers. Indeed, Dale has cracked the computer bank containing the number assignments: his is to be the first of the THX series, THX 0001.

Dale has traced his own genealogy through computer records, going back five hundred years. He knows all about his ancestor Curtis Henderson, for instance [Henderson being the form of the family name before the practice of using nonsexist, non-patronymic naming was introduced in the 21st century]. But the new random serial-number system will destroy the ability to trace family ties, and take away much of their identity.

The underground is powerless to defeat the controlling computers, and so they plan to escape Earth aboard the Oort Raider. Earth doesn't yet have interstellar flight, but the Oort Raider is a giant ship, over ten kilometers long. Although huge, it is capable of landing on Earth — indeed, that's the whole point of its existence. Its four vast storage tanks are used to capture cometary nuclei from the Oort cloud at the outskirts of the solar system. These are then hauled back to Earth, where they are used for their water and other raw materials.

The underground is making secret modifications to one of the Oort Raider's four storage tanks to turn it into a habitat capable of taking five thousand humans on a multi-generation mission to Alpha Centauri, where the latest space telescope pictures have identified an Earth-size planet in an orbit they hope is appropriate to support life. There, they plan to create a new, free society — if, that is, they can escape from Earth ...

The next day, Cosmo is hard at work, along with a mixed human and Twi'lek crew, carving stone blocks in a quarry. The humans are working in silence — the masters don't allow work songs or conversation. But the Twi'leks are talking amongst themselves using intricate dances of their headtails. We see now the giant, half-built structure that was only glimpsed the night before. It is a vast stone temple, rising up a thousand meters into the sky.

Leego, the task master overseeing the slaves, is a Rodian — green skinned, with large, faceted eyes, a tapir-like snout, thick-stalked cup-ended antennae on his forehead, and long fingers ending in suction cups. He is a sadistic, cruel being, who delights in tormenting the slaves working beneath him. When he approaches Cosmo, Cosmo fears he's in for a beating — something Leego enjoys inflicting without necessarily having any provocation. But Cosmo is surprised when the Rodian simply tells Cosmo that he's wanted at the Governor's palace — in all his years of slavery, Cosmo has never once been inside the giant, opulent structure in which despotic Governor Kaxa and his family live.

A Gamorrean guard escorts Cosmo to the palace, and we see that the palace staff consists of about equal numbers of Gamorreans and Rodians — and we also see that there is no love lost between those two races; although they work together, serving the Governor, it's clear that Gamorreans and Rodians have an uneasy alliance at best.

Neither Gamorreans nor Rodians are the true master race; that role belongs to the Varlians — cold, calculating insectoid creatures, three times as large as a human. Cosmo is taken to see Delba, the sole daughter of Governor Kaxa.

Delba seems surprisingly gentle for a member of the master race. She tells Cosmo that she requires a new attendant on her staff, for she is soon to lay an egg. Leego has identified Cosmo as one of the strongest and brightest slaves. Henceforth, says Delba, Cosmo will no longer have to work in the quarries; he is now part of Delba's entourage, and will be quartered here at the palace. Cosmo is very upset — it will mean separation from his beloved Sallee. He protests that his wife is with child, but Delba dismisses his concerns; slaves have no choice in where they are assigned.

Reluctantly, as slaves have so many times before, he accepts what he cannot change. At least the work will be infinitely easier than carving stone all day — and, he suddenly realizes, access to the palace may be just the thing he needs to help the other slaves escape ...

Delba is having a party to celebrate her forthcoming egg-laying. She is surrounded by other Varlians, including her father, Governor Kaxa, who is cruel, mean-spirited, and power-mad.

Conversation amongst the Varlians turns to the topic of economics. Cosmo, who is serving drinks, momentarily forgets his place as servant, and chimes in with an opinion. Governor Kaxa is about to order him killed for insolence when one of the Governor's aides intervenes, observing that Cosmo's comment had, in fact, been quite clever and insightful. "We could use more slaves like him," the aide says. Kaxa relents, and the party continues, Cosmo having barely escaped with his life.

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: Plans are proceeding smoothly for the launch of the modified Oort Raider, but the controlling computers are becoming suspicious. The launch schedule has to be moved up. Five thousand members of the underground cram into the rude quarters that have been assembled in one of the giant comet-nucleus storage tanks. But the computers have discovered the escape plan, and a fierce laser battle ensues in the docking facility between members of the underground and police robots. It looks like the underground members will be captured, but some of them sacrifice themselves so that the rest can escape — and the giant Oort Raider rises up into the sky ...

When the party is over, and Cosmo is busy cleaning up the now-deserted room in which the party was held, Delba returns. She's very intrigued by what Cosmo had said earlier about economics, and engages him in conversation — the first time she's ever really spoken to him except to give orders. She's simultaneously amused and surprised by the facility of Cosmo's mind, and asks him if he's ever read the works of Balladda, a great Varlian thinker. Cosmo is surprised by the question. "Your highness," he says, "I can't read at all — no slave can."

Delba sees an opportunity here: she will soon have to begin teaching her own child to read. Why not practice her skills on Cosmo? Cosmo points out that it's illegal to teach a slave to read, but Delba counters that she is the Governor's daughter — she can do whatever she pleases. Besides, her Varlian friends are a bit thick — she'd welcome having someone clever around to discuss Balladda's writings with.

Delba begins teaching Cosmo to read. He picks it up with remarkable speed — he's quite bright, and the process is made easier by the fact that the Varlian alphabet is actually very simple — the letter forms match the shape of their insectile mandibles as they make different sounds. Delba enjoins him not to reveal his newfound skill to anyone else. Cosmo, feeling he has earned Delba's friendship, asks a favor: he reminds her that his mate, Sallee, will soon give birth. Could she, perhaps, be transferred to the palace staff, too?

But Delba dismisses the notion — she jokes that she doesn't want to share Cosmo with anyone. Cosmo realizes there is more than a grain of truth in that ...

Cosmo is in the palace when a commotion occurs. Three slave leaders — Jax Hobo the Ortolan, Ridbrek the Mon Calamari, and Fob Discordia, the sly and cunning Twi'lek leader — are brought before the Governor. A Gamorrean guard has been missing for some time now, and at last his body has been found by search parties. He'd been murdered, doubtless by a runaway slave. As punishment, says Kaxa, all slaves will have their workloads increased by ten percent. Fob protests that the slaves are already fatigued and at their limit of productivity, but Kaxa says that any slave that cannot meet the new quotas will be executed. Cosmo is enraged by this latest cruelty. He vows to find a way to free all the slaves ...

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: The Oort Raider is diving well below the ecliptic in its journey out of the solar system, but robot mining ships from the asteroid belt, loyal to Earth's controlling computers, try to intercept it. There's a fierce space battle, in which the robot ships use mass drivers to hurtle asteroidal rock at the Oort Raider. The Oort Raider carries dozens of small auxiliary ships, and these leave the mothership and engage the robot miners in battle. Thanks to them, and to Antonia's skill in piloting the mothership, the humans narrowly escape with only minor damage and casualties ...

Cosmo's lessons continue, and soon he is reading at a sophisticated level. It's time, says Delba, to try out Balladda's books. She sends Cosmo to the palace library; as her servant, he has the run of the palace. But when Cosmo arrives at the library, the librarian is gone — apparently out on an errand. Although Cosmo isn't supposed to let anyone know that he can read, he figures, what the heck, no one's here — he'll just wander into the stacks, find the book himself, and bring it to Delba.

But while searching for the Balladda book, he comes across something else — a book whose title is The Human Exodus. The title page says it's a new translation of an ancient human text into Varlian by the Varlian historian Nalltba. Cosmo is taken aback — a human text? As far as he knows, humans have never been able to read or write. He looks around — the library is still deserted. He slips the book into his bag, quickly finds the book by Balladda that Delba wanted, and leaves.

Delba has Cosmo read to him from Balladda's book, The Divine Varlian Destiny. It turns out to be a manifest-destiny tract about how the Varlians are entitled to subjugate all other lifeforms. Indeed, several hundred years ago, the Varlians were almost wiped out by a deadly plague called the Changa Bloodrot, characterized by purple and green splotching on the skin — the reason the divine one had visited it upon them was that the then-emperor of Varlia had failed to enslave the primitive Wookiee race when he'd had a chance. Cosmo, who had begun to feel some measure of affection for his mistress, is shocked to see that Delba fervently believes that what the book says is true — that the Varlians deserve to rule. He realizes to his despair that there's no way by rational argument that he'll ever convince Delba — or her father — otherwise.

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: The Oort Raider enters the Oort cloud, and tracks down three large comet nuclei. These are maneuvered into the three currently empty storage tanks. Comets are essentially dirty snowballs, consisting mostly of water polluted by carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen — they will provide all the water, the food-synthesis raw materials, and the reaction mass for the ship's fusion motors for the long journey to Alpha Centauri. True freedom is still years away, at the end of a long, arduous journey — but the men and women of the Oort Raider can already begin to taste it.

Cosmo sees more and more of the Varlian civilization — indeed, he has free run of the palace, except for one heavily guarded corridor, down which no one but the Emperor and two of his most trusted advisors are allowed to go. Cosmo finds himself feeling strangely energized whenever he's near this corridor.

Although slaves are much in evidence, performing personal services, Cosmo is surprised to see that the Varlians also enjoy a high level of technology. They have spaceflight, and many kinds of machines. He looks out a palace window at the humans struggling in the quarry. It makes no sense to him: the Varlians could build the temple much better and much faster using their machines. Why, he wonders, do they insist on having slaves do it?

Cosmo is alone in his tiny quarters. He has no nighttime lighting in his room, nor can he ask for any — what would an illiterate slave need with a lamp? But he sits near the window, and, by the light of Forhilnor's three moons, begins to struggle his way through the text of The Human Exodus. There are many unfamiliar words, but Cosmo manages to decipher it all — and is shocked to read the humans once before had escaped oppressors ...

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: The Oort Raider leaves Earth's solar system, the first manned ship to do so. There's a shipboard celebration — they're farther out than any ship has ever gone before, and going fast enough that they can't possibly be caught.

Everyone is settling in for the long voyage to freedom, when an alarm sounds from the forward sensor array. Something is pulling the ship off course. Antonia and her crew struggle to control the ship, but nothing they try helps. Ahead, a cosmic whirlpool has appeared — all sorts of interstellar debris, falling into an object that might be a black hole. It looks like the ship and its valiant crew are doomed ...

Governor Kaxa comes to see Delba while Cosmo is with her. The Governor, of course, ignores the slave, and simply speaks to his daughter. She must leave tomorrow for the Varlian colony world of Daltharg; Kaxa has arranged for the son of the Governor of Daltharg to fertilize the egg Delba is carrying. Such an auspicious union will do much to consolidate Kaxa's power.

Delba does not want to go — she has no objection to the assigned fertilization; that's the Varlian way. But she hates to travel, and it will be a long voyage — although the Varlians do have hyperdrive, spacetime near Forhilnor is bent severely by the nearby Bloodstars; this vast sea of red suns makes for very slow passage.

Kaxa curses the existence of the Bloodstars, too — Forhilnor was used as a slave repository precisely because the globular cluster's presence made it inaccessible, and Kaxa had been assigned to this backwater of the galaxy because the Emperor feared his ambition. But Kaxa will show him ... one day he will be Emperor, and the alliance with Daltharg is crucial to that.

Cosmo, assuming he will be traveling with Delba, is excited by the prospect. Perhaps he will even be able to escape while offworld himself, and find allies to return to free the other slaves ...

Delba is packing for her trip; Cosmo, owning nothing, has nothing to pack, but assists her. He asks how long they will be gone from Forhilnor. Delba is sad. She will be gone for three months, but Cosmo won't be coming with her; her father feels she is too attached to Cosmo as is, and says the separation will do her good. She will be taking two Kubazi handmaidens instead. Cosmo is shocked, wondering what will become of himself while she is gone. Delba leaves for the spaceport. Kaxa wanders by his daughter's chambers, sees that Cosmo is still there, and orders him sent back to the quarries. A Gamorrean guard comes to take him back, forcing Cosmo to leave at once. But Cosmo can't allow himself to leave without his book. He dupes the Gamorrean into allowing him to return briefly to his quarters, and he hides the book in his clothing. The book has become an inspiration to him, and he knows it will be an inspiration to the other slaves, too.

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: The Oort Raider falls into the whirlpool. The giant ship goes on a wild roller-coaster ride as it becomes clear that they've encountered not a black hole but rather an interstellar wormhole — a passageway between distant points in space. The ship sustains heavily casualties and damage during the passage, but then emerges out into what seems to be normal space. Normal, but not familiar — the sky is densely packed with blue and white stars, meaning they're likely inside a galaxy, rather than a globular cluster, but dominating the view is another nearby spiral galaxy. The conclusion is inescapable — they are no longer in the Milky Way. Nor are they in its near vicinity: the visible spiral galaxy matches the arm pattern of neither Andromeda nor the Milky Way.

Antonia orders a computerized search for radio signals. But almost at once Dale Hender reports a startling result. His radio equipment is designed, of course, to ignore the 21-centimeter wavelength, where the three-degree-Kelvin cosmic microwave background radiation is found. (The cosmic background radiation is the heat left over from the original Big Bang explosion. It has cooled over time to just three degrees above absolute zero.) But, as Dale explains to Antonia, the three-degree band is clear; instead, there's uniform background noise at seven degrees. There's only one possible explanation: they've been displaced not only in space, but in time, as well: the universe is billions of years younger, and so the microwave residue of the Big Bang explosion hasn't cooled as much. Antonia makes the announcement to the crew: it is now a long time ago, and they are in a galaxy far, far away ...

Leego, the Rodian task master, relishes having Cosmo back — but remarks that the human has grown soft during his stay at the palace. He says with sadistic glee that an extra half-shift each day will toughen Cosmo up, and so when the Twi'lek and human work crews retire for the day, and a group of nocturnal Sullust and Ithorian workers take their place, Cosmo must continue working, cursing the job even more now that he's seen that such slave labor isn't necessary, given the machines the Varlians have ...

Finally, exhausted after his work back in the quarry, Cosmo has a touching reunion with Sallee. In his absence, she has given birth to a son, but has held off naming him until she and Cosmo were together again. They agree the child's name will be Freedom, something they fervently hope he one day will have ...

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: The Oort Raider was badly damaged coming through the wormhole. Repairs are made, and the crew begins arguing about whether they should risk heading back through the wormhole again.

On the one hand, they'd never intended to return to the oppressive Earth anyway, but on the other, they at least had suspected a habitable planet awaited them around Alpha Centauri. They may find nothing here at all.

Antonia decides that they will attempt another passage through the wormhole, and orders all the auxiliary ships, which have been out exploring, to return to the mothership. But suddenly the whirlpool begins to fragment. It is, apparently, a transient phenomenon. They can race toward it, and probably make it through before it collapses completely, but one of the auxiliary ships, the Century Eagle, piloted by Paxton Solo, has been exploring far from the Oort Raider. Antonia has to choose: either make a mad dash for the wormhole, possibly just barely squeaking through, or waiting for the return of the Century Eagle.

Paxton urges her to go, to save everyone, but at the last second, Antonia aborts the maneuver, unable to strand her lover alone in a strange galaxy. The wormhole collapses. They are now here for good.

A terrible accident occurs in the quarry. Munnin Munb, the Sullust member of the secret slave council, is killed. All the Sullust slaves stop working — under Sullust religious law, five days of mourning must be observed for the death of a leader. The slave masters threaten to kill the Sullusts if they do not return to work, but they insist: in their culture, one who strives for power is damned, and a leader is consigned to the Sullust version of hell unless his subjects pray for him upon death. It's the power of their positive thoughts that lift him from hell to heaven. Munnin Munb had been kind and well-liked, and the slaves will not abandon him.

Leego is prepared to open fire on the Sullusts, to kill all those who won't return to work. But Cosmo intervenes. He insists that the Sullusts be allowed their religious observance. Leego is about to gun down Cosmo, but a Gamorrean stops him — Munnin Munb may have been leader of the Sullusts, but Cosmo is de facto leader of all the slaves. Kill him, and there will doubtless be an uprising.

Leego is unwilling to decide Cosmo's fate himself. He drags Cosmo in shackles off to see the Governor.

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: Several small auxiliary craft are sent out to do parallax studies, to try to identify nearby stars. It turns out there is a yellow dwarf G-class star less than half a light-year away. The wormhole may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise: their journey to a new world may have now been cut considerably in length. (Indeed, the astrophysicists among the crew suggest that wormholes can only appear between points deep in a gravity well — in other words, it's not coincidence that they came out close to a star; they had to — just as the wormhole that had temporarily appeared on the outskirts of Sol system had had to appear at such a location.) The ship starts in toward the yellow star. Anticipation is high — but it quickly turns to concern when radio signals are detected. Someone — or something — is already there ...

Cosmo, emboldened by what he has been reading about human ingenuity and the desire for freedom, tells Governor Kaxa that a society built on slaves cannot endure. Eventually, the slaves will rise up. To avoid that, he must free the slaves — after all, he doesn't need them, anyway.

The Governor laughs at this notion — the workers of Forhilnor have been enslaved for centuries. They know no other life. Cosmo insists that he should let them go. Some of the Governor's aids urge Kaxa to kill Cosmo at once, but others advise that Cosmo will become a martyr if that happens. He should be left alive, they say, but his spirit must be broken.

The Governor considers. He will allow the Sullust slaves their five days of mourning. But Cosmo will be caged for those same five days, without food and with only minimal water, kept on public display outside the palace. Disobedience will be seen to not be tolerated.

Ugerat, a Kubaz, is the slave community's resident shady character, ingratiating, conniving, and able to procure things others cannot. Still, she is loyal to Cosmo, whom she sees as her best chance of escape. Her diet, like that of all Kubazi, consists of insects, and every night, she drives swarms of glocka beetles into Cosmo's cage — beetles that are almost pure protein. Cosmo surreptitiously dines on these ...

Fob Discordia, the cunning Twi'lek slave leader, arranges to do work outside the palace. Although he can't speak to Cosmo, during Cosmo's long shifts with the human/Twi'lek quarry crew, Cosmo has learned to read Twi'lek headtail-dancing — the intricate pattern of movements of the two Twi'lek headtails that can be used to communicate without words.

Mon Calamari, meanwhile, have keen, almost telescopic vision when working in the air (a side-effect of them having eyes that can deal with multiple refractive indices, being also capable of working under water). Ridbrek, working across the square, watches the movements of Cosmo's fingers — Cosmo can, after a fashion, imitate Twi'lek tail-dancing with hand sign language.

Ortolans, meanwhile, can generate subsonic sound by vibrating their elephantine trunks — they are capable of talking amongst themselves over great distances without appearing to talk at all. Ridbrek relays what Cosmo is saying to Jax Hobo, and Hobo and the other Ortolans pass on Cosmo's instructions to the rest of the slave population. Even apparently isolated in a cage, Cosmo is coordinating a complex plan ...

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: The Oort Raider is rapidly approaching the alien star system — and it soon becomes apparent that the radio signals aren't coming from any of the system's planets, but rather from a fleet of spaceships approaching the system from the other side. There is one planet in the star system's habitation zone — close enough that it will have a surface temperature above the freezing point of water, but not so close as to be too hot for life. In the ship's telescopes, it's seen to have a very high albedo — meaning it likely has clouds and oceans. But there's no artificial radio noise at all coming from it. The crew realizes that they and whoever is approaching from the other side may have stumbled on the planet at the same time. The humans, of course, are willing to share — there are only five thousand people aboard the Oort Raider, after all. But what will the intentions of the approaching aliens be?

At the end of his five days of confinement, Cosmo is brought before Governor Kaxa, who expects to see a broken man. Instead, Cosmo is healthy, and apparently undiminished in strength. Cosmo warns the Governor: The spirit of the slaves is stronger than he thinks. Let them go!

The Governor, although less cocky than the first time, again ridicules this suggestion. The nine races will always be slaves. Cosmo is told to return to his normal work in the quarry — work that he will do until the day he dies, says the Governor.

Cosmo again entreats mercy for the slaves. They are being worked too hard, he says — many are abnormally fatigued. Indeed, he says, although they've been keeping it a secret, many have died recently. There seems to be a disease spreading through the slave quarters. The slaves have been burying their dead in secret — since the disease infects across species boundaries, they feared the masters might try to stop the plague by killing those who had contact with ones who had succumbed to it. In fact, he says, Munnin Munb died of this very illness — the accident in the quarry was faked, to hide the true cause of his death, and it's only because he was the Sullust leader that his body, too, hadn't been buried in secret.

Governor Kaxa orders the body of Munnin Munb exhumed. There are purple and green splotches on it. The Varlian doctor who exhumed the body is terrified. The marks are just like those of the Changa Bloodrot, the plague that devastated the Varlians on their home world centuries before.

The doctor makes his report to the palace by radio, and immediately quarantines himself. Precautions must be taken to ensure that no Varlian comes in contact with the plague — it will infect any species whose DNA codes for the blood protein fibrinogen — including all the slave species, the Varlians, and the Gamorreans. Only Rodians are immune — Rodia is unique in the galaxy in having intelligent lifeforms based on RNA rather than DNA. Kaxa is furious: he would have soon launched his plan to seize the Emperorship, but now everything is threatened by the plague. He needs the slaves alive for his plan. He gives orders to put his plan into effect early. If the slaves are dying off, he must act at once.

An earthquake occurs. The temple, still under construction, tumbles to the ground. There is destruction and death everywhere, but Cosmo heroically saves several other slaves, and even one Gamorrean, who was pinned by a large piece of rubble.

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: The Oort Raider reaches the new world first. It's everything the humans could have hoped for: a land-water world, with an atmosphere they can breathe, covered with vegetation, many types of animal life, but no indigenous intelligent life. Indeed, it seems a tropical paradise, a second Eden — absolutely beautiful and unspoiled.

There's no way the Oort Raider could make another interstellar journey, and the humans want very much to stay here. Antonia lands the giant ship on the planet.

But three other large ships arrive, landing in a small valley a few kilometers from where the Oort Raider has put down. A land speeder brings a crew from the alien ships to meet the humans, providing their first contact with other intelligent beings. The reader recognizes the aliens as Rodians — and they are carrying what appear to be formidable sidearms.

With them is one member of another race, a thin biped with a huge cranium, large, black, lidless eyes, and folds of skin covering the lower part of the face — a Bith. It becomes clear that the large-headed creature is a linguist. It has a phenomenal vocal range, an apparently perfect memory, and a vast intelligence. In short order, it learns English from Antonia, Dale, Paxton, and the others, simply by having them point at objects and say their names, or perform actions and say the verb associated with those actions.

The Bith tells the humans that his personal name is Laximas. Everything is going fine — first contact seems peaceful enough, and, although the humans can't talk directly to the Rodians, at least the Bith interpreter seems quite friendly, although the Rodians do seem to treat the Bith rather callously.

To the humans' amazement, Laximas explains that the Rodian ships had been traveling in hyperspace — a technology far beyond what the humans have — when they detected the presence of the transient wormhole. Such wormholes can wreak havoc on hyperspace travel, and so they'd dropped down into normal space. Apparently, they are carrying some sort of valuable cargo, and wanted to take no chances with it. Once in normal space, they'd detected the Oort Raider by its fusion exhaust, and had decided to have a look at it.

Antonia is pleased by their good fortune at meeting friends so soon, but Paxton and Dale are suspicious. Something about the Rodians' behavior is very ominous ...

To Cosmo's surprise, the masters do not seem upset that the great temple has been destroyed; they're only sad about other, more practical buildings that have been damaged. Leego orders that the slaves start again building the temple, but he takes a number of slaves, and orders them to work on the rebuilding of the damaged buildings — including the library. Only slaves unaffected by the Changa Bloodrot plague can be allowed to work that close to the palace, so Cosmo is amongst those selected.

Leego has a secret meeting with the other Rodian guards. Although they are better off than the slaves, they are still under the command of the Varlians, and they have to share what wealth the Varlians dispense with the disgusting Gamorreans. Perhaps this plague isn't such a bad thing after all, he says, if it will eliminate the Varlians and leave the Rodians as rulers ...

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: After nightfall, Paxton and Dale make their way under cover of darkness to the Rodian landing site — and are shocked by what they see. One of the landers has its cargo bay open, and inside are hundreds of Biths, crammed into filthy living conditions. The Rodians are slavers, and their "valuable cargo" is a load of Biths. As the two humans watch, one of the Biths tries to escape, and a Rodian gives chase. The Bith is no match for the Rodian's tracking skill, and although Paxton tries to create a diversion without giving his presence away, the Rodian hunts down and kills the Bith.

The moon Patroob is in its new phase again; it is time for another meeting of the secret slave council. Cosmo slips out to attend it. As usual, the sky is mostly overcast, but Cosmo observes that the Bloodstars seem to cover a smaller amount of sky than he'd remembered.

At the meeting, Jax Hobo, the Ortolan, is quite agitated — the stars are out of alignment, he says, portending very dangerous times ahead. Cosmo dismisses this as just renowned Ortolan superstition ...

Cosmo realizes that knowledge is the key to the slaves' salvation. He secretly beings to teach the Bith slaves, including one named Galarax, to read. With their huge brains and flawless memories, it takes but a single lesson to teach anything to a Bith — and they, in turn, will go out and teach the members of other races.

Leego the Rodian goes to the library, and finds the old records related to the Changa Bloodrot. He has a plan that will lead to the downfall of the Varlians ...

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: Paxton and Dale return to the clearing. The other Biths are being forced into arduous physical tasks, and the ones that fail are being shot. Paxton spots Laximas, the translator, amongst a group waiting to be tested. He makes his way through the dense foliage until he is close to Laximas. He manages get his attention, although Laximas seems quite myopic, unable to make him out until he is very close; he later explains that Biths have microscopic vision, but this skill is at the cost of not being able to see distant objects clearly. The Bith speaks to Paxton in low tones: the Rodians intend to take the humans as slaves — there's a high-price market for exotic slaves. They've got a load of 15,000 Biths in captivity, but are going to weed it down by a third, to make room for taking the 5,000 human captives — the Rodians figure an exotic human slave might fetch a price ten times what a common Bith gets.

Paxton tries to create a diversion to help Laximas escape with them. In so doing, he opens one of the other Rodian cargo holds — and is shocked to find a giant, two-headed dragonlike creature within. It is also part of the Rodian cargo, a rare monster collected from very distant lands to be sold to the highest bidder.

Paxton, Dale, and Laximas escape into the forest.

An earthquake aftershock occurs — and this time, it's the Palace Nursery that's in danger. The Gamorrean in charge of rebuilding the library grabs Cosmo, the Kubaz named Ugerat, two Biths, and five super-strong Kitonaks, and takes them to the nursery. They have to evacuate the young Varlians before the whole building collapses.

Like many insectoids, Varlians have a larval stage. In this stage, they are sluglike beings larger than a human, with two small arms; giant mouths slitting their massive heads, and huge golden eyes. The reader is shocked to recognize the description: larval Varlians are much like the creatures they know as Hutts. Cosmo and the others help evacuate several larvae and several more Varlians in a cocoon state. Once they have gotten the young to safety, Cosmo watches in wonder as a metamorphosed adult emerges in fully insectile Varlian form from a cocoon.

Ugerat, the sly Kubaz, is an expert in insectoid lifeforms; after all, her entire diet consists of bugs. And Ridbrek, the Mon Calamari, is well-versed in genetics and selective breeding; he is responsible for tending the herds of animals used to feed the slaves. And Galarax, like all Biths, has eyes capable of seeing at a microscopic level. Although Cosmo's secret plan is working, they figure it's better to have two separate thrusts at gaining freedom. Together, the three of them come up with an idea ... but they'll need more information to carry it out.

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: While heading back toward the Oort Raider, Paxton, Dale, and Laximas are attacked by the escaped two-headed dragon. Paxton is almost killed, but knowing he has to get back to warn the others gives him the strength to defeat the beast ...

Leego meets with Gondo, a mad-scientist-type Rodian chemist. The book on the Changa Bloodrot plague is frustrating. It's an old, damaged volume, and predates any notions of chemistry, so there's no information on the actual plague micro-organism. But it's clear that blood plasma carries it — and that contact with the blood of a victim causes almost instant death ...

Cosmo returns to the rebuilding of the library. The aftershock has damaged it even more. Cosmo almost breaks down and weeps at the sight of so many ruined books, so much lost knowledge. He begins sorting through the volumes that are now lying in a heap on the floor.

A piece of the ceiling begins to cave in — it's going to crush Cosmo's Ortolan friend, Jax Hobo. Too far away to intervene, he shouts a warning to Hobo, who looks up and sees the ceiling coming down. But, as the roof collapses, something remarkable happens: the pieces of debris deflect away from Hobo. The terrified Ortolan ends up standing, untouched, surrounded by a ring of rubble ...

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: Paxton, Dale, and the Bith translator Laximas quickly brief Antonia Corelli and the rest of the humans. They've got only a few options, the best of which seems to be to try to strand or kill the Rodians, free the Biths, and escape with them in the Rodians' fleet of faster-than-light craft. But they only have a matter of hours to prepare. The Rodians are heavily armed and technologically superior. Still, Dale estimates there are only a few hundred of them, and if the tide could be turned, and the Biths would join the fight, they might easily be defeated by the combined total of almost 20,000 humans and Biths.

Governor Kaxa is furious. He confronts his advisors — they'd promised him infinite power; how will he be able to attack the Emperor if Forhilnor is reduced to asteroids? They protest that the earthquakes are Kaxa's fault — he'd demanded they begin enacting his plan early than scheduled, and some settling-in difficulties have to be expected ...

Still in the library, Cosmo is amazed by what happened with the collapsing roof. Although he's ashamed to admit it, Cosmo had closed his eyes when the roof had started to collapse. But still he could see, he says, exactly what was happening, and he could feel each piece of rubble, as if he were touching it with ethereal fingers ...

Hobo hears something — another Ortolan calling to him subsonically, passing on a message from Ugerat. They need books on a particular topic ...

The next day, at a meal break, Cosmo manages to slip over to a Kubaz feeding group. Leego, the Rodian taskmaster, is amused by this, and tells Cosmo if it's bugs he wants to eat, then bugs he'll have. Leego smashes Cosmo's food bowl, and forces him to dig in to the disgusting Kubaz fare. But the meeting has served its purpose: Cosmo has succeed in smuggling a special book to Ugerat, a book with two intertwined spirals on its cover ...

A palace messenger arrives. Delba has returned to Forhilnor, and is asking for Cosmo. She's furious that he'd been sent back to the quarries in her absence. The messenger taunts Leego that he will feel Delba's wrath for mistreating her pet ...

Cosmo gets a final moment with Sallee and baby Freedom before he is dragged off once again to the palace. Just before he leaves, he gives Sallee instructions to pass on to the Kitonak leader, Taffee McMal ...

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: Although the human technology is inferior to that of the Rodians, the Oort Raider has one thing the Rodians do not: three giant cargo holds containing the nuclei of captured comets. When out in space, the nuclei had been frozen solid — giant, dirty snowballs. But since landing the ship on this temperate world, the nuclei have melted, filling the holds with cubic kilometers full of dirty water, and that gives the Bith named Laximas an idea ...

The Oort Raider does a low-level flight over the low small valley in which the three Rodian ships have landed, and it opens its massive cargo holds, dumping the cometary meltwater into the valley, flooding it. Laximas had revealed that Clak'dor VII, the Bith homeworld, has many oceans, but Rodia is a jungle world where rain evaporates as soon as it hits the ground, meaning there are no open bodies of water. So, Biths are accomplished swimmers, but Rodians are unable to swim at all. The slavers are drowned in the cubic kilometers of cometary water, while the thousands of Biths swim to the surface, then to shore, and freedom.

But one Rodian gets away — he uses his blaster to kill a half-dozen Biths, then lashes their bodies together, forming an escape raft. Antonia chases after him, but he manages to send a radio signal before he is captured ...

Cosmo is reunited with Delba. She had laid her egg on the Daltharg colony, and it hatched there. She is now accompanied by her son Gelleda, a baby Varlian larva, already a meter long and growing rapidly.

Delba seems genuinely upset at how Cosmo was treated while she was gone. Things will be different from now on, she promises. Her father has begun to enact his plan to seize control of the Varlian Empire, and soon they will have unlimited wealth.

Ugerat, Ridbrek, and Galarax have completed their secret work, using the information they have found in the book Cosmo smuggled to them. A sealed glass vial is prepared ...

While Delba sleeps, Cosmo slips away. Human slaves are a common sight in the palace, and no one pays him any attention, since he is walking purposefully, as if in the process of running an errand. He meets up with Taffee McMal, the Kitonak, who is also in the palace apparently on business. Taffee has brought with him a small stunner — stolen ages ago, with only five shots left in it, used by the slaves only when absolutely necessary. They make their way down the palace's one forbidden corridor, using up three of the five remaining stunner shots to subdue guards. They place a jug of Gamorrean wine next to each of the prone bodies.

Whatever, the Governor is up to, the secret must lie behind that door, and perhaps it can be used to help the slaves gain their freedom. Cosmo and Taffee make it to the end of the corridor and pass through into the secret chamber ...

Inside is a massive blue crystal, measuring a meter across — and, floating above it, levitating in the air, is the Governor Kaxa himself. He seems to be enjoying himself immensely. Cosmo and Taffee remain hidden behind some curtains, but, to his surprise, Cosmo finds himself rising into the air ...

Suddenly one of the Governor's aides enters, furious. He's found the Gamorrean guards apparently passed out from drinking in the corridor, leaving the crystal room unguarded. Kaxa's mind is on other things, though: how long till they arrive back at the Varlian empire?

Cosmo thinks he must be mishearing — arrive back? But he picks up from the conversation the horrible truth about what's been going on. The building of the temple was just a make-work project to occupy the minds of the millions of slaves on Forhilnor. Kaxa's aides have discovered the existence of some sort of hitherto unknown Force, innate to living matter — and this giant crystal acts as a lens for that Force, channeling it in a single direction. Kaxa is using the Force harvested from the millions of slaves to actually move Forhilnor and its sun out of the dead region of the Bloodstars and into the mainstream of Varlian space, where, with millions of slaves as his soldiers, he will storm the imperial palace and make Forhilnor capital of the Varlian empire. The earthquakes were caused by the planet's inertia as it resisted being moved through space.

Cosmo seems to have a native ability to tap into this Force. Being close to the crystal, which has stored a huge supply of it, he manages with great mental effort to levitate Taffee. The two of them silently rise up, escaping in the nick of time through the chamber's ceiling ventilation ducts.

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: With its initial fuel supplies gone and its cometary tanks empty, the Oort Raider can't take off again until the tanks are refilled with water from this beautiful world's oceans. Work begins on that. But now that the transient wormhole is gone, starships can exit hyperdrive directly inside this star system, and suddenly a giant warship appears orbiting above the planet. A shuttle comes down from it, disgorging large green piglike aliens with upturned tusks. The Bith translator recognizes them at once — Gamorreans, sometime enemies of the Rodians, but currently their trading allies. This time, hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, all the humans and the Biths are taken prisoner.

At Cosmo's request, the Ortolans use their ability to call to each other subsonically to summon an emergency meeting of the secret slave council ...

Cosmo and Ridbrek tell the other slave leaders what they've discovered about the Force, and explain that the fatigue the slaves have been feeling has been caused by having their Force drained from them by the mysterious crystal.

The others slave leaders are dubious — they, and generations before them, have worked so long on the temple, they are having difficulty accepting that it was a meaningless make-work project. Even though they hated every moment spent in its original construction (and are hating the time being spent on its current post-quake repairs), they wanted to know that it would stand for a thousand centuries, that people in millennia to come would look upon it and marvel — and know that, once upon a time, there had been beings who had built it, that in some small way they would be remembered.

But Cosmo demonstrates the truth of what he's been saying. He closes his eyes and concentrates so hard that sweat flows from every pore. At first nothing happens, and Ridbrek and Hobo turn to go, but then slowly, very slowly, Cosmo rises into the air, levitating high off the ground.

"I didn't do this on my own," he says. "I did it by tapping into this Force I've told you about." With proper mind-training, he believes any living being can tap into the Force — and all of them, all the millions of slaves, must learn to do that, if they are to be free. Taffee confers on Cosmo the nickname "Skywalker" for his ability to levitate ...

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: In short order, more Rodian ships arrive. An argument ensues amongst the Gamorreans and the Rodians. The former claim half the slaves as fee for rescuing the lost cargo. The Rodians offer a bulk payment of just 500 Biths and 100 of the exotic new humans as payment. It looks as though in-fighting between the two slaver races may escalate enough that the humans and Biths might be able to escape ...

Nighttime. Ugerat, who, like all members of the Kubaz race, has excellent night vision, escapes the slave compound through the secret tunnel, and makes her way toward the reservoir that stores the palace's water supply. She empties the vial into the water, and slips back into the Kubaz slave dome.

Delba has come to the communal nursery. It is the three hundredth day of her son Gelleda's larval state — the day on which he should spin his cocoon and begin his metamorphosis. Because he is destined to become an important Varlian leader, the event is shrouded in ceremony and ritual. But the day passes without the slightest sign of the larval child beginning to secrete a cocoon casing ...

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: The Gamorreans and the Rodians come to an agreement on dividing up the slaves. The Rodians can keep three-quarters of all the Biths, but the Gamorreans get the remaining quarter, plus half the humans. The humans are divided into two groups — with Paxton Solo being put in one, and Antonia Corelli into another. They plead, through Laximas, that they are mated, and shouldn't be separated, but the Gamorrean slavemaster laughs — slaves don't get to choose their own mates. Get used to it, says the Gamorrean: for humans, freedom is a thing of the past.

It is now several days past when Gelleda should have begun cocooning. Delba demands that a Varlian doctor examine him. The doctor says Gelleda has failed to develop the cocooning apparatus. Delba is devastated.

Leego and the other Rodians raid the slave compounds, exhuming and confiscating the bodies of deceased slaves. They are taken to Gondo, who prepares spray guns filled with blood plasma extracted from the corpses.

Two more Hutt-like Varlian larvae are due to enter the cocoon state today, but both of them fail to begin the metamorphosis. And Gelleda is growing bigger; he is now weeks past the point at which his larval stage should have ended, and so is larger now than any larva anyone has ever seen before, a slathering monstrous being, five meters long ...

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: Isolated from the second group of humans, Antonia and those with her organize a daring plan to try to seize the Gamorrean shuttle. They undertake it, but it looks like all is lost — until Paxton and some of the humans from the other group appear. They'd come up independently with a similar plan to seize the shuttle. They make it aboard, along with some of the Biths, including Laximas, who knows how to fly the ship. They take off — but the Gamorreans radio after them that they will kill the remaining humans and Biths unless they return. Antonia figures they are bluffing — why kill thousands of valuable slaves to regain only a few hundred?

But the Gamorreans and Rodians do start executing the slaves, a hundred at a time. Laximas admits that it's him they are after: having been used in many negotiations, he knows valuable secrets, including a plot by the Rodians to betray the Gamorreans at an upcoming trading session. The Rodian slavers will indeed kill all the others just to get Laximas back.

Antonia returns the ship to the ground and surrenders. The Rodian leader is about to execute Laximas so that he can never be a threat again, but Paxton and Antonia intervene — and Antonia takes a blaster shot intended for the Bith. She lays dying in Paxton's arms. He promises her that she'll always be remembered.

While the slaver ships are being readied for launch, Dale and Paxton bury Antonia — the one human who will remain behind on the beautiful planet.

The Varlians now realize that there is indeed a plague upon not just their slaves, but on the Varlians themselves. None of their offspring are entering the cocoon stage — and since it's only after metamorphosis that Varlians are capable of reproduction, it begins to look like this will be their final generation. Perhaps the Changa Bloodrot has mutated, and is causing this new effect. Kaxa and his aides debate whether to summon help from the Varlian homeworld. His aides tell him not to do that — if the plague is contagious, it might spread throughout their entire species everywhere in the galaxy. But Kaxa orders a call be made to the homeworld.

Ugerat, Ridbrek, and Galarax are perplexed. They had designed their serum to prevent Varlian larvae from entering the cocoon state, and had assumed the larvae would simply die once they had failed to do so. They hadn't anticipated them simply continuing to grow, and they now admit to the other slave leaders that they have no idea how long each larva might live — it could be centuries, or even tens of centuries. And, although they can never reproduce naturally, since they will never enter the adult state, they might be able to continue on through cloning themselves ...

Cosmo is disgusted. The adult Varlians were bad enough, but these giant larvae are even worse — being cruel and greedy, as only children can be.

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: The slaves are rounded up and apportioned again between the Gamorreans and the Rodians. They are ready for departure; all that remains is for the Bith translator to be executed. But suddenly another starship arrives in orbit around the planet. This one is of an unknown design, but is clearly superior to both the Rodian and Gamorrean forces. Laximas is left alive, in case his translation services are needed. A crew shuttles down from this new ship. The creatures aboard are giant insectoids — this is the first contact with the Varlians.

Laximas establishes that the Varlians, too, had detected the transient wormhole by its hyperspace signature, and had come from their very distant home sector to investigate. By the time they got here, the wormhole was gone, but their scanners showed life on this planet, which the Varlians now summarily claim for the Varlian Empire. They announce that Varlians will now be moving into this part of the galaxy, taking it over.

Cosmo demands an audience in front of the Emperor. Kaxa, devastated by what is happening to his people, grants it. Let the slaves go, Cosmo demands. The plague is raging amongst them — Cosmo removes his tunic and shows that he himself now has the telltale purple and green splotches on his arms and chest. The Emperor, terrified of further infection, relents at last — there already is a fleet of ships ready for his attack on the Emperor's homeworld — enough to carry all the slaves away. Take them, he says — take them and get out!

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: The Gamorreans and the Rodians, realizing that they are no match for the superior Varlian technology, make a shrewd decision. They give all 20,000 Bith and human slaves to the Varlians, as an act of tribute, and ally themselves with the insectoids, promising to help them subjugate all other races in this sector. Thus the deadly pattern of Varlian overlords, aided by Gamorrean and Rodian henchmen, is established — a pattern that continues to plague the galaxy to this day ...

Cosmo assembles a team of slaves for a very special mission. There's one final task they need to perform before leaving Forhilnor behind ...

He leads a commando-like raid, using the final stunner charges left in their one stolen weapon, but the key to the operation's success is Cosmo's ability to skywalk.

Still, during the operation, Cosmo is cornered at last by a Gamorrean — there's no way to escape, and the stunner is empty. The Gamorrean has a blaster and can kill Cosmo where he stands — but he does not. This is the same Gamorrean Cosmo had saved all that time ago during the earthquake. He lets Cosmo go.

The vast fleet of ships lift off on autopilot with the millions of slaves aboard, heading at last for freedom ...

Leego and his lieutenants march into the Governor's court. The Governor's is shocked by the intrusion, but Leego tells him to shut up. His lieutenants spray the Governor and everyone else in the room with the plague serum. "We're sick of serving under you," says Leego. "And now, you're all going to die." At this very moment, he says, Rodians are dumping Changa Bloodrot serum into the palace water tanks — but Leego wanted the Governor to know who had bested him before he died.

The Governor and the others Varlians panic — they have only moments left to live. Kaxa curses Leego, who is savoring this moment of triumph ...

But nothing happens — the plague serum is ineffective; no one is dying.

Leego realizes he's made a big mistake — the Gamorreans guards swarm and dismember him. But the Governor realizes that he's made an even bigger mistake himself — he let the slaves go when there no plague at all! The slaves had faked the signs of the Changa Bloodrot in order to gain their freedom. Kaxa orders his Gamorrean guards to take off after the slaves and bring them home.

An excerpt from The Human Exodus: The human and Bith slaves are all en route to Forhilnor, a harsh, giant planet where the Varlians intend to imprison the civilian populations of all the worlds they conquer. As Paxton Solo and Dale Hender look back on the green-blue paradise of a world they are leaving behind, they agree that it should be named Corellia, in honor of their dead Captain, Antonia Corelli. They vow that one day they will return, and make that lush world their peaceful home.

The Gamorrean fleet is in hot pursuit of the escaping slaves. Incredibly, the slaves are heading toward the Bloodstars — even though Forhilnor itself has moved far away from them. The Gamorreans are delighted — the slaves will never be able to escape that way ...

Guards burst into the throne room — the Force crystal is gone!

Cosmo leads the millions of slaves in seeing with their minds: they all close their eyes, and see beyond their ships' hulls, see the tightly packed red stars of the globular cluster blocking their path. They concentrate, concentrate, concentrate ... and the Bloodstars stars begin to move, parting in a huge pyrotechnical display, making way for their ships, as millions of minds focus all their access to the Force through the stolen crystal.

The crystal begins to vibrate under the strain. Cracks are appearing in it. As the crystal begins to show signs of fatigue, so does Cosmo himself. Without knowing it, he's been sustaining himself all these years by drawing power from the crystal ...

The Gamorreans are still in hot pursuit, but, at last, the ships carrying the slaves make it past the Bloodstars. Finally, under the strain of pushing the stars aside, the crystal shatters, and Cosmo collapses to the ground. Over the course of a few minutes, he ages forty years, growing gray and wrinkled and infirm.

The red stars rush back together under their own gravity, crushing the pursuing fleet, hundreds of Gamorrean craft crashing into the great fiery orbs ...

Free of the combined gravity well of the Bloodstars, the escaping ships go to hyperdrive, setting a course for Corellia, the verdant, unspoiled world Cosmo has told them about ...

It will still take weeks of travel to reach Corellia — weeks that Cosmo no longer has left. Fading rapidly, he names his successor: Ridbrek, the Mon Calamari, will be the new leader of the freed slaves, taking them into the promised land.

Sallee and young Freedom are with Cosmo as he passes on. They promise to bury Cosmo with honor next to the fabled tomb of Antonia Corelli on Corellia. And they promise that, like her, he won't be forgotten — Sallee will write down the history of their slave days, and teach all of their descendants to read the story of their savior, Cosmo Hender, the Skywalker ...


Read the first 11,000 words of this novel.

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