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[Clone Wars]
Events that occur between 22 years and 19 years before the Battle of Yavin.

[ no cover image available ]

Short Story
First published in
Star Wars Insider #68 to #70:


The Hero of Cartao
SHORT STORY
Timothy Zahn
Paizo Publishing
Story published as:
Short Story (2003)

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Synopsis:
THE SPAARTI INCIDENT
Kinman Doriana, personal aide of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, is sent to the trading world of Cartao, a world that has thus far maintained careful neutrality in the Clone Wars. Doriana intends to change that, however, as he flies past Foulahn City towards the Spaarti Creations manufacturing plant. Landing at the estate of Lord Pilester Binalie, he informs him that Palpatine is interested in this unique manufacturing plant, run by Cranscoc and capable of changing their production lines overnight. He demands to have a personal inspection tour of the facility. In addition to Binalie, he has Binalie’s 12-year-old son Corf and the system’s Jedi guardian Jafer Torles come along on the tour. Impressed by the facility, Doriana announces that Palpatine has ordered the whole facility to be nationalized for Republic military use. “Beginning this evening, Spaarti Creations will be turning its complete facilities over to the manufacturing of a new design of cloning tanks.” Binalie – and everyone else on Cartao – have no choice or say in the matter. He adds that he’s had the 13,000 non-Cranscoc employees of Spaarti Creations infected with a synthetic disease resembling Plyridian fever, hence getting them out of the plant and keeping them quiet. Torles is sickened and refuses to have any part of the scheme; Doriana presents him with an order from the Jedi Council ordering him to cooperate. 
After checking via holo with Commander Roshton that the Republic techs, schematics, workers and troops needed are on their way, Doriana contacts his other employer – the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. Impressed that things are going well, Sidious directs Doriana to “continue as you are and allow the plan to work itself out. Report again when things become interesting.” 
A week passes, and Spaarti Creations is completely converted into a cloning facility pumping out a new kind of cloning tank – one that can produce an adult clone trooper (one per tank) in a matter of weeks, not a decade. Binalie and the authorities of Cartao are close to panic – the Republic’s supposed to move out in three more weeks, but the Separatists will surely learn of the scheme and attack Cartao before then! They’re more right than they know, as Corf and Jafer spot three Trade Federation landers flying near the Binalie estate towards the plant. 5,000 battle droids – and only 900 clone troopers to defend the plant. Binalie starts moving the Republic techs through an underground tunnel towards his house, as Jafer and Roshton direct the clone troopers to block the landing ramps into the plant. Doriana is surprised – this is not how it was supposed to go! The clone troopers lay ambushes in areas that disturb the Cranscoc workers, thus ensuring the plant can’t be converted for Separatist use before Republic reinforcements arrive…
Two days pass as the Separatists clear off the junk around the plant. Chancellor Palpatine informs Doriana over holo that the Separatists plan to use the plant to produce the new D-90 commando super battle droids. Palpatine assures him a Republic light cruiser is on the way to take over the orbiting Separatist ship. After he ends his message, Darth Sidious contacts Doriana with a different set of orders – see to it the Separatists capture Binalie for use as a hostage. And at all costs, make sure neither side damages Spaarti Creations itself. Even as they speak, Neimoidian commander Tok Ashel bursts into the Binalie estate with super battle droids in tow, ordering Binalie to tell him how to reconfigure the assembly lines. Binalie explains he can’t do that, as only the Cranscoc twillers can do that – and they won’t move until all the junk is cleared off. Angry and stubborn, Ashel seizes young Corf as a hostage and orders Binalie to either join him in the plant and tell him how to reconfigure the plant without the Cranscoc… or have his son returned to him dead. Torles joins the boy as a hostage, passing himself off as a simple teacher. 
Elsewhere, Commander Roshton learns of the double kidnapping and comes up with a “fun” plan – arrange a series of explosions via strategically-placed land mines, allowing Torles to get the boy clear of the Neimoidians. That done, Roshton has forces hidden in the nearby forest shoot down the overhead STAPs and transports. But this only brings in two more Trade Federation landers that send occupying droid troops smashing into Foulahn City and Triv Spaceport. Roshton is running out of options – they need those cloning tanks, but not bad enough to let the Neimoidians pump out D-90 droids by the thousands. Just in time (for Doriana), the light cruiser Whipsaw arrives to attack the droid control ship and launch gunships. As night falls, Commander Roshton and Master Torles leads a clone trooper assault on the plant’s east door, lightsaber swinging. Torles himself sneaks into the plant and captures a terrified Ashel as the droid control ship blows up in orbit. All seems won -- until the droids spring back to life, forcing Torles to retreat and trapping Roshton and his forces inside the plant. (The Neimoidians had a backup droid control program in one of the landers.) The Separatists pull all their forces around the plant, waiting for time and starvation to rid them of Roshton and the Republic troops inside…
After hours of searching through the rubble of a battle-smashed Foulahn City, Doriana finally finds what he was looking for – a dead clone trooper with an unlabeled datacard in his back pocket. He’s surrounded by a battle droid patrol, but he’s prepared – he presents the datacard as his credentials. When the droids scan the card, they freeze up. Kinman takes the override disc Darth Sidious gave him back from the droids – and is confronted by Torles. “Since when do the Separatists give free passes to Palpatine’s advisors?” Kinman says he passed himself off as a medical observer from Aargau. Torles doubts the story…but doesn’t have anything to back those suspicions up with. The two return to Lord Binalie at the estate’s greenhouse, where Doriana informs them that they can use his override card to get to Roshton and his forces and get them out of the plant. They can’t last for long, and reinforcements are too far away – “Unless there are other forces available that I don’t know about?” Torles doesn’t understand why this question is directed at him, and Doriana doesn’t give him the chance to think about it. 
The next morning, Torles and Binalie (Doriana chooses to sit this one out) joins up with the surviving Republic forces outside the plant and presents them with Doriana’s authorization. Using an unfinished underground tunnel into the plant (which Torles can ‘finish’ with his lightsaber), the troops are to sneak in the plant and smuggle the Republic troops out without letting the Separatists in on the escape. The evacuation goes according to plan, and the entire group waits for a distraction outside the plant to let them slip out. That distraction, a clone trooper feint-attack on the backup DCP lander, turns into more than a distraction when Roshton and his forces unexpectedly join in. “This is our one chance to get into that landing ship and destroy the droid control matrix,” Roshton tells a shocked Torles and an enraged Binalie. Torles reluctantly sends Binalie back to his home and accompanies Roshton on the assault, realizing the Neimoidians will throw caution to the winds at this point and wreck the plant while defending themselves. Moving as never before, Torles single-handedly takes out two AAT’s and a droideka. But then, suddenly, more reinforcements come…..Jedi reinforcements, inside an assault transport!! But as Torles watches in slack-jawed horror, the transport (which came out of nowhere to all concerned) fires….and deliberately levels the Spaarti plant and everyone in it!!! 
And then, as if to ensure its’ work was done, the transport kamikazes straight into what’s left of the plant and blows both transport and plant to bits. 
The battle is won. The Separatists are off Cartao. And Cartao and its infrastructure is a burning ruin, thanks to the Jedi Order. Lord Binalie and young Corf now hate Jafer Torles and blame him for the catastrophe. And the saddened Jedi Master, now a pariah among the people of Cartao, can’t help but feel anger and vows whoever sent the Jedi on their suicide mission to Cartao – even if it’s the Jedi Council itself – is going to pay for this atrocity. 
And elsewhere, Darth Sidious gloats with Doriana over holocomm over the total success of his scheme. The “Jedi” in the transport were unrecognisable corpses with lightsabers and Jedi robes strategically placed around them – a frameup that worked perfectly. “The destruction of the Jedi will be only half a victory if the people of the galaxy mourn their loss. Thanks to your work there today, few in Prackla Sector (or elsewhere) will shed even a tear at their passing.” Sidious notes that the several thousand clone cylinders the Spaarti plant manufactured before its’ destruction will be shipped at Palpatine’s orders to a secret fortress on Wayland he has ordered reactivated. Doriana asks if he should “arrange for them to be lost." Sidious sneers and tells Doriana to "let Palpatine have his little trophies."


Chronology:
This story occurs 12 months after the Battle of Geonosis, approximately 21 years before the Battle of Yavin.


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