Trapped in the vast expanse of Wild Space, in the far outskirts of the galaxy, this inexperienced team must look for help among a world of smugglers and criminals while evading Darth Sidious's ruthless bounty hunter, Cad Bane. With few options and time running out, they'll need all the help they can get!
A squad of clone trooper "shinies" under the charge of Clone Captain Lock are dispatched from the Republic Star Destroyer Demolisher to sort through the wreckage of the dreaded Separatist heavy cruiser Malevolence, which had previously been sabotaged and crashed into a moon by Anakin Skywalker. Republic intelligence reports indicated that the Malevolence had been constructed at the Pammant Docks by the Free Dac Volunteers Engineering Corps, part of the Quarren Isolation League. The clone reconnaissance and recovery mission confirmed this report. Exotic circuitry was also discovered, however, among the debris. This on-board circuitry was delivered to Jedi General Ring-Sol Ambase, who brought it directly to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine on Coruscant. It was the Jedi Master's very firm conclusion that the circuitry was manufactured by KynachTech Industries on the planet Kynachi, which was previously believed to manufacture it's unique brand of technology solely for peaceful purposes. Though Kynachi had isolated itself and severed all ties with the Republic ten years earlier, the existence of their circuitry aboard the Malevolence came as a grave surprise. Given that Ambase was born Kynachi and had studied his home planet and people extensively, Palpatine asks Ambase to undertake a secret mission to Kynachi to discover the true nature of what is going on there.
Returning to the Jedi Temple, Ambase informs his newly-appointed Padawan Nuru Kungurama of his imminent departure and that the apprentice will not be joining him. Young Nuru is a Chiss, but doesn't know any more about his heritage than most others, as he was an infant when he was brought to the Temple. Nuru was too young to be called into action at Geonosis and his original master, Lanchu Skaa, did not return from the battle. Further, Nuru was only recently assigned to Ambase. As Ambase leaves for the hangar, Nuru experiences a strong sensation in the Force that this new master will also not return from his mission. In the hopes of somehow preventing any dreadful events from transpiring, Nuru uses the Force to influence a clone trooper and stow away on the freighter the task force is using to infiltrate Kynachi.
It is revealed, however, that the entire mission is an ambiguous plot by Palpatine's alter ego, the Sith Lord Darth Sidious.
Ambase's task force includes three clone squads under Captain Lock's command and two clone pilots. Upon exiting hyperspace near Kynachi, the task force is ambushed by Trade Federation Vulture Droids. It is also quickly discovered that their freighter has been sabotaged. In the frantic action, Ambase falls prey to toxic gas and is unconscious while Nuru's presence aboard the ship is discovered. Master and apprentice are split up, however, in separate, also-sabotaged escape pods.
The two groups crash land in their escape pods and are almost immediately beset on the cold and rainy planet by native crustacean creatures and more Vulture Droids. Nuru's group attempts to continue the mission while also trying to discover what happened to General Ambase and his group. Along the way, they are assisted by grounded smuggler-turned-diner-owner, Lalo Gunn and beguiled by an unusually helpful ally in the bounty hunter Cad Bane, who is under unknown orders from Darth Sidious. Gunn's navigator droid Teejay is destroyed by droid commandos, who are tipped off by none other than Cad Bane. After taking out the droids and based upon information of Ambase's whereabouts from the bounty hunter, Nuru, Gunn, and the clones plot a prison break that involves combining a droid commando body with Teejay's brain. The droid is renamed Cleaver.
Ten years prior, Kynachi had been subjugated by the Trade Federation, who jammed all communications to hide what they were doing. In the break out, a clone re-opens communications and calls in reinforcements. Skakoan Overseer Umbrag from the Techno Union flees the facility and the planet in his Metalorn yacht, setting the auto-destruct sequence. Cad Bane also cuts and runs, but taking the still-unconscious Ambase with him in a coffin. The Duros contacts Darth Sidious and is told to go to the Bogden system and await further instructions.
By holocomm, Yoda is none to pleased with Nuru's unauthorized absence from the Temple and his stowing away on the task force's freighter, but Palpatine intervenes and, seeing that the Padawan is a Chiss, taps him and the newly-christened Breakout Squad for an immediately pressing mission to meet a Chiss ambassador on Csilla. Lalo Gunn and Cleaver volunteer take the squad in their freighter.
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Organizations and titles
Vehicles and vessels
Weapons and technology
Behind the scenes
While discussing the plan to free Ring-Sol Ambase from the KynachTech factory prison, the droid Cleaver asks what he's to do if he's discovered in the control room. Lalo Gunn answers, "Lock the door", and Cad Bane adds, "And hope they don't have blasters", mirroring a scene from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, where Luke Skywalker and Han Solo say the same thing to another droid, C-3PO, when the latter is going to stay in a control room in the Death Star, while Han and Luke free Leia Organa from the detention block.
Windham's involvement in the Star Wars universe has largely been freelance writing assignments, rather than his own story ideas. As such, he was instructed by Lucasfilm to include the Malevolence in the book. However, he did not want to ground the entire Secret Missions series into Season One's timeframe because the later books would come out long after that episode of the show.
Notes and references