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Lit Re-Reading The Thrawn Trilogy

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Vialco, Jun 9, 2017.

  1. Vialco

    Vialco Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2007
    With all this Thrawn hype going around, I decided to do a re-read of the original Thrawn Trilogy and thought it might interesting to have a discussion about the original medium where the greatest Grand Admiral appeared. Not sure if this is allowed, but I did have some observations about the trilogy and the Star Wars themes that Timothy Zahn incorporated into his work at the time . I also had some thoughts about how the trilogy holds up 25 years later, with all that we've learned about the Prequels.

    Anyways, these are my initial thoughts on the first few chapters of Heir to the Empire.

    Han’s first scene is back in the Mos Eisley cantina, right where we first met him in A New Hope. Wasn’t he a General in ROTJ, five years before the Thrawn Trilogy? Why’d he give that title up? He’s clearly a very good battlefield commander, courageous and an excellent leader. Yet in Heir to the Empire he’s right back into a smuggler role, running around the Galaxy and meeting with criminal types.

    Luke’s still the Last Jedi at this point. What has he done in these five years? It seems he’s started training Leia, but her skills seem very basic. Luke’s had five years to instruct her and he only got a week from Yoda. It seems that the antipathy to making Leia a full Jedi existed even in 1991.

    Leia’s place in life here makes the most sense. She was a Senator at the start of the Rebellion, it makes sense that she’d return to politics and help build the New Republic up into a truly just and democratic government. One small bone to pick, though. How can Leia be the Senator for Alderaan when Alderaan doesn’t exist anymore? Alderaan can’t be a member of the New Republic for the simple fact that it’s history. How can Leia claim to be a Senator of a world that no longer exists.
  2. MartyAvidianus

    MartyAvidianus Jedi Padawan star 3

    May 14, 2017
    1. Han -- according to my understanding is that He feels like Wedge Antilles. Can't stand a promotion. He wants where the action is so to speak It make sense he resigns his commission.
    2. Luke -- We see maybe 15 minutes of Yoda training Luke, but it may have been more than a year at least. The asteroid field is not right over Hoth, and then Han and Leia spent some time in the "Cave". Then their hyperspace is dust so they use "impulse" power to get to cloud city. Travel is fast in SW, but it's not instant. We don't actually know how much Leia's IQ and Force sensitivity actually is. Maybe it just takes longer for her to become full Jedi. i.e. Luke has been training her for 5 years to get her so far.
    3. Leia -- Half of what you say is correct. However, it's more of a honorary title. It's like we still call him President Bush when obviously Trump is POTUS.
  3. Darth_Duck

    Darth_Duck Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Oct 13, 2000
    The French parliament has 11 constituencies for citizens living out of country, maybe Leia is the Senator for the "Alderaanian Community"

    Or senator for the Alderaan sector, or Alderaanian space. Surely they had a few surrounding planets under their influence.

    Sent from my SM-G386W using Tapatalk
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  4. Nom von Anor

    Nom von Anor Jedi Knight star 2

    Oct 7, 2012
    There's another populated planet in the Alderaan system that people usually forget about, Delaya. Perhaps Leia represents that as well.
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  5. Vialco

    Vialco Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2007
    Perhaps Leia then represents Delaya. One thing about the New Republic as we see it in TTT is that it seems to be a remarkably undemocratic society. There's no appearance of a full Senate. All important decisions are made by the Provisional Council, a rather small body. There also seems to be a great deal of tension between these Council members, especially Borsk Fey'lya. The Bothan is very power-hungry, almost too ambitious it seems. Why does the New Republic that fought to defeat Emperor Palpatine and his tyranny operate in such a undemocratic way? Where is the full Senate that the Old Republic was said to have. For all the victories the New Republic seems to have had, they appear to still be very much at war.

    One of the bigger themes in the first chapter is Luke's unease at the NR taking up residence in the old Imperial Palace. This never made sense to me. The Republic isn't the Empire. The Alliance to Restore the Republic claimed the Empire was evil and an illegitimate regime. Wouldn't it make more sense to raze Palpatine's palace and build a new governmental center, one that's would symbolize the freedom and democracy the New Republic is supposed to represent?
  6. MartyAvidianus

    MartyAvidianus Jedi Padawan star 3

    May 14, 2017
    It's alliance to restore the republic. The old republic is the empire. Remember, the senate voted Chancellor Palpatine to become Emperor. They (the Senate) wanted it. I'm pretty sure even though the senate supposed to represent the systems (with their constituents) The senators pretty much did what they want. It (the republic the rebel alliance wanted to restore wasn't really a democracy to begin with).

    Look, the rebel alliance definitely had better capital ships, better snubfighters Probably a bigger fleet when every faction gets together. the only problem they had is they don't have a death star. Their leaders are rich senators with big pockets.

    It's basically a war of Roses, both sides represent some kind of monarchy. (See chief of state, did what they want).
  7. SyndicThrass

    SyndicThrass Jedi Knight star 3

    Sep 25, 2016
    I liked what Zahn did with Fey'lya and the Bothans. It's something he does consistently, that alien species have unique perspectives and views that make them distinct from traditional human outlooks. The Bothans being from a culture that is inherently ambitious and promotes aggressive and underhanded politics makes for a fascinating conflict between Fey'lya and the non-Bothan members of the New Republic that have to work with him.
  8. comradepitrovsky

    comradepitrovsky Jedi Knight star 3

    Jan 5, 2017
    Borsk was always the hero the Galaxy needed.
  9. MartyAvidianus

    MartyAvidianus Jedi Padawan star 3

    May 14, 2017
    I hate Borks Fey'lya's guts.

    He's just there to be difficult to my heroes.

    oh wow he took down gazillion vongs when he committed suicide for the greater good!

    Yeah, if he weren't so power hungry and incompetent that he won't see a good defensive strategy and take good advice he wouldn't have to commit suicide and cost the NR countless unneeded casualties.

    I can't believe there is any serious Borsk fans. He's the Rebel Leader who make you root for the Empire.
    Ackbar's Fishsticks likes this.
  10. Darth Dnej

    Darth Dnej Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 27, 2013
    I'm going to re-read The Thrawn Trilogy at some point. As for your question about Luke and Leia, did you really expect Leia to give up politics to become a full-time Jedi? She feels that she has a commitment to the New Republic. Also, it is not surprising that Luke is still struggling after 5 years with his first student. There is no one alive to give him advice on how to teach.
  11. Vialco

    Vialco Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2007
    But he doesn't need instructions on that. He had first hand instruction from a Jedi Master.

    "Pass on what you have learned."

    In the Last Command he teaches Mara just fine. Once you've learned a skill you possess the knowledge and ability to pass it on to someone else. Just teach them the way you were taught, adjusting the teachings to remove whatever obtained you faced.

    One of the problems with TTT is that Timothy Zahn wrote it as too technical. Star Wars has never been a "hard sci-fi" franchise. In Star Wars Rebels, former Padawan Caleb Dume teaches Ezra Bridger how to be a Jedi, even though Caleb's formal Jedi training was never completed.
    Darth Dnej likes this.
  12. comradepitrovsky

    comradepitrovsky Jedi Knight star 3

    Jan 5, 2017
    I'll do my one post on Borsk and drop the subject before we get too far in, as I feel rather strongly about this.

    Sci-Fi doesn't like democracy. Full stop. Zahn and Stackpole especially love the trope of the hard military man who can make the hard choices that the weak politicians are unable to make. And considering the subject matterof mil-sci-fi, that makes narrative sense. But it consistently makes it so that the New Republic appears to be pathetic and corrupt, held together only by the soldiers and those closely associated with them. Leia, Gavin Darklighter, and Kre'fey outright threaten the New Republic with a coup. (And I'd wager this narrative of government corruptness is why we have non-@GrandAdmiralJello folks who unironically believe the Empire was better.) Borsk is given the narrative flag of designated evil politician, and as such is automatically treated as a self-serving bastard. (Note that the 'good' politicians are either soldiers -- Garm -- or, in Legends, willing to bend entirely to the wishes of their soldiers -- Mon, Leia, Ponc).

    But, if we strip aside the narrative restrictions of us only seeing him from the eyes of the Sky-Solos and military men, Borsk's policies are pretty logical. What are his main planks? Keeping the military firmly under civilian control -- and given that the Empire was dominated by the military, yeah, that makes sense; a civilian government in power was what they fought for. Advancing the rights and interests of non-humans -- and given the blatant and ruthless human-centrism and xenophobia of the Empire, yes, he should: it's Reconstruction. And keeping the Jedi under the control of the civilians government, and with a close eye kept on them -- and, hey, a pair of magic space wizards ruled the Empire; watching to make sure they don't rule the NR isn't that unreasonable.

    His policies in the NJO are topics for another day, and I can't really fault him for falling into a trap set by Thrawn. Borsk is a politician, yes, but one with a straightforward and logical set of policy goals that are only really evil in the sense that they conflict with the aims of our Hard Military Men and the Sky-Solos.
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  13. MartyAvidianus

    MartyAvidianus Jedi Padawan star 3

    May 14, 2017
    The only part I tend to skip is Leia's trip to Kashyykk the wookiee home world. It was boring. That part is the only complaint against all of Timothy Zahn's work.
    Maybe I just didn't care about Leia's POV.


    This is my two cents about NR.

    I am not saying the Empire is better, I'm saying the NR is no better than the Empire.
    As I said, it's basically two Empires against each other, except Empire A lost and Empire B (the rebels) won.

    Seriously, the NR can equip themselves with more advanced weaponry, better snubfighters, better flyers, better or at least on par capital ships (mon cals don't have obvious vulnerability such as bridge right where the enemy can ram a dang snubfighter and disable the whole ship). I can understand if a pilot of NR flys better than an Imperial pilot, but consistently win when having superior weaponry. It's like using an army of flintlock against an army equipped with mp40s.

    Obviously the rebels are richer. The 1 percent. their wallet filled with rich ex old republic/empire senator's pockets.

    We can't simply say hey but the Empire is ran by a mad man Emperor! But remember, he was democratically elected and when he said "and now I will reconstitute the republic into the first GALACTIC EMPIRE! It looked like the vote was unanimous for. Where was Bail, Mon Mothma, and other senators who was supposed to vote against him?

    Mon Mothma and Bail Organa formed the rebel alliance to get their cushy senator pension back.

    Wow the non humans, finally won! Free drinks for everyone. Now where is the latest human IMperial world to conqu--uh I mean convince to join?


    Yes we are rather off topic. Continue, Vialco, and let's see what you think of the rest of the book.
  14. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Force Ghost star 9

    Sep 2, 2012
    The RoTS novel shows how Padme is the reason for them not immediately speaking out - because otherwise they'll be arrested (and that prior to his Declaration, with the Delegation of the Two Thousand) there had been some opposition):

    Bail couldn't hear Padme over the din, but he could read her lips.
    So this is how liberty dies, she was saying to herself. With cheering, and applause.
    "We can't let this happen!" Bail lurched to his feet. "I have to get to my pod—we can still enter a motion—"
    "No." Her hand seized his arm with astonishing strength, and for the first time since he'd arrived, she looked straight into his eyes. "No, Bail, you can't enter a motion. You can't. Fang Zar has already been arrested, and Tundra Dowmeia, and it won't be long until the entire Delegation of the Two Thousand are declared enemies of the state. You stayed off that list for good reason; don't add your name by what you do today."
    "But I can't just stand by and watch—"
    "You're right. You can't just watch. You have to vote for him."
    "Bail, it's the only way. It's the only hope you have of remaining in a position to do anyone any good. Vote for Palpatine. Vote for the Empire. Make Mon Mothma vote for him too. Be good little Senators. Mind your manners and keep your heads down. And keep doing... all those things we can't talk about. All those things I can't know. Promise me, Bail."
    "Padme, what you're talking about—what we're not talking about—it could take twenty years! Are you under suspicion? What are you going to do?"
    "Don't worry about me," she said distantly. "I don't know I'll live that long."

  15. fett 4

    fett 4 Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 2, 2000
    You really can't read TTT without reading it's sequel Hand of Thrawn duology as well which ties most of things from this up.
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  16. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    At the risk of pointing out the obvious but the Provisional Council is....provisional.

    There's no sign of the Senate because it doesn't exist yet.

    They haven't set it up.

    Unlike in canon where it magically pops up within a few weeks.

    Honestly, I think Han being a general was ludicrous in ROTJ. Always has been. Also, almost none of what you have said about him is true (and the fact Leia has said the same is also untrue). He's courageous yes but he's a terrible battlefield commander and an even worse leader. In any situation where there's a leadership situation, Han defers to Luke or Leia. "He's the brains sweetheart."

    He also gets them sucked into a pretty awful trap on Endor and the fact Leia isn't leading the group seems a bit sexist since Han clearly has no idea what he's doing when things go to heck in the battlefield. Making him a general seems more a sign the Rebels have suffered severe casualties and yet managed to replenish their losses than anything else.

    But in the Zahn-verse, I think it's more the fact he simply thinks Han has retired to civilian life. I can't think of a man LESS qualified to live a life as a career soldier than a man who literally has the last name "Solo." He's an independent and free spirit in an iconic fashion. Yet, ironically, I like the fact he also is perfectly content to be a house husband and that's not something he's condemned for in the EU either.

    In the case of Luke Skywalker, the implications for the book were the fact he's spent the past five years fighting with the Alliance. Luke, unlike Han, was someone who lived and breathed the Alliance so him giving it up was a bigger surprise than Han retiring from the military. Even so, this is supposed to be the first time they've really had to sit down and focus on peace. Unlike in canon, the Empire took awhile to "expire." In the universe Zahn has set up, the Empire is all but collapsed and the idea it will take 15 more years to "kill" is an EU invention that has yet come to pass.

    Still, I like that Luke has matured but is not ready to jump into a teaching situation. He was only 23 when he became a Jedi Knight and still has a lot to learn about life before he's ready to start creating the next generation of Jedi.

    Alderaan's people live on even if Alderaan, itself, is destroyed. I figure the first person who brought up Alderaan shouldn't have a place at the table probably lost any and all political credibility they had.

    But in the EU, before Zahn wrote this book, "New Alderaan" existed as one of the Rebellion's safe worlds.
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  17. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    I *SOMEWHAT* agree with you on this as the issue of science fiction and fascism has been a subject I've had several online debates on and the fact it keeps coming up pretty much is a sign there's something to the issue. I also wrote LUCIFER'S STAR (see my avatar) because I wanted to write a story which was the "anti-military sci-fi." Which was a stupid thing on my part because The Forever War already existed. I wrote, instead, a story about the Evil Empire's soldiers coming to terms with the fact they were bad guys and the galaxy hated them. So, basically, Soontir Fel's novel we never got.

    I've never been entirely comfortable with the way Timothy Zahn keeps falling back on the principle of the "Good Imperial." The Thrawn Trilogy doesn't have much of it but Choices of One, Allegiance, and the Hand of Thrawn Duology (plus "Thrawn" itself) all seem to portray the Empire in a fairly flattering light. The Empire ends up as a tolerated Principality in the end of his books
    and this is portrayed as a good thing. This is the equivalent of the Space Nazis being allowed to keep Space Berlin once they got rid of their harsher beliefs.

    I had a similar problem with STARCRAFT of all games for something that bothered me a great deal and that's the ascension of the "good" Emperor Valerian Mengsk. Starcraft isn't a feudal fantasy in Space, Warcraft allusions aside. It's a game set in the future of the human race and Arcturus Mengsk taking the title of Emperor is meant to be LUDICROUS. Yet, it's normalized within a few years despite the fact he overthrew a (corrupt) democracy.

    Oddly, I've always felt (whatever my disagreements with George Lucas) that he was actually very good at avoiding sci-fi fascism despite what "Star Wars on Trial" came to say. He had the Mandalorians become pacifists because he didn't like lionizing the warrior ethos. He made Amidala an elected queen because he wanted to make sure we understood democracy was a good thing. He made the Senate dissolving a plot point. Leia was a Senator. There's never any talk of replacing the Emperor, it's all about restoring the "Old Republic."

    Ironically, you're missing what happens with a lot of characters and that's Characterization Moves On (see where a character can be introduced with a certain sort of attitude and backstory only to have that completely shift.

    One thing you're missing, is well, Borsk is a reactionary pro-military right-winger while Ackbar as well as Leia are the leftist peaceniks. It's not until the NJO he becomes all about pro-civilian, anti-Jedi, and pro-alien rights.

    "WHAAAAA?" you say? Yes, that's actually one of the fun things about TTT which shows Zahn changed quite a bit of his attitude in sci-writing on.

    Borsk's platform in TTT is that he is courting the military vote hard. So hard that Wedge Antilles, not really all that important guy (that will change in Stackpole's works), thinks Borsk is planning a military coup. He is constantly badmouthing Admiral Ackbar and to a lesser extent Princess Leia because they are people who are advocating for a demobilization of the galactic military and moving to peacetime status. Borsk calls out Ackbar for being weak and out of touch with the common soldier.

    It's why he's courting Garm Bel Iblis because he knows his own military record isn't quite as illustrious as Ackbars (to understate things considerably--he has to steal glory by bringing up the Bothans who died for the Second Death Star plans that he wasn't a part of). He wants Garm to come back and be a big war hero who gives Borsk his endorsement so he can be Mon Mothma's replacement.

    Leia's problem is that she, too, is way more military credible than Borsk so she must be eliminated. Borsk knows he has to get rid of her if he is to use his power base to become the conservative hardliner's pick.
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  18. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Force Ghost star 9

    Sep 2, 2012
    Stackpole was playing on it somewhat in the X-Wing comics and novels - he accuses his political enemies of showing signs of prejudice at every opportunity:

    "You refer to us as 'alien,' and the Princess calls us 'non-Human.' Why are we defined by you and in comparison to you?"
  19. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    Well, Leia is hugely racist against furry people.

    Walking Carpet
    No Medal for Chewie

    I blame it as her aunts taking away her Pittens.
  20. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Force Ghost star 9

    Sep 2, 2012
    I figure Lucas changed it at the last minute (maybe Carrie & Peter Mayhew rehearsed it, found it very awkward- and that was when Lucas made the change?) - the novelisation has him get one at the ceremony - and the comic alludes to how, because of his height, he'll have to put the medal on himself.
  21. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 25, 2013

    It's not just sci fi, either. That's increasingly the standard in all of fiction. Police procedurals are all about how lawyers and IA are pond scum letting criminals go on technicalities and tieing up the heroes in red tape by alledging that "people" have "rights." Superhero comics are all about how anyone who wants people who regularly deploy WMD level power to be accountable to anyone is a supervillain or a power hungry fascist. Etc.

    But yeah, Borsk, loathsome as he is as a person, wasn't wrong about everything. My hate for NR politics doesn't set in until after the NJO, when it starts looking like EVERY NR politician is either bad (in a much more one dimensional way than Borsk) or powerless.
    Gamiel likes this.
  22. fett 4

    fett 4 Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 2, 2000
    It's funny but Paul Veerhoven (who actually lived under Facist rule as a child) when he directed Starship Troopers, took the facist narrative of that book (veterans should rise up and take control) and outlook you mention and satired it brilliantly in the movie.
  23. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 7

    Jul 19, 1999
    If anything you could liken the Imperial Palace, in the rebel perception, to that of a death camp. I don't think those places have been built on because of the knowledge of what happened there, there's a sense that they're tainted ground. Add in the dark side, the older, Luciferian, satanic force of evil version, permeating it and it's not that big a leap.

    re: Borsk

    Let's be honest here: Borsk is a scumbag. What makes it work is that he's a clever one, wrapping up his xenophobic disdain for others in a cloak of cultural values that were terribly oppressed by the Empire. Politically, that's a masterstroke while being morally bankrupt.

    I'm also convinced that for all posturing Borsk doesn't want to "win" the game of politics, but simply keep it going. It's notable that in NJO, when he had "won", it all fell apart for him very badly.
  24. Vialco

    Vialco Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2007
    Some very good points here.

    Jedi Ben

    I agree, the Imperial Palace does have a subtle Dark-Side vibe. Luke can't really sense it in Chapter 1, but just being there makes him very uncomfortable. Luke actually has the same view I do, that the New Republic setting up shop in the Emperor's old set of power sends the wrong message.

    Seriously, why would people like Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar, the main leaders of the Rebel Aliiance, people who despised the Emperor, allow his palace to remain standing? Once the Rebels had taken anything of value from it, the Imperial Palace should have been razed to the ground. A democratic republic has no need for a palace as its headquarters. And, not to jump ahead to the Last Command, but we see later in the series that the Emperor's former residence has many traps and snares for the Republic.


    I do see your point about acknowledging the loss of the Alderaanian people, but a democracy should be equal. The people of Alderaan largely don't exist anymore. They contribute nothing to the New Republic. Why should a planet that no longer exists be allowed such strong representation and influence in a democratic republic?

    As for Borsk Fey'lya and the Bothans, I find it very odd that they can claim so much power and position for their role in obtaining the intelligence on the Second Death Star. Wouldn't some Councilor, or even Ackbar denounce their contribution?

    Endor was a trap. The Bothans only got the information on it because Palpatine wanted them to. The presence of thirty star destroyers and an operational superlaser at Endor make it clear that it was a trap. I'm not sure why someone hasn't pointed out that the biggest contribution of the Bothans was a farce that almost led to the end of the Rebellion.

    Moving on to the next set of chapter, we see Thrawn and co arrive at Mount Tantiss. Thrawn does show a remarkable level of foresight here in bringing ysalamiri to defend against C'baoth. Moreover, he demonstrates a level of respect, by acknowledging that a Dark Side Master has a great deal of pride.

    I've already stated my opinion on the ysalamiri so I won't go into that here. The existence of Mount Tantiss is an interesting idea. But why would the Emperor hide his storehouse all the way out here in the Mid Rim? Either the Unknown Regions or the Deep Core would seem like better locations to me. This is basically in the middle of nowhere, but not secure at all.

    C'baoth's boastings about killing the Guardian of the Mountain are a figment of his addled mind of course. He is the Guardian, there's nowhere else he could have been created. Although it does puzzle me as to why Palpatine would create him at all. What's the point of leaving your storehouse full of cloning tanks, cloaking shields and other assorted trinkets in the hands of a mad Jedi Master Clone? Wouldn't an elite battalion of Royal Guards or Noghri be a better choice?. C'baoth clearly doesn't do his job, he lets Thrawn into the Mountain without a second thought.

    All of the items Thrawn locates in the Mountain are critical to his war effort, but he doesn't seem to do a full inventory, as I'd have expected him to. Perhaps it's his single-minded drive for victory. He's here just for the three things, a Jedi Master, the cloaking shield and the Spaarti cylinders. But who know what else the Emperor kept at Wayland, there could be any number of useful items that would help Thrawn even more. This lack of greed is something that comes back to bite Thrawn, as there a few things in that mountain that could have been very useful to him.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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  25. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Force Ghost star 9

    Sep 2, 2012
    Zahn didn't seem to think so:

    "My original reasoning was just what’s laid out here: that whomever Palpatine had left to guard his storehouse had been killed by Joruus C’baoth when he somehow stumbled on the place."

    and apparently the Complete Star Wars Encyclopaedia specifically mentions the Guardian as a separate character from C'baoth.

    That said, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that he was created there, escaped from custody, and murdered the Guardian before taking over the planet.
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