Starfighters of Adumar
|1 August 1999|
|Preceded by||Planet of Twilight|
|Followed by||The Crystal Star|
The planet of Adumar is an anomaly, settled by anonymous colonists during the early years of the Old Republic and isolated ever since. But now it has been discovered. The Adumari love pilots, so the New Republic's best snubfighter jock, General Wedge Antilles, is dispatched as a diplomat, along with three of Rogue Squadron's finest: taciturn Colonel Tycho Celchu, pessimist Major Derek "Hobbie" Klivian and child-at-heart extraordinaire Major Wes Janson. They are also aided by native guide and sword-fighting champion Cheriss ke Hanadi, New Republic diplomat and former Y-wing pilot Tomer Darpen, and New Republic Documentarian Hallis Saper, who wears a second head (the head of a 3PO protocol droid which she uses as a camera).
Wedge assumes that he will somehow hammer out a treaty and bring the planet of Adumar into the New Republic, but it becomes quickly apparent that all is not as it seems. Firstly, the Empire's best pilot, General Turr Phennir, and three of his best are here too. Secondly, Adumar is not a united planet, and right now Wedge is only talking to its largest nation, Cartann. Thirdly, the Cartannese seem to like nothing better than killing each other for bragging rights, and Wedge is expected to join in—especially since they try to kill him for bragging rights too. (Phennir seems to have no problem with it.) Fourthly, a certain woman whom Wedge is acquainted with, Iella Wessiri, is on-planet as a New Republic Intelligence operative and has been so for the past six months—despite the fact that, supposedly, Adumar was only discovered a few weeks ago. (It also doesn't help that Wedge would like to be a little more than friends with her.) All in all, Wedge has his work cut out for him.
Red Squadron spends its time learning to fly the native Blade-32 fighters, absorbing Adumari (or at least Cartannese) culture, and contemplating their largest diplomatic problem: the fact that Adumar is not united under a world government, and cannot enter the New Republic. The Empire, on the other hand, would have absolutely no problem simply conquering it and imposing a government. Thus, Wedge is delighted when Cartann's leader, Perator Pekaelic ke Teldan, announces the formation of a world government. Unfortunately, Pekaelic intends to create it via conquest. He also wants the Empire's and New Republic's diplomats to assist in the war effort. Phennir agrees, but Wedge, unwilling to compromise the New Republic's ideals, refuses. Between this and Tomer Darpen's willingness to sacrifice Wedge to preserve relations with Cartann, Wedge and his wingmen are forced to run "the gauntlet", braving mobs of citizens and pilots eager to kill them for honor, in order to escape with their lives.
Wedge and his wingmen, as well as Iella, Cheriss and Hallis Saper, flee to the capital of the Yedagon Confederacy, one of the few nations that continues to resist Cartannese domination. There, Wedge is presented with a proposal: to lead the combined might of the "rebellious" nations in a military effort to overthrow Cartannese imperialism. Several nations that had previously bowed to Cartann defect to the newly formed "Adumari Union" on the strength of Wedge's reputation, and Wedge ultimately leads an air force only half as strong as Cartann's, but far better led and disciplined. After an indecisive air battle, Red Squadron (with Cheriss's help) are able to reclaim their X-wings and neutralize Phennir and his TIE interceptors; the tide thus turned, Cartann is defeated and joins the Adumari Union. Negotiations with the New Republic begin immediately. The Imperials, bitter over their loss, send a fleet to take Adumar by force, but a combined New Republic and Adumari fleet manages to repel them. With the conflict on Adumar over, Wedge and Iella spend a romantic moment with each other, putting a positive note on their future relationship.
The novel is noted for author Aaron Allston's use of humour. Allston often characterizes the four pilots through their joking styles: Tycho with occasional and devastating one-liners, Hobbie with pessimistic backtalk, Janson with constant irreverencies, and Wedge as the smirking straight man.