Multiple storylines, multiple time lines - oh how I dislike putting these together
So Johnny isn’t exactly thrilled that his brother, D’avin, has abandoned him, again. He’s quite upset - while Dutch is all super focused at following Khlyen’s plan. Honestly she feels almost blase about D’avin not being there and the idea of waiting to pick him up feels less like urgency and more like unhealthy obsession
What she does feel is hurt - it’s clear the idea that D’avin thinks she’s literally too damaged to be around his son has hurt her pretty badly.
If it’s a choice between Dutch and, well, anyone, Johnny is going to go with Dutch and follow the path to the Pulsar. Which turns out to be a Black Hole which is super bad and dangerous and everyone’s going to die so we’re going to get all emotional about this. Apparently. C’mon, no-one’s dying here
Nope they’re not because it’s a special hidden place in a fake Black Hole with a planet which Dutch goes to explore. The planet has some spooky people in leather with glowy spears who are all hostile until Dutch introduces herself as Khlyen’s daughter
And yes, that is the first time she’s ever said this.
Meanwhile Johnny is dealing with another big spear guy who wants to stab him repeatedly and Johnny has to be saved by Lucy and a whole lot of snarking
Dutch follows the path to a chamber with a cryo-pod in it. It opens and inside is the fake-assassin-woman from her message-dream-visions… She is Yeleena Kin Rit
Yes we need some flashbacks here to 250 years ago, because Yeleena Kin Rit is Aneela’s mother (so kinda sorta Dutch’s mother?) and one of the ten families. Yes, ten, not the nine - because Kin Rit (the surname Delle Sayah has given Jaq) was one of those families. The head of them, in fact
She has tracked down her husband, Khlyen (yes, Aneela’s actual father not just metaphorical here) with her squad of soldiers because he and Aneela have gone silent and she is Not Having it. Even though we only know Yaleena for only a short while, it’s abundantly clear that if she is Not Having Something then it will not stand
Seeing that Yaleena does not take no for an answer, Khlyen takes her to see Aneela - and Aneela is not in a good place. Newly Hullened she is experimenting on bodies and there is blood and viscera and it’s like watching a child play serial killer. Needless to say Yaleena is pretty shaken by this and wants an explanation. Khlyen tries to explain how it’s a voice in her head called the Lady that appeared and it’s all bad but he can fix it. He just has to go off alone
Guess how willing Yaleena is willing to let him run off alone?
They travel together with Yaleena making it clear she has definitely missed Khlyen, both as a partner and because he is politically really really good at all the machinations with the vicious noble families.
They arrive on the planet and Yaleena struggles. The air is extremely thin and she’s gasping for breath. Khlyen is untouched. The pulsar was so bright it made Yaleena flinch. Khlyen was unaffected
Yaleena is no fool and demands to know what happened - clearly Aneela isn’t the only one changed. He makes a sudden move and she shoots him. Yes Yaleena doesn’t take prisoners
Except it doesn’t hurt him of course and she was, what she describes as, a sudden nap
She wakes up and they get to talk and explain the Hullneness - including the lack of emotion which is why the, apparently, warm and loving Khlyen is now so cold to her even when she’s in emotional distress. He has a plan - this is THE original goo pool. We know that if you use the Hullen-Killing compound in a goo pool it kills all the Hullen that came from that pool. If they kill this pool then this will destroy the Hullen - and the lady - entirely
And him and Aneela
Yaleena vetoes that idea. She thinks they’re giving up far too soon - and Khlyen needs to get out there and fight before going for the last resort. She will stay in the cryo-pod with the compound and if all hope is lost, she will destroy the pool.
And now to the present with Dutch explaining Khlyen is dead and just a memory in the green and Yaleena thinks all hope is lost
There’s a struggle, drugging, locking in crypods but eventually Dutch invokes family - Yaleena, as Aneela’s mother, is Dutch’s family. And she urges Yaleena not to give up on her. Yaleena agrees - and gives Dutch the compound. While she… hangs around the pool? Without the Compound? What’s she going to do? Sass anyone who comes out the green?
She does have a message for Dutch - if she can’t do the impossible (save them all) she must do the honourable (kill Aneela if she can’t save her)
Dutch is free to rejoin Johnny, who has arranged their escape and prepare for the next stage - but not before they hear D’avin is in trouble and needs help. Time for a rescue - especially since Dutch gained a new confidence in herself: yes she was damaged but she was not broken. She has more roots and it’s strengthened her.
Now back to the RAC where Pree, guided by Turin, rescues Gared. Some goons are trying to beat him up for his boots. Pree takes off his earrings
Always be afraid when a warlord takes out his earrings.
He and Gared reunite with lots of kissing and I’m here for this -more Gared and Pree. Please. Alas there’s a mission to escape - and Pree is quick to remind Turin he’s a warlord every single time he doubts him
There they discover that the Hullena re up to some seriously evil nastiness, are holding the kids - and are draining Hullen for green to create a pool which Dutch hasn’t turned to crystal. A puddle the Lady can come through
Gared, the big gentle lug, wants to rescue the kids but Pree is strategic - they must come back with an army. Except first they need to escape
Which is provided by Weej - who has been struggling with Turin and his idea of not just sacrificing 2 people and the whole concept of someone being “your people”. Turin decides to run in to help them - so Weej knocks him out and go himself. The Ex-Hullen is learning :) and proves his non Hullenness with smiling and swearing. Of course
With them rescued, everyone gets together to plan their next step
While I'm revelling in all the glorious back story! And why oh why didn't they bring Yaleena with them? She would have been awesome. We could have had her and Delle Sayah together!
I hope Weej appears more - and is part of the key to dehullenising people rather than just treating Hullen as disposable victims