Authors: Kevin Hearne
Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 by Lucasfilm Ltd. &
or TM where indicated. All rights reserved. Excerpt from
Star Wars: Lords of the Sith
by Paul S. Kemp copyright © 2015 by Lucasfilm Ltd. &
or TM where indicated. All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
and the H
colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.
This book contains an excerpt from
Star Wars: Lords of the Sith
by Paul S. Kemp. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.
eBook ISBN 978-0-345-54487-2
Jacket design: Scott Biel
Jacket art: Larry Rostant
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
The destruction of the Death Star brought new hope to the beleaguered Rebel Alliance. But the relentless pursuit by Darth Vader and the Imperial fleet is taking its toll on Alliance resources. Now the rebels hide in an Outer Rim orbit from which they can search for a more permanent base and for new allies to supply much-needed weapons and materiel
Luke Skywalker, hero of the Battle of Yavin, has cast his lot with the rebels, lending his formidable piloting skills to whatever missions his leaders assign him. But he is haunted by his all-too-brief lessons with Obi-Wan Kenobi and the growing certainty that mastery of the Force will be his path to victory over the Empire
Adrift without Old Ben’s mentorship, determined to serve the Rebellion any way he can, Luke searches for ways to improve his skills in the Force …
THERE’S NO ONE AROUND
to answer all my questions now that Ben’s gone. It’s a stark fact that reasserts itself each time I wonder what I’m supposed to do now. That brown robe he wore might as well have been made of pure mystery; he clothed himself in it and then left nothing else behind on the Death Star. I know Han likes to scoff at the idea of the Force, but when a man’s body simply disappears at the touch of a lightsaber, that’s more than “simple tricks and nonsense.”
And I know the Force is real. I’ve felt it.
I still feel it, actually, but I think it’s like knowing there’s something hidden in the sand while you’re skimming above it. You see ripples on the surface, hints that something is moving down there—maybe something small, maybe something huge—living a completely different life out of your sight. And going after it to see what’s underneath the surface might be safe and rewarding,
or it might be the last thing you ever do. I need someone to tell me when to dive into those ripples and when to back off.
I thought I heard Ben’s voice a couple of times during the Battle of Yavin, but I’m wondering now if that really happened. Maybe I only thought it did; maybe that was my subconscious speaking to me—a kind of wishful thinking. He’s been silent since, and I don’t feel I can talk to anyone else about the Force. My confidants at this point consist of one blue-and-white astromech droid.
Han and Chewie are off somewhere trying to earn enough credits to pay off Jabba the Hutt. They lost all their reward money from the Battle of Yavin and they’re back to being broke and desperate—the galaxy should beware.
Leia is cloistered with the leaders of the Alliance in the fleet, which is currently hiding in the Sujimis sector around an ice planet no one has paid any attention to since the Clone Wars. Not that she would want to hear about my worries any more than I would like to speak them. She has much more important things to do than to waste time putting a bandage on my insecurities. Threepio is with her, no doubt feeling unappreciated for his predictions of imminent doom in over six million forms of communication. That leaves Artoo and me free to run an errand for Admiral Ackbar.
I’ve been dispatched to Rodia in an effort to open a secret supply line to the Alliance. I’m not supposed to call it smuggling—Ackbar has serious issues with the very concept, but the truth is the Alliance can’t operate without it. Since the Empire is trying to shut down our lines of supply in the Outer Rim by going after smugglers’ dens, and the established black markets in the Core are a bit too risky for us to employ, we have to look for other sources to exploit. Rodia is under Imperial control, but Leia suggested that the Chekkoo clan on the Betu continent might be open to working with us. She said they despise the ruling Chattza clan and are highly skilled at manufacturing
weapons, armor, and other hardware we could use to fight the Empire. Leia was betting they’d defy the Empire to spite the Chattza clan, and we stood to benefit. Mon Mothma was unsure of the idea, but Ackbar surprised everyone and weighed in with Leia, and that decided it.
I don’t know what it is about Ackbar that tends to quash arguments. He has a kind of moist charisma, I guess, that no one wants to challenge. I know I don’t want to dispute him, anyway.
Once it was agreed, I volunteered for the mission, and they loaned me a beautiful personal yacht to fly in. My X-wing would set off all kinds of alarms if I dared to enter Rodian space in it, but a small transport with minimal weapons would be no big deal. Both Artoo and I whistled when we first saw it in the docking bay of the
, one of the Alliance’s frigates. It was less of a yacht and more of a showpiece.
Painted a metallic red and trimmed in silver, the cockpit and living quarters of the ship sat forward and the wings swept back in an unbroken arc, like a half-moon thinking about going crescent. The rear end looked a bit like someone had taken a bite out of a cookie, and it was packed with big sublight engines, jammers, sensor arrays, and shield generators. The power was all invisible from the front or the sides—it spoke of luxury and decadence—but the back told anyone pursuing that they wouldn’t be keeping up for very long. It was built for speed and quite possibly spying while doing its best to look like a rich person’s pleasure craft.
“Nice, isn’t she?” a voice said, causing me to tear my eyes away. “That’s the
. You fly her safely, now.” The speaker was a tall woman with dark skin and a cascade of tightly curled ringlets framing a narrow face. She gave me a friendly smile and I smiled back.
“Is she yours?” I asked.
“Yep! Well, I guess I should say she’s my father’s. But both his ship and his daughter are at the disposal of the Alliance now.
Just got here last week.” She extended a hand. “Nakari Kelen. Glad to meet you.”
“Kelen?” I said, taking her hand and shaking it. She had a strong grip, and I tilted my head to the side as I connected her name and the ship’s to a memory. “Any relation to the Kelen Biolabs on Pasher?”
Her eyes widened. “Yes! Fayet Kelen is my father. Are you from Pasher?”
“No, I’m from Tatooine.”
“Ah, another desert planet. So you understand all about my fascination with ships and how they can take me far away from home.”
“Yeah, I understand that very well. I’m Luke Skywalker.”
“Oh, I know who you are,” she said, finally letting her hand slip from mine. “They told me you’d be taking my ship out for some kind of spooky mission, but no one told me you hailed from Tatooine.”
“Ha. It’s not really spooky. Kind of a boring business trip, in fact, but this looks like it will prevent any Imperials from thinking I’m with the Alliance.”
“I should hope so. My baby’s classy and elegant and ill disposed to rebellion.”
“Hey, speaking of ill disposed, mind if I ask you something?”
Nakari nodded once, inviting me to proceed.
“I’ve always wondered why your dad chose Pasher for his biolabs. You’d think a jungle planet would be better suited simply because there’s more actual biology there.”
She shrugged. “He started small and local. The poison and glands of sandstone scorpions and spine spiders turned out to have medical applications.” She chucked her chin at the
. “Very profitable applications.”
“What did you do on Tatooine?”
“Moisture farming. Spectacularly dull. Some weeks were so
boring that I actually looked forward to going into Tosche Station to pick up some … power converters. Huh!”
“I just remembered I never did pick up my last shipment. Wonder if they’re still there.”
“We all have unfinished business, don’t we?” That was an unexpected turn to the conversation, and I wondered what she meant by it. I wondered why she was there at all, frankly. The comfortably wealthy rarely stir themselves to get involved in rebellions. But I had to admit she wasn’t dressed like the privileged child of a biotech magnate. She wore desert camo fatigues tucked into thick-soled brown boots, a blaster strapped to her left hip, and what looked like a compact slug rifle strapped to her back, held in place by a leather band crossing diagonally across her torso.
I flicked a finger at the rifle. “You hunt sandstone scorpions with that?”
“Yep. Can’t use a blaster on them. Their armor deflects heat too well.”
“I’d heard that.”
“And since so many people are wearing blaster armor these days, a throwback weapon that punches through it is surprisingly effective if you know how to shoot one.”
“Hunt anything else?”
“Of course. I’ve been to Tatooine, actually, and bagged a krayt dragon there. Its pearls paid for the upgrades on the
. She’s still Dad’s ship, but I’ve modified her quite a bit, and I hope to have the credits soon to buy her from him outright. Come on, I’ll show you.”