Reunion. Sean Williams and Shane Dix (Star Wars) (v. 3)

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9780099410393: Reunion. Sean Williams and Shane Dix (Star Wars) (v. 3)

The Jedi move one step closer to saving the embattled galaxy-only to confront a formidable wall of resistance.... The harrowing search for Zonama Sekot if finally over for Luke Skywalker, Jacen Solo, and others aboard the Jade Shado. But joy turns to alarm when the living planet sends a defiant message: it refuses to follow them back to a galaxy full of war, exploitation, and misery. While Luke works feverishly to persuade the elusive planet to reconsider, the Yuuzhan Vong launch a full- scale attack aimed at the heart of the new alliance. Sent to defend a major communicating base, Han and Leia find themselves hopelessly outnumbered. Reinforcements are just too far away to help before everything is destroyed. So the courageous pair must now fight an unrelenting battle against staggering odds. Whether they actually survive is another matter....

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About the Author:

Sean Williams and Shane Dix are the best-selling and award-winning co-authors of the Evergence series; their latest novel. Echoes of Earth was published in January 2002 (the sequel, Orphans of Earth is due in January 2003). Individually, both have numerous short story credits to their names, and Sean is a successful author in his own right. His novels include Metal Fatigue and The Resurrected Man; his fantasy series, The Books of Change, will conclude December 2002.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Leia literally took a backseat during the flight to Esfandia. Trying to compete with her husband and Droma was too exhausting, and, ultimately, pointless. At times it seemed their affinity wasn’t entirely amicable, but it was perfectly natural. They’d hardly stopped talking since the Ryn had come aboard. Bringing each other up to date on events since they’d parted at Fondor, they covered everything from sneaky tactics to Anakin’s death. After the latter, Droma had left the bridge for a while, to sing a plaintive lay in a language Leia didn’t understand, but then he’d returned with a story about one of his exploits in the Senex sector. The tale was as tall as a Bolenian hillspinner,
but it served its purpose by easing the pall of melancholy that had engulfed the Falcon.

“So they started taking apart the tanker module,” Han
was saying now, relating one of his own stories to Droma,
his mood far removed from the grief that had consumed
him earlier.

“Which you said was filled with liquid hydrogen.”

“Yeah, but destroying the tanker didn’t stop the hydrogen.
If anything, it spread out a little, exactly as
planned.”

“Why?” Droma asked, frowning. “Hydrogen won’t
burn without oxygen.”
“That’s what Goldenrod said. That’s the trouble with
droids: no imagination. As our shields failed, I told Leia
and Jacen to punch holes through the cruiser’s hull with
our quads. Before I could tell those scarheads to eat ions,
there was more than enough oxygen for the hydrogen to
react with. The cruiser went up so fast we had a tough
time dodging the pieces. After that, it was just a matter of
getting out of there. The few skips we left behind weren’t
putting up much of a fight.”

“Understandably. I hear Vong skips are useless once
they’re cut off from their yammosks.”

“Well, they’re not completely useless,” Han said, “but
it does give you an advantage.”

Droma shrugged. “Speaking of yammosks, I’ve heard
some stories about them that would make your tail stand
on end!”

Leia listened to the banter but offered nothing toward
the conversation. Instead, she concentrated on the information
Droma had provided them: communications had
indeed been lost with the Unknown Regions. The destruction
of the base on Generis and the attack on Esfandia appeared
to be the source of the disruption. A free-floating
proto-world, Esfandia had long since cut free from whatever
star had given birth to it, but still had enough radioactivity
bubbling in its core to sustain a liquid atmosphere.
It wasn’t the most hospitable of places, but it didn’t need
to be. A skeleton crew of about a dozen people, mainly
technicians, normally inhabited the relay outpost, which
had been hastily converted from a scientific station at
the beginning of the war with the Yuuzhan Vong. Since
Luke’s mission had entered the Unknown Regions, the
Galactic Alliance’s military presence around Esfandia had
been upgraded to two squadrons of X-wings and a frigate
by the name of Corellian Way. What had happened to
those forces was unknown. The relay staff only had time
to broadcast a message alerting their superiors on Mon
Calamari that they were under attack by the Yuuzhan
Vong before all communications had been lost.

That wasn’t necessarily a sure sign of disaster. The
relay base was designed to resist such attacks. Imperial
AT-AT technology had been adapted to the cold soup of
Esfandia’s environment, creating a giant, mechanical, crablike
construction capable of moving from place to place
at a slow but steady pace. Such mobility was an advantage,
given that most of the world was studded with
receivers sensitive enough to detect transmissions from
deep in the Unknown Regions. The base was designed to
circumnavigate the globe, maintaining the receivers, while
the technicians remained safely inside. That the ability to
move made it easier to hide when attacked was a bonus.

The base, therefore, could have simply gone to ground,
tucked away in a crevasse or under the thick silt of the atmospheric
soup. If it could be found, it could be reactivated.
Assuming, of course, that the Yuuzhan Vong hadn’t
found it first and destroyed it for good.

Leia sent her thoughts outward, far beyond her location
in hyperspace, beyond Esfandia and whatever awaited
them there, to her brother, Luke. The last message Cal
Omas had received from him suggested he’d found a
promising lead and was setting off to investigate. He
hadn’t specified what that lead consisted of or where he
was headed, and now there was no way they would know
unless they repaired the communications outage. Leia
had no doubt that, were anything terrible to happen to
him, then she would know about it. She would feel it,
just as she had in the past. Nevertheless, she was concerned.
So much was invested in his mission—personally,
and on a galactic scale—that if something were to go
wrong, it would be a disaster of unimaginable proportions.

The conversation between her husband and his old
friend shifted as the Falcon’s console began to beep and
flash, announcing that they were nearing their destination.

“Right on the nose,” Han said proudly, flipping switches
in readiness for the return to realspace.

“And we didn’t even have to get out and push,”
Droma said dryly.

“Yeah, that’s real amusing,” Han returned without
smiling. “Now you want to move your funny, fuzzedup
self out of that chair so Leia can come forward and
help me?”

“No, that’s all right, Han,” she said as Droma began
to stand. “I’m sure Droma can manage.”

She couldn’t say that she was enjoying the break from
routine, but it was interesting to watch Han’s interaction
with the Ryn. Memories of the terrible time when Han
had pulled away from her while grieving for Chewbacca
still stung, but only Droma had witnessed how low Han
had really sunk back then. If having the Ryn aboard did
remind Han of those painful times, he certainly wasn’t
letting it show.

“You remember how to operate the copilot’s board?”

Han asked Droma without looking up from what he was
doing.

“Follow orders, and curse when something goes
wrong,” Droma replied with a smile. “Which it invariably
does.”

Han affected an indignant expression on behalf of his
beloved freighter. “Hey, she may be old—”
“But she’s still got it where it counts, right?” Droma
said.

“What have I told you about doing that?” Han said
irritably.

Droma laughed. “Anyway, it’s not the age of the ship
that worries me,” he said, flicking a couple of switches of
his own. “It’s the age of the pilot I’m more concerned
about.”

The navicomputer bleeped, cutting off any retort Han
might have been about to offer. Both faced the front just
as the sweeping streaks of hyperspace dissolved into a
cold and distant starscape. There was no primary to dim
the stars with its glare; the nearest inhabited system in
this section of the Mid Rim was more than ten light years
away, and the nearest star of any kind was half that
distance. There was nothing for trillions of kilometers
but space dust, and the tiny bauble that was the lonely
world of Esfandia.

Or so it should have been. As Pride of Selonia along
with Twin Suns Squadron emerged from hyperspace alongside
the Falcon, Droma’s eyes checked the sensor console
for the orphaned planet. The Falcon’s sensor suite was
still ahead of standard tech, and it soon acquired the target.
It was covered with thick clouds, and glowed a burnt
orange in artificial colors that looked wrong to Leia’s
eyes until she realized what was missing: because Esfandia
had no sun, its sole source of heat lay at its core. And
with no orbit to follow, that meant it would have no seasons,
either—which in turn meant no icy poles, and no
broiling equator. It would be the same temperature all
over.

Closer scans, however, revealed that not to be entirely
the case. There were at least six hot spots on the hemisphere
facing them, and even as they watched, another
blossomed into life.

Droma zoomed in closer to examine the cause.

“Aerial bombardment,” he said. “Someone’s dropping
mines from orbit.”

“They’re taking out the sensors,” Leia said. “The Yuuzhan
Vong are still here!”

Han’s eyes darted across the displays in front of him.

“I’ve got a strong presence in close orbit. Seven capital
vessels, nine cruisers. Not many skips detached, though.
No sign of the local defenses, or the reinforcements from
Mon Cal.”

“I think I can guess why not, too,” Droma commented.

Leia knew exactly what he meant. The Yuuzhan Vong
force in orbit over Esfandia was enormous by any standard.
Against the two squadrons and one frigate Esfandia
had possessed, plus the two squadrons Mon Calamari
had dispatched to investigate, it was almost obscene.
Overkill didn’t cover it.

“I thought the Vong’s resources were stretched,” Droma
said.

Han just grunted. A crackle of information flowed
across newly reopened communications lines. Captain
Mayn and Jag were looking for instructions.

...

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