Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader are dead. The Empire has been toppled by the triumphant Rebel Alliance, and the New Republic is ascendant. But the struggle against the dark side and the Sith Order is not over. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and their faithful comrades have had little time to savor victory before being called on to defend the newly liberated galaxy.
Powerful remnants of the vanquished Empire, hungry for retaliation, are still at large, committing acts of piracy, terrorism, and wholesale slaughter against the worlds of the fledgling New Republic. The most deadly of these, a ruthless legion of black-armored Stormtroopers, do the brutal bidding of the newly risen warlord Shadowspawn. Striking from a strategically advantageous base on the planet Mindor, they are waging a campaign of plunder and destruction, demolishing order and security across the galaxy–and breeding fears of an Imperial resurgence. Another reign of darkness beneath the boot-heel of Sith despotism is something General Luke Skywalker cannot, and will not, risk.
Mobilizing the ace fighters of Rogue Squadron–along with the trusty Chewbacca, See-Threepio, and Artoo-Detoo–Luke, Han, and Leia set out to take the battle to the enemy and neutralize the threat before it’s too late. But their imminent attack on Mindor will be playing directly into the hands of their cunning new adversary. Lord Shadowspawn is no freshly anointed Sith Chieftain but in fact a vicious former Imperial Intelligence officer–and Prophet of the Dark Side. The Emperor’s death has paved the way for Shadowspawn’s return from exile in the Outer Rim, and mastery of ancient Sith knowledge and modern technology has given him the capability to mount the ultimate power play for galaxy wide dominion. Dark prophecy has foretold that only one obstacle stands in his way, and he is ready–even eager–for the confrontation.
All the classic heroes, all the explosive action and adventure, all the unparalleled excitement of Star Wars come breathlessly alive as the adventures of Luke Skywalker continue.
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Matthew Stover is the New York Times bestselling author of the Star Wars novels Revenge of the Sith, Shatterpoint, and The New Jedi Order: Traitor, as well as Caine Black Knife, The Blade of Tyshalle, and Heroes Die. He is an expert in several martial arts. Stover lives outside Chicago.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Corellian Queen was a legend: the greatest luxury liner ever to ply the spaceways, an interstellar pleasure palace forever beyond the grasp of all but the galaxy’s super-elite—beings whose wealth transcended description. Rumor had it that for the price of a single cocktail in one of the Queen’s least- exclusive dining clubs, one might buy a starship; for the price of a meal, one could buy not only the starship, but the port in which it docked, and the factory that had built it. A being could not simply pay for a berth on the Corellian Queen; mere wealth would never suffice. To embark upon the ultimate journey into hedonistic excess, one first had to demonstrate that one’s breeding and manners were as exquisite as would be the pain of paying one’s bar bill. All of which made the Corellian Queen one of the most irresistible terrorist targets ever: who better to terrorize than the elite of the Elite, the Powers among the powerful, the greatest of the Great?
And so when some presumably unscrupulous routing clerk in the
vast midreaches of the Nebula Line corporation quietly offered for
sale, to select parties from Kindlabethia to Nar Shaddaa, a hint as to
the route of the Corellian Queen’s upcoming cruise, it attracted considerable interest.
Two pertinent facts remained concealed, however, from the winning
bidder. The first pertinent fact was that this presumably unscrupulous
routing clerk was neither unscrupulous nor, in fact, a
routing clerk, but was a skilled and resourceful agent of the intelligence
service of the New Republic. The second pertinent fact was
that the Corellian Queen was not cruising at all that season, having
been replaced by a breakaway disposable shell built to conceal a substantial fraction of a star fighter wing, led by—as was customary in such operations—the crack pilots of Rogue Squadron.
It was approximately the moment that R4-G7 squalled a proximity
alarm through his X-wing’s sensor panel and his HUD lit up
with image codes for six TIE Defenders on his tail that Lieutenant
Derek “Hobbie” Klivian, late of the Alliance to Restore Freedom to
the Galaxy, currently of the New Republic, began to suspect that
Commander Antilles’s brilliant ambush had never been brilliant at
all, not even a little, and he said so. In no uncertain terms. Stripped
of its blistering profanity, his comment was “Wedge? This plan was
stupid. You hear me? Stupid, stupid, stuYOW—!”
The yow was a product of multiple cannon hits that disintegrated
his right dorsal cannon and most of the extended wing it had been
attached to. This kicked his fighter into a tumble that he fought with
both hands on the yoke and both feet kicking attitude jets and almost
had under control until the pair of the Defenders closest on his tail
blossomed into expanding spheres of flame and debris fragments.
The twin shock fronts overtook him at exactly the wrong instant and
sent him flipping end- over- end straight at another Defender formation
streaking toward him head- on. Then tail- on, then head- on
again, and so forth.
His ship’s comlink crackled as Wedge Antilles’s fighter flashed
past him close enough that he could see the grin on the commander’s
face. “That’s ‘stupid plan, sir,’ Lieutenant.”
“I suppose you think that’s funny.”
“Well, if he doesn’t,” put in Hobbie’s wingman, “I sure do.”
“When I want your opinion, Janson, I’ll dust your ship and scan
for it in the wreckage.” The skewed whirl of stars around his cockpit
gave his stomach a yank that threatened to make the slab of smoked
terrafin loin he’d had for breakfast violently reemerge. Struggling
grimly with the controls, he managed to angle his ship’s whirl just a
hair, which let him twitch his ship’s nose toward the four pursuing
marauders as he spun. Red fire lashed from his three surviving
cannons, and the Defenders’ formation split open like an overripe
Hobbie only dusted one with the cannons, but the pair of
proximity- fused flechette torpedoes he had thoughtfully triggered at
the same time flared in diverging arcs to intercept the enemy fighters;
these torpedo arcs terminated in spectacular explosions that
cracked the three remaining Defenders like rotten snuffle eggs.
“Now, that was satisfying,” he said, still fighting his controls to
stabilize the crippled X-wing. “Eyeball soufflé!”
“Better watch it, Hobbie—keep that up, and somebody might start to
think you can fly that thing.”
“Are you in this fight, Janson? Or are you just gonna hang back
and smirk while I do all the heavy lifting?”
“Haven’t decided yet.” Wes Janson’s X-wing came out of nowhere,
streaking in a tight bank across Hobbie’s subjective vertical. “Maybe
I can lend a hand. Or, say, a couple torps.”
Two brilliant blue stars leapt from Janson’s torpedo tubes and
streaked for the oncoming TIEs.
“Uh, Wes?” Hobbie said, flinching. “Those weren’t the flechette
torps, were they?”
“Sure. What else?”
“Have you noticed that I’m currently having just a little trouble
“What do you mean?” Janson asked as though honestly puzzled.
Then, after a second spent watching Hobbie’s ship tumbling helplessly
directly toward his torpedoes’ targets, he said, “Oh. Uh . . .sorry?”
The flechette torpedoes carried by Rogue Squadron had been designed
and built specifically for this operation, and they had one primary
purpose: to take out TIE Defenders.
The TIE Defender was the Empire’s premier space- superiority
fighter. It was faster and more maneuverable than the Incom T-65
(better known as the X-wing); faster even than the heavily modified
and updated 65Bs of Rogue Squadron. The Defender was also more
heavily armed, packing twin ion cannons to supplement its lasers, as
well as dual- use launch tubes that could fire either proton torpedoes
or concussion missiles. The shields generated by its twin Novaldex
deflector generators were nearly as powerful as those found on capital
ships. However, the Defenders were not equipped with particle
shields, depending instead on their titanium- reinforced hull to absorb
the impact of material objects.
Each proton torpedo shell had been loaded with thousands of tiny
jagged bits of durasteel, packed around a core of conventional explosive.
On detonation, these tiny bits of durasteel became an expanding
sphere of shrapnel; though traveling with respectable velocity of
their own, they were most effective when set off in the path of oncoming
Defenders, because impact energy, after all, is determined by
relative velocity. At star fighter combat speeds, flying into a cloud of
durasteel pellets could transform one’s ship from a star fighter into a
very, very expensive cheese grater.
The four medial fighters of the oncoming Defender formation hit
the flechette cloud and just . . . shredded. The lateral wingers managed
to bank off an instant before they would have been overtaken
by two sequential detonations, as the explosion of one Defender’s
power core triggered the other three’s cores an eyeblink later, so that
the unfortunate Lieutenant Klivian was now tumbling directly
toward a miniature plasma nebula that blazed with enough hard radiation
to cook him like a bantha steak on an obsidian fry- rock at
double noon on Tatooine.
“You’re not gonna make it, Hobbie,” Janson called. “Punch out.”
“Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Hobbie snarled under his
breath, still struggling grimly with the X-wing’s controls. The
fighter’s tumble began to slow. “I’ve got it, Wes!”
“No, you don’t! Punch out, Hobbie—PUNCH OUT!”
“I’ve got it—I’m gonna make it! I’m gonna—” He was interrupted
by the final flip of his X- wing, which brought his nose into line with
the sight of the leading edge of the spherical debris field expanding
toward him at a respectable fraction of lightspeed, and Hobbie Klivian,
acknowledged master of both profanity and obscenity, human
and otherwise, not to mention casual vulgarities from a dozen
species and hundreds of star systems, found he had nothing to say
except, “Aw, nuts.”
He stood the X- wing on its tail, sublights blasting for a tangent,
but he had learned long ago that of all the Rogues, he was the one
who should know better than to trust his luck. He reached for the
Just as his hand found the trigger, the ship jounced and clanged as
if he had his head trapped inside a Wookiee dinner gong at nightmeal.
The metaphorical Wookiee cook must have been hungry, too,
because the clanging went on and on and kept getting louder, and
the eject still, mysteriously, didn’t seem to be working at all. This
mystery was solved, however, by the brief shriek of atmosphere
through a ragged fist- sized hole in the X- wing’s canopy. This hole
was ragged because, Hobbie discovered, the fragment that had made
this opening had been slowed by punching through the X- wing’s
titanium- alloy ventral armor. Not to mention the X- wing’s control
panel, where it had not on...
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