Authors: Michael Reaves
Star Wars: Death Star
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the 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 © 2007 by Lucasfilm Ltd. & ® or TM where indicated.
All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization.
Published in the United States by Del Rey, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
is a registered trademark and the Del Rey colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.
Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Del Rey, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., in 2007.
For Dianne, as always
and for the new grandkid, Nate
We’d like to thank the usual crew for aiding and abetting: Shelly Shapiro, Keith Clayton, Betsy Mitchell, Sue Rostoni, Leland Chee, Steve Sansweet, and all the folks at Del Rey and Lucasfilm. And especially George Lucas, who made up this wonderful world and allowed us to play in it again.
Imperial Navy commander, Chief Librarian (human male)
convicted smuggler (Zelosian male)
Imperial Navy admiral (human male)
Imperial Navy admiral (human female)
Dark Lord of the Sith (human male)
Imperial Surgical Corps captain (human male)
pub tender (Twi’lek female)
Imperial Marines guard sergeant (human male)
bouncer (Ragithian human male)
architect, convict (Mirialan female)
Imperial Navy master chief gunnery officer (human male)
Imperial Navy lieutenant (human male)
Imperial Navy Grand Moff (human male)
“That’s no moon. It’s a space station.”
he alert siren screamed, a piercing wail that couldn’t be ignored by any being on board with ears and a pulse. It had one thing to say, and it said it loud and clear:
Lieutenant Commander Villian “Vil” Dance came out of a deep sleep at the blaring alarm, sat up, and leapt from his rack to the expanded metal deck of the Ready Room quarters. Save for the helmet, he already wore his space suit, one of the first things an on-call TIE pilot learned to do was sleep in full battle gear. He ran for the door, half a step ahead of the next pilot to awaken. He grabbed his headgear, darted into the hall and turned to the right, then sprinted for the launching bay.
It could be a drill; there had been plenty of those lately to keep the pilots on their toes. But maybe this time it wasn’t. One could always hope.
Vil ran into the assembly area. A-grav on the flight deck was kept at slightly below one g, so that the pilots, all of whom were human or humanoid, could move a little faster and get to their stations a little sooner. The smell of launch lube was acrid in the cold air, and the pulsing lights painted the area in bright, primary flashes. Techs scrambled, getting the TIE fighters to final-set for takeoff, while pilots ran
toward the craft. Vil noticed that it was just his squad being scrambled. Must not be a big problem, whatever it was.
Command always said it didn’t matter which unit you got. TIE fighters were all the same, down to the last nut and bolt, but even so, every pilot had his or her favorite ship. You weren’t supposed to personalize them, of course, but there were ways to tell—a scratch here, a scuff mark there … after a while, you got to where you knew which fighter was which. And no matter what Command said, some were better than others—a little faster, a little tighter in the turns, the laser cannons a hair quicker to fire when you touched the stud. Vil happened to know that his assigned ship this rotation was Black-11, one of his favorites. Maybe it was pure superstition, but he breathed just a little easier, knowing that particular craft had his name on it this time around.