Crosscurrent: Star Wars

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  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 1/26/2010
  • Publisher: Del Rey

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In this stand-alone novel, an ancient Sith ship hurtles into the future carrying a lethal cargo that could forever destroy Luke Skywalker's hopes for peace. Original.

Author Biography

Paul S. Kemp is the author of nine Forgotten Realms fantasy novels and many short stories. When he’s not writing, he practices corporate law in Michigan, which has inspired him to write some really believable villains. He digs cigars, single malt scotch, and ales, and tries to hum the theme song to Shaft at least once per day. Paul Kemp lives and works in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, with his wife, twin sons, and a couple of cats.


Chapter One

The Past: 5,000 years before the Battle of Yavin

The crust of Phaegon III’s largest moon burned, buckled, and crumbled under the onslaught. Sixty-four specially equipped cruisers—little more than planetary-bombardment weapons systems with a bit of starship wrapped around them—flew in a suborbital, longitudinal formation. The sleek silver cruisers, their underbellies aglow in reflected destruction, struck Saes as unexpectedly beautiful. How strange that they could unleash annihilation in such warm, glorious colors.

Plasma beams shrieked from the bow of each cruiser and slammed into the arboreal surface of the moon, shimmering green umbilicals that wrote words of ruin across the surface and saturated the world in fire and pain. Dust and a swirl of thick black smoke churned in the atmosphere as the cruisers methodically vaporized large swaths of the moon’s surface.

The bright light and black smoke of destruction filled Harbinger’s viewscreen, drowning out the orange light of the system’s star. Except for the occasional beep of a droid or a murmured word, the bridge crew sat in silence, their eyes fixed alternately on their instruments and the viewscreen. Background chatter on the many comm channels droned over the various speakers, a serene counterpoint to the chaos of the moon’s death. Saes’s keen olfactory sense caught a whiff of his human crew’s sweat, spiced with the tang of adrenaline.

Watching the cruisers work, watching the moon die, Saes was reminded of the daelfruits he’d enjoyed in his youth. He had spent many afternoons under the sun of his homeworld, peeling away the daelfruit’s coarse, brown rind to get at the core of sweet, pale flesh.

Now he was peeling not a fruit but an entire moon.

The flesh under the rind of the moon’s crust—the Lignan they were mining—would ensure a Sith victory in the battle for Kirrek and improve Saes’s place in the Sith hierarchy. He would not challenge Shar Dakhon immediately, of course. He was still too new to the Sith Order for that. But he would not wait overlong.

Evil roots in unbridled ambition, Relin had told him once.

Saes smiled. What a fool his onetime Master had been. Naga Sadow rewarded ambition.

“Status?” he queried his science droid, 8K6.

The fires in the viewscreen danced on the anthropomorphic droid’s reflective silver surface as it turned from its instrument console to address him.

“Thirty-seven percent of the moon’s crust is destroyed.”

Wirelessly connected to the console’s readout, the droid did not need to glance back for an update on the information as the cruisers continued their work.

“Thirty-eight percent. Thirty-nine.”

Saes nodded, turned his attention back to the viewscreen. The droid fell silent.

Despite Harbinger’s distance from the surface, the Force carried back to Saes the terror of the pre-sentient primates that populated the moon’s surface. Saes imagined the small creatures fleeing through the trees, screeching, relentlessly pursued by, and inevitably consumed in, fire. They numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Their fear caressed his mind, as faint, fleeting, and pleasing as morning fog.

His fellow Sith on Harbinger and Omen would be feeling the same thing as the genocide progressed to its inexorable conclusion. Perhaps even the Massassi aboard each ship would, in their dim way, perceive the ripples in the Force.

Long ago, when Saes had been a Jedi, before he had come to understand the dark side, such wholesale destruction of life might have struck him as wrong. He knew better now. There was no absolute right and wrong. There was only power. And those who wielded it defined right and wrong for themselves. That realization was the freedom offered

Excerpted from Star Wars: Crosscurrent by Paul Kemp
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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