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Scoundrels: Star Wars (Star Wars - Legends) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Timothy Zahn
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“Rapid-fire adventure [that] adds yet another dimension of enjoyment to a rousing galactic romp.”—Library Journal
“Highly entertaining . . . excellent Star Wars . . . There are many twists and turns [and] Zahn manages to find ways to twist them one step further than you’d expect.”—
“[Scoundrels] brings freshness to the franchise.”—USA Today

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Timothy Zahn is the author of more than forty novels, nearly ninety short stories and novelettes, and four short fiction collections. In 1984, he won the Hugo Award for best novella. Zahn is best known for his Star Wars novels (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, Specter of the Past, Vision of the Future, Survivor’s Quest, Outbound Flight, Allegiance, and Choices of One) with more than four million copies of his books in print. Other books include the Cobra series, the Quadrail series, and the young adult Dragonback series. Zahn has a B.S. in physics from Michigan State University and an M.S. from the University of Illinois. He lives with his family on the Oregon coast.

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

Chapter One

The starlines collapsed into stars, and the Imperial Star Destroyer Dominator had arrived. Standing on the command walkway, his hands clasped stiffly behind his back, Captain Worhven glared at the misty planet floating in the blackness directly ahead and wondered what in blazes he and his ship were doing here.

For these were not good times. The Emperor’s sudden dissolution of the Imperial Senate had sent dangerous swells of uncertainty throughout the galaxy, which played into the hands of radical groups like the so-called Rebel Alliance. At the same time, criminal organizations like Black Sun and the Hutt syndicates openly flaunted the law, buying and selling spice, stolen merchandise, and local and regional officials alike.

Even worse, Palpatine’s brand-new toy, the weapon that was supposed to finally convince both insurgents and lawbreakers that the Empire was deadly serious about taking them down, had inexplicably been destroyed at Yavin. Worhven still hadn’t heard an official explanation for that incident.

Evil times indeed. And evil times called for a strong and massive response. The minute the word came in from Yavin, Imperial Center should have ordered a full Fleet deployment, concentrating its efforts on the most important, the most insubordinate, and the most jittery systems. It was the classic response to crisis, a method that dated back thousands of years, and by all rights and logic the Dominator should have been at the forefront of any such deployment.

Instead, Worhven and his ship had been pressed into mule cart duty.

“Ah--Captain,” a cheery voice boomed behind him.

Worhven took a deep, calming breath. “Lord d’Ashewl,” he replied, making sure to keep his back to the other while he forced his expression into something more politically proper for the occasion.

It was well he’d started rearranging his face when he did. Barely five seconds later d’Ashewl came to a stop beside him, right up at his side instead of stopping the two steps back that Worhven demanded of even senior officers until he gestured them forward.

But that was hardly a surprise. What would a fat, stupid, accidentally rich member of Imperial Center’s upper court know of ship’s protocol?

A rhetorical question. The answer, of course, was nothing.

But if d’Ashewl didn’t understand basic courtesy, Worhven did. And he would treat his guest with the proper respect. Even if it killed him. “My lord,” he said politely, turning to face the other. “I trust you slept well.”

“I did,” d’Ashewl said, his eyes on the planet ahead. “So that’s Wukkar out there, is it?”

“Yes, my lord,” Worhven said, resisting the urge to wonder aloud if d’Ashewl thought the Dominator might have somehow drifted off course during ship’s night. “As per your orders.”

“Yes, yes, of course,” d’Ashewl said, craning his neck a little. “It’s just so hard to tell from this distance. Most worlds out there look distressingly alike.”

“Yes, my lord,” Worhven repeated, again resisting the words that so badly wanted to come out. That was the kind of comment made only by the inexperienced or blatantly stupid. With d’Ashewl, it was probably a toss-up.

“But if you say it’s Wukkar, then I believe it,” d’Ashewl continued. “Have you compiled the list of incoming yachts that I asked for?”

Worhven suppressed a sigh. Not just mule cart duty, but handmaiden duty as well. “The comm officer has it,” he said, turning his head and gesturing toward the starboard crew pit. Out of the corner of his eye he saw now that he and d’Ashewl weren’t alone: d’Ashewl’s young manservant, Dayja, had accompanied his superior and was standing a respectful half dozen steps back along the walkway.

At least one of the pair knew something about proper protocol.

“Excellent, excellent,” d’Ashewl said, rubbing his hands together. “There’s a wager afoot, Captain, as to which of our group will arrive first and which will arrive last. Thanks to you and your magnificent ship, I stand to win a great deal of money.”

Worhven felt his lip twist. A ludicrous and pointless wager, to match the Dominator’s ludicrous and pointless errand. It was nice to know that in a universe on the edge of going mad, there was still ironic symmetry to be found.

“You’ll have your man relay the data to my floater,” d’Ashewl continued. “My man and I shall leave as soon as the Dominator reaches orbit.” He cocked his head. “Your orders were to remain in the region in the event that I needed further transport, were they not?”

The captain allowed his hands, safely out of d’Ashewl’s sight at his sides, to curl into frustrated fists. “Yes, my lord.”

“Good,” d’Ashewl said cheerfully. “Lord Toorfi has been known to suddenly change his mind on where the games are to continue, and if he does, I need to be ready to once again beat him to the new destination. You’ll be no more than three hours away at all times, correct?”

“Yes, my lord,” Worhven said. Fat, stupid, and a cheat besides. Clearly, all the others involved in this vague high-stakes gaming tournament had arrived at Wukkar via their own ships. Only d’Ashewl had had the supreme gall to talk someone on Imperial Center into letting him borrow an Imperial Star Destroyer for the occasion.

“But for now, all I need is for your men to prepare to launch my floater,” d’Ashewl continued. “After that, you may take the rest of the day off. Perhaps the rest of the month as well. One never knows how long old men’s stamina and credits will last, eh?”

Without waiting for a reply--which was just as well, because Worhven didn’t have any that he was willing to share--the rotund man turned and waddled back along the walkway toward the aft bridge. Dayja waited until he’d passed, then dropped into step the prescribed three paces behind him.

Worhven watched until the pair had passed beneath the archway and into the aft bridge turbolift, just to make sure they were truly gone. Then, unclenching his teeth, he turned to the comm officer. “Signal Hangar Command,” he ordered. “Our passenger is ready to leave.”

He threw a final glower at the aft bridge. Take the day off, indeed. Enough condescending idiocy like that from the Empire’s ruling class, and Worhven would be sorely tempted to join the Rebellion himself. “And tell them to make it quick,” he added. “I don’t want Lord d’Ashewl or his ship aboard a single millisecond longer than necessary.”

“I should probably have you whipped,” d’Ashewl commented absently.

Dayja half turned in the floater’s command chair to look over his shoulder. “Excuse me?” he asked.

“I said I should probably have you whipped,” d’Ashewl repeated, gazing at his datapad as he lazed comfortably on the luxurious couch in the lounge just behind the cockpit.

“Any particular reason?”

“Not really,” d’Ashewl said. “But it’s becoming the big thing among the upper echelon of the court these days, and I’d hate to be left out of the truly important trends.”

“Ah,” Dayja said. “I trust these rituals aren’t done in public?”

“Oh, no, the sessions are quite private and secretive,”...
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