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Ambush at Corellia

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Ambush at Corellia

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Author: Roger MacBride Allen
Publisher: Bantam Spectra, 1995
Series: Star Wars: The Corellian Trilogy: Book 1

1. Ambush at Corellia
2. Assault at Selonia
3. Showdown at Centerpoint

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Space Opera
Galactic Empire
Science-Fantasy
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Synopsis

A trade summit on Corellia brings Han Solo back to the home world he left many years before. Arriving on the distant planet with Leia, their children and Chewbacca, Han finds Corellia overrun with agents of the New Republic Intelligence and finds himself part of a deceptive plan whose aim not even he understands. One thing is clear: the five inhabited worlds of the sector are on the brink of civil war and the once peaceful coexistence of the three leading races -- human, Selonian, and Drallan -- has come to an end.


Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Visible Secrets

All right, Chewie, try it now." Han Solo stuffed the comlink back in his pocket and stepped back a bit from the Millennium Falcon, an anxious look on his face. It ought to work this time. But that was what they had figured the time before, and the time before that. He could see into the Falcon's cockpit viewports from where he stood, and Chewbacca didn't look all that confident, either. He saw Chewbacca reach for the lift controls. Han realized that he had been holding his breath, and forced himself to exhale.

The Millennium Falcon shifted slightly on her hard stand, then rose slowly into the evening air. Chewie took her up until the landing pads were at Han's eye level, and held her there.

Han pulled out the comlink again and spoke into it. "That's good," he said. "Good. Now engage the shields." The air all around the Falcon seemed to shimmer a bit, and then steadied down.

Han stepped back just a bit farther, not wishing to be all that close when Chewie cut the repulsors. "All right, Chewie, repulsors--off!"

The glow of the repulsors dimmed, and the Falcon dropped abruptly--and stopped, suspended in midair, with the landing pads waist-high off the ground. Sparks and scintillations flared and flickered here and there on the hard stand as the shields' energy webs shifted under stress.

"Good," Han said. "Very good." Short of firing a turbo-laser at the ship from point-blank range, it was about as good a field test of overall shield strength as you could ask for. If the shields could support the weight of the ship, then they could--

Suddenly the sparking grew brighter, fiercer, just under the number-two landing pad. "Chewie! Repulsors on! It's going to--"

With a shuddering flash of light, the rear shields blew out. The aft landing pads slammed into the hard stand with a bone-rattling impact that sent Han sprawling. The forward end of the ship hung in midair as the rear half bounced on its jacks, back up into the air.

Just as the rear of the ship was at the peak of its travel, the forward shields died. In the same instant the forward repulsors flared to life. The rear repulsors came on, lighting a split second after the forward units, and flickering a bit. Getting slammed into the pavement like that hadn't done the rear repulsor coils any good, that was for sure. Still, Chewie had timed the recovery nicely. Han had seen ships flipped onto their backs trying to recover from a failed shield hover.

Chewie brought the Falcon back down to a gentle landing and cut the repulsors. A moment later the gangway lowered itself and Chewie came out, clearly none too happy with the situation. He made a loud bugling noise, turned back up the gangway, and returned a moment later carrying a shield-tuning set.

That was not good. After all the years Han had spent with Chewie, he knew better than to let a frustrated Wookiee vent his feelings on a repair job. He was just as likely to tear the shield generator out by the roots as he was to retune it. "Ah, maybe that's not such a good idea, Chewie. Leave it for now. We'll come back to it tomorrow."

Chewbacca roared and threw the tool kit down.

"I know, I know, I know," Han said. "It's taking longer than it should, and you're tired of tweaking up subsystems that we optimized last week. But that's the way it is on a ship like the Falcon. She's a finely tuned instrument. Everything affects everything else. Adjust one system and everything else reacts. The only way not to go through this would be to scrap her and start over--and you don't want to scrap the Falcon, do you?"

Chewie looked back toward the ship with an expression that told Han not to press his luck on that point. The Wookiee had never felt as deeply for the Falcon as Han had, and even Han knew the old girl would have to be retired someday. Sooner or later it would be the scrap heap for her--or a museum, more likely. That was an odd thought, but after all, the Falcon had made more than her share of history.

But just now the key thing was to get Chewbacca calmed down, or away from the shield system--or, preferably, both.

"Tomorrow," Han said. "Back at it tomorrow. For now, let's leave it, all right? Leia's probably waiting dinner on us, anyway."

The mention of food seemed to brighten Chewbacca up--as Han had intended that it do. Wookiee management was a full-time chore, and then some. Now and then Han wondered just how much effort Chewbacca put into Han management. But that was another point to consider later. It was time to knock off for the day.

Amazing, how times changed, how time changed life. After all the close calls, all the battles, all the captures and rescues and risks and victories Han had been through, now it came down to getting home to dinner. I'm a family man now, Han told himself, still a bit amazed by the fact. And perhaps the most amazing thing of all was how much he liked being one.

Han Solo looked up into the evening sky of Coruscant. What was it now? Eighteen years? Eighteen years since he had hired on to fly a crazy old man named Ben Kenobi and a kid named Luke Skywalker out of Tatooine. Taking on that job had changed his life forever--and changed the course of galactic history, if you wanted to get grandiose about it.

It was nine years since the defeat of Grand Admiral Thrawn and the Dark Jedi Master. Nine years since the birth of the twins, and just over seven since Anakin was born.

"Captain Solo?"

It was a female voice that pulled him out of his reverie. The voice was low and throaty, and came from behind him. Han did not recognize it. The unknown voice sounded dangerous, somehow. It was a little too quiet, too calm, too cool.

"Yeah," Han replied, turning around slowly. "My name is Solo." A small, slight, dark-skinned human, a woman, stepped out of the shadows by the hangar entrance. She wore a dark blue uniform that might be one of the Republic Navy branches, but then it might not. Han was not up-to-date on what the navy was wearing these days. "Who might you be?" he asked.

She came toward him, smiling calmly. He could see her a bit better now. She was young, maybe twenty-five standard years at most. Her eyes were set a bit wide apart, and a trifle glassy. Her gaze seemed to be a bit off-kilter, as if she were almost, but not quite, cross-eyed. She was looking right at Han, and yet he had the distinct impression that she was looking over his shoulder, into the middle distance--or into the next galaxy over. Her jet-black hair was done up in an elaborate braid that was coiled on top of her head.

She walked toward him with an easy confidence that seemed to brook no discussion. "Glad to meet you," she said. "You can call me Kalenda."

"All right," Han said. "I can call you Kalenda. So what?"

"So I have a job for you," she said.

That brought Han up short. A job? He was about to reply with some sort of flip remark, but then he stopped. That didn't make sense. She obviously knew who Han was--which was not much of an accomplishment, as Han and Leia and Luke were famous throughout the Republic. But if she knew who he was, she would have to know he was no longer available for casual hire. Something wasn't right. "Go on," Han said, careful to keep his voice neutral.

Kalenda shifted that strange gaze of hers so she was looking almost, but not quite, in the direction of Chewbacca. "Perhaps we should talk alone," she said quietly.

There was a low growl from Chewie, and Han did not even bother to glance over his shoulder at the Wookiee. He knew what he would see. Let Kalenda get a look at Chewie's fangs. "Perhaps we shouldn't," he said. "I don't want to hear anything you have to say that Chewbacca can't hear."

"Very well," she said. "But perhaps, at least, the three of us could talk in private?"

"Fine," Han said. "Come on aboard the Falcon."

Kalenda frowned. Clearly, she didn't like that idea either. The Falcon was Han's turf. "Very well," she said.

Han gestured toward the ship with a sweep of his arm, and bowed very slightly, just enough to make it clear the gesture was sarcastic. "Right this way," he said.

The probe droid hovered silently up into position, coming up over the wall of the hard stand area, then dropping in behind packing cases to keep out of sight. It was painted matte black, and was all but invisible in the deepening shadows. It watched the two humans and the Wookiee head up into the ship.

It extended an audio monitor probe and aimed it at the Millennium Falcon. After a moment's hesitation, it moved in closer to the ship. Doing so exposed it to a greater risk of detection, but the probe droid's masters had programmed it to place a high priority on eavesdropping on just this sort of meeting. The droid decided it would be worth the risk if its masters were able to get a good recording of the conversation that was about to happen.

Copyright © 1995 by Roger MacBride Allen


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