Star Wars: The Truce at Bakuraby Kathy Tyers, Anthony Heald
No sooner has Darth Vader's funeral pyre burned to ashes on Endor than the Alliance intercepts a call for help from a far-flung Imperial outpost. Bakura is on the edge of known space and the first to meet the Ssi-ruuk, cold-blooded reptilian invaders who, once allied with the now dead Emperor,… See more details below
No sooner has Darth Vader's funeral pyre burned to ashes on Endor than the Alliance intercepts a call for help from a far-flung Imperial outpost. Bakura is on the edge of known space and the first to meet the Ssi-ruuk, cold-blooded reptilian invaders who, once allied with the now dead Emperor, are approaching Imperial space with only one goal; total domination. Princess Leia sees the mission as an opportunity to achieve a diplomatic victory for the Alliance. But it assumes even greater importance when a vision of Obi-Wan Kenobi appears to Luke Skywalker with the message that he must go to Bakura-or risk losing everything the Rebels have fought so desperately to achieve.
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On an outer deck of a vast battle cruiser called the Shriwirr, Dev Sibwarra rested his slim brown hand on a pioneer's left shoulder. "It'll be all right," he said softly. The other human's fear beat at his mind like a three-tailed lash. "There's no pain. You have a wonderful surprise ahead of you." Wonderful indeed, a life without hunger, cold, or selfish desire.
The prisoner, an Imperial of much lighter complexion than Dev, slumped in the entechment chair. He'd given up protesting, and his breath came in gasps. Pliable bands secured his forelimbs, neck, and kneesbut only for balance. With his nervous system deionized at the shoulders, he couldn't struggle. A slender intravenous tube dripped pale blue magnetizing solution into each of his carotid arteries while tiny servopumps hummed. It only took a few mils of magsol to attune the tiny, fluctuating electromagnetic fields of human brain waves to the Ssi-ruuvi entechment apparatus.
Behind Dev, Master Filwirrung trilled a question in Ssi-ruuvi. "Is it calmed yet?"
Dev sketched a bow to his master and switched from human speech to Ssi-ruuvi. "Calm enough," he sang back. "He's almost ready."
Sleek, russet scales protected Firwirrung's two-meter length from beaked muzzle to muscular tail tip, and a prominent black V crest marked his forehead. Not large for a Ssi-ruu, he was still growing, with only a few age-scores where scales had begun to separate on his handsome chest. Firwirrung swung a broad, glowing white metal catchment arc down to cover the prisonerfrom midchest to nose. Dev could just peer over it and watch the man's pupils dilate. At any moment . . .
"Now," Dev announced.
Firwirrung touched a control. His muscular tail twitched with pleasure. The fleet's capture had been good today. Alongside his master, Dev would work far into the night. Before entechment, prisoners were noisy and dangerous. Afterward, their life energies powered droids of Ssi-ruuvi choosing.
The catchment arc hummed up to pitch Dev backed away. Inside that round human skull, a magsol-drugged brain was losing control. Though Master Firwirrung assured him that the transfer of incorporeal energy was pxunless, every prisoner screamed.
As did this one, when Firwirrung threw the catchment arc switch. The arc boomed out a sympathetic vibration, as brain energy leaped to an electromagnet perfectly attuned to magsol. Through the Force rippled an ululation of indescribable anguish.
Dev staggered and clung to the knowledge his masters had given him: The prisoners only thought they felt pain. He only thought he sensed their pain. By the time the body screamed, all of a subject's energies had jumped to the catchment arc. The screaming body already was dead.
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