Star Wars The Black Fleet Crisis #1: Before The Storm

( 19 )

Overview

In the blockbuster bestselling tradition of Heir to the Empire comes this thrilling addition to the Star Wars(r) saga, as peace gives way to a new threat...

It is a time of tranquillity for the New Republic.  The remnants of the Empire now lie in complete disarray, and the reemergence of the Jedi Knights has brought power and prestige to the fledgling government on Coruscant.  Yesterday's Rebels have become today's administrators and diplomats, and the ...

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Overview

In the blockbuster bestselling tradition of Heir to the Empire comes this thrilling addition to the Star Wars(r) saga, as peace gives way to a new threat...

It is a time of tranquillity for the New Republic.  The remnants of the Empire now lie in complete disarray, and the reemergence of the Jedi Knights has brought power and prestige to the fledgling government on Coruscant.  Yesterday's Rebels have become today's administrators and diplomats, and the factions that fought against imperial tyranny seem united in savoring the fruits of peace.

But the peace is short-lived.  A restless Luke must journey to his mother's homeworld in a desperate and dangerous quest to find her people.  An adventurous Lando must seize a mysterious spacecraft that has weapons of enormous destructive power and an unknown mission.  And Leia, a living symbol of the New Republic's triumph, must face down a ruthless leader of the Duskhan League, an arrogant Yevetha who seems bent on a genocidal war that could shatter the fragile unity of the New Republic...and threaten its very survival.

Before the Storm depicts a time of tranquility for the New Republic. But the peace is short-lived. Restless, Luke journeys to his mother's homeworld in a dangerous quest to find her people. And the ruthless leader of the Dukhan League threatens the fragile unity of the New Republic. Original.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The New Republic faces a terrifying threat from the darkest depths of the Empire.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553572735
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Series: Star Wars: The Black Fleet Crisis Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 216,644
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.85 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

Eight months after the Battle of Endor

The Empire's orbiting repair yard at N'zoth, code-named Black 15, was of standard Imperial design, with nine great shipways arrayed in a square.  On the morning of the retreat from N'zoth, all nine slips were occupied by Imperial warships.

Under most circumstances, nine Star Destroyers together would have been an intimidating sight to any who might come under their guns.

But on the morning of the retreat from N'zoth, only one of the nine was ready for space.

That was the sorry assessment of Jian Paret, commander of the Imperial garrison at N'zoth, as he looked out on the yards from his command center.  The orders he had received hours ago were still playing before his eyes:

You are ordered to evacuate the planetary garrison to the last man, at best possible speed, using any and all ships that are spaceworthy.  Destroy the repair yard and any and all  remaining assets before withdrawing from the system.

Paret's assessment was shared by Nil Spaar, master of the Yevethan underground, as he rode the work shuttle up from the surface with the first commando team.  The orders he had given hours ago were still ringing in his ears:

Notify all teams that an Imperial evacuation has been ordered.  Execute the primary plan without delay.  It is our day for retribution.  Our blood is in those vessels, and they will be ours.  May each of us honor the name of the Yevetha today."

Nine ships.

Nine prizes.

The most badly damaged, Redoubtable, had taken terrible punishment in the retreat from Endor.  The others ranged from old medium cruisers being upgraded and recommissioned, to the EX-F, a weapons and propulsion test bet built on a Dreadnaught hull.

The key to them all was the massive Star Destroyer Intimidator, moored at one of the open slips.  Spaceworthy but completely unblooded, it hat been sent to Black 15 from the Core for finish work, to free up a super-class shipway at the commands home shipbuilding yard.

There was more than enough room aboard it for the garrison, and more than enough firepower aboard to destroy the yard and the hulls within.  Paret transferred his command to the bridge of the Intimidator within an hour of receiving his orders.

But Intimidator could not leave the yard as quickly as Paret would have liked.  He had only one-third of a standard crew aboard, a single watch--too few hands to quickly ready a ship of that size to fly free.

Moreover, nine of every ten workers on Black 15 were Yevetha.  Paret despised the gaudy-faced skeletons.  He would have liked to seal the ship in the interest of security, or to draft additional work details in the interest of speed.  But either act would prematurely alert the Yevetha that the occupation force was leaving N'zoth, threatening the withdrawal from the surface.

All Paret would do was call a surprise departure drill and wait out its lengthy checks and countdowns, letting the normal work details continue until the troop transports and the governor's shuttle had lifted off and were en route.  Then, and only then, could his crew close the hatches, cut the moorings, and turn its back on N'zoth.

Nil Spaar knew of Commander Paret's dilemma.  He knew all that Paret knew, and much more.  For more than five years he had worked to position allies of the underground throughout the conscript workforce.  Nothing of importance happened without Nil Spaar's swiftly hearing of it.  And he had taken the information he had collected and woven it into an elegant scheme.

He had put an end to the rash of minor "mistakes" and "accidents," demanding that those who worked for the Empire show diligence and strive for excellence--while learning everything they could about the ships and their operation.  He had seen to it that the Yevetha made themselves indispensable to the Black Fleet's yard bosses and earned the trust of its commanders.

It was that trust which had allowed the work slowdown in the months since the Battle of Endor to go on unquestioned.  It was that trust which had given his Yevetha the run of both the yard and the ships moored in the slips.

And it was the patient and calculating exploitation of that trust which had brought Nil Spaar and those who followed him to this moment.

He knew that he no longer need fear the Harridan, the Victory-class Star Destroyer that had been protecting the yard and patrolling the system.  The Harridan had been ordered to the front three weeks ago, joining the Imperial force fighting a losing rear-guard action at Notak.

He knew that Paret could not seal the Intimidator against his men, even by ordering a battle-stations lockdown.  More than a dozen external hatches in Sections 17 and 21 had been rigged by Yevetha technicians to report that they were secured when they were not, and to report that they were closed when they were not.

He knew that even if Intimidator got free of the slip in which it was moored, it would not have a chance to escape or turn its guns on the abandoned vessels.  The packages of explosives concealed inside Intimidator's hull would break it open like an egg the moment its shields went up and blocked the signal that was safing the bombs.

As the work shuttle neared the receiving dock, Nil Spaar felt no fear, no apprehension.  Everything that could be done had been done, and there was a joyful inevitability about the fighting to come.  He had no doubt what the outcome would be.

Nil Spaar and the first commando team entered Intimidator through the hatches in Section 17, while his second, Dar Bille, and the backup team entered through Section 21.

There was no talking.  None was necessary.  Every member of both teams knew the layout of the ship as well as any Imperial crewman.  They moved through it like ghosts, down corridors closed or cleared by friends on work devils, through crawlways and up access ladders that appeared on no construction blueprint.  In minutes they had reached the bridge--without ever being challenged, or drawing a weapon, or firing a shot.

But they entered the bridge with weapons drawn, knowing exactly which stations would be occupied, where the guard suction was, who could sound a shipwide alarm.  Nil Spaar shouted out no warnings, made no theatrical announcement, demanded no surrender.  He simply walked briskly across the deck toward the executive officer, raised his blaster, and burned the officer's face away.

As he did, the rest of the team fanned out behind him, each to his own assigned target.  Six of Intimidator's bridge crew were struck down in the first seconds, sitting at their stations, because of the power that rested at their fingertips.  The others, including Commander Paret, quickly ended up facedown on the floor, hands bound behind them.

Taking the ship was not difficult.  Timing the raid to avoid retribution had always been the challenge.

"Signal from the governor's shuttle," called out a Yevetha commando, slipping into the seat at the communications station.  "The transports are leaving the surface.  No trouble reported."

Nil Spaar nodded approvingly.  Acknowledge the signal.  Advise the crew that we're moving out to pick up the garrison.  Notify the yard that Intimidator is leaving."

Like a cluster of insects returning to the hive, the flea of Imperial transports rose from N'zoth toward the great dagger-shaped Star Destroyer. More than twenty thousand citizens of the Empire were crammed into the insect fleet--soldiers and bureaucrats, technicians and families.

"Open all hangars," said Nil Spaar.

Their destination in sight, the transports slowed and began to align themselves on approach vectors.

"Activate all autotargeting batteries," said Nil Spaar.

There was a collective gasp from the prisoners on the bridge, who were watching the same display screens as the Yevethan commandos who now occupied their stations.

"You're all cowards," Commander Paret called out to the invaders, his voice bitter with contempt and anger.  A real soldier would never do this.  There's no honor in killing the defenseless."

Nil Spaar ignored him.  "Lock on targets."

"You vicious, pathetic fool.  You've already won.  How can you justify this?"

"Fire," said Nil Spaar.

The deck plates barely vibrated as the gun batteries erupted and the approaching transports disappeared in balls of fire and fragments.  It did not take long.  None escaped.  Moments later the cornmunications station began to scream with shocked and panicked inquiries from all over the ship.  There had been many witnesses to the carnage.

Nil Spaar turned away from the tracking display and crossed the bridge to where Commander Paret lay on the decking.  Grabbing the Imperial officer by the hair, he dragged Paret out of line and rolled him over roughly with his booted foot. Seizing the front of Paret's tunic with one hand, Nil Spaar lifted him half off the deck.  For a long moment he loomed over the officer, looking like a tall, vengeful demon with his colt, black, widely set eyes, the white slash down his nasal ridge, and the deep scarlet-splashed ridges that furrowed his cheeks and chin.

Then, hissing, the Yevethan made a fist with his free hand and cocked it back. A sharp, curving dewclaw emerged from the swelling at his wrist.

"You are vermin," Nil Spaar said coldly, and slashed the claw across the Imperial captain's throat.

Nil Spaar held on through the commander's death throes, then dropped the body carelessly to the floor.  Turning, he looked down into the pit at the commando who had taken over the communications station.

"Tell the crew that they are the prisoners of the Yevethan Protectorate and His Glory the viceroy," said Nil Spaar, wiping his claw on the trouser leg of his victim.  "Tell them that beginning today, their lives depend on their being useful to us.  And then I wish to speak to the viceroy, and tell him of our triumph."

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First Chapter

Prologue

Eight months after the Battle of Endor

The Empire's orbiting repair yard at N'zoth, code-named Black 15, was of standard Imperial design, with nine great shipways arrayed in a square. On the morning of the retreat from N'zoth, all nine slips were occupied by Imperial warships.

Under most circumstances, nine Star Destroyers together would have been an intimidating sight to any who might come under their guns.

But on the morning of the retreat from N'zoth, only one of the nine was ready for space.

That was the sorry assessment of Jian Paret, commander of the Imperial garrison at N'zoth, as he looked out on the yards from his command center. The orders he had received hours ago were still playing before his eyes:

You are ordered to evacuate the planetary garrison to the last man, at best possible speed, using any and all ships that are spaceworthy. Destroy the repair yard and any and all remaining assets before withdrawing from the system.

Paret's assessment was shared by Nil Spaar, master of the Yevethan underground, as he rode the work shuttle up from the surface with the first commando team. The orders he had given hours ago were still ringing in his ears:

Notify all teams that an Imperial evacuation has been ordered. Execute the primary plan without delay. It is our day for retribution. Our blood is in those vessels, and they will be ours. May each of us honor the name of the Yevetha today."

Nine ships.

Nine prizes.

The most badly damaged, Redoubtable, had taken terrible punishment in the retreat from Endor. The others ranged from old medium cruisers being upgraded and recommissioned, to the EX-F, a weapons and propulsion test bet built on a Dreadnaught hull.

The key to them all was the massive Star Destroyer Intimidator, moored at one of the open slips. Spaceworthy but completely unblooded, it hat been sent to Black 15 from the Core for finish work, to free up a super-class shipway at the commands home shipbuilding yard.

There was more than enough room aboard it for the garrison, and more than enough firepower aboard to destroy the yard and the hulls within. Paret transferred his command to the bridge of the Intimidator within an hour of receiving his orders.

But Intimidator could not leave the yard as quickly as Paret would have liked. He had only one-third of a standard crew aboard, a single watch--too few hands to quickly ready a ship of that size to fly free.

Moreover, nine of every ten workers on Black 15 were Yevetha. Paret despised the gaudy-faced skeletons. He would have liked to seal the ship in the interest of security, or to draft additional work details in the interest of speed. But either act would prematurely alert the Yevetha that the occupation force was leaving N'zoth, threatening the withdrawal from the surface.

All Paret would do was call a surprise departure drill and wait out its lengthy checks and countdowns, letting the normal work details continue until the troop transports and the governor's shuttle had lifted off and were en route. Then, and only then, could his crew close the hatches, cut the moorings, and turn its back on N'zoth.

Nil Spaar knew of Commander Paret's dilemma. He knew all that Paret knew, and much more. For more than five years he had worked to position allies of the underground throughout the conscript workforce. Nothing of importance happened without Nil Spaar's swiftly hearing of it. And he had taken the information he had collected and woven it into an elegant scheme.

He had put an end to the rash of minor "mistakes" and "accidents," demanding that those who worked for the Empire show diligence and strive for excellence--while learning everything they could about the ships and their operation. He had seen to it that the Yevetha made themselves indispensable to the Black Fleet's yard bosses and earned the trust of its commanders.

It was that trust which had allowed the work slowdown in the months since the Battle of Endor to go on unquestioned. It was that trust which had given his Yevetha the run of both the yard and the ships moored in the slips.

And it was the patient and calculating exploitation of that trust which had brought Nil Spaar and those who followed him to this moment.

He knew that he no longer need fear the Harridan, the Victory-class Star Destroyer that had been protecting the yard and patrolling the system. The Harridan had been ordered to the front three weeks ago, joining the Imperial force fighting a losing rear-guard action at Notak.

He knew that Paret could not seal the Intimidator against his men, even by ordering a battle-stations lockdown. More than a dozen external hatches in Sections 17 and 21 had been rigged by Yevetha technicians to report that they were secured when they were not, and to report that they were closed when they were not.

He knew that even if Intimidator got free of the slip in which it was moored, it would not have a chance to escape or turn its guns on the abandoned vessels. The packages of explosives concealed inside Intimidator's hull would break it open like an egg the moment its shields went up and blocked the signal that was safing the bombs.

As the work shuttle neared the receiving dock, Nil Spaar felt no fear, no apprehension. Everything that could be done had been done, and there was a joyful inevitability about the fighting to come. He had no doubt what the outcome would be.

Nil Spaar and the first commando team entered Intimidator through the hatches in Section 17, while his second, Dar Bille, and the backup team entered through Section 21.

There was no talking. None was necessary. Every member of both teams knew the layout of the ship as well as any Imperial crewman. They moved through it like ghosts, down corridors closed or cleared by friends on work devils, through crawlways and up access ladders that appeared on no construction blueprint. In minutes they had reached the bridge--without ever being challenged, or drawing a weapon, or firing a shot.

But they entered the bridge with weapons drawn, knowing exactly which stations would be occupied, where the guard suction was, who could sound a shipwide alarm. Nil Spaar shouted out no warnings, made no theatrical announcement, demanded no surrender. He simply walked briskly across the deck toward the executive officer, raised his blaster, and burned the officer's face away.

As he did, the rest of the team fanned out behind him, each to his own assigned target. Six of Intimidator's bridge crew were struck down in the first seconds, sitting at their stations, because of the power that rested at their fingertips. The others, including Commander Paret, quickly ended up facedown on the floor, hands bound behind them.

Taking the ship was not difficult. Timing the raid to avoid retribution had always been the challenge.

"Signal from the governor's shuttle," called out a Yevetha commando, slipping into the seat at the communications station. "The transports are leaving the surface. No trouble reported."

Nil Spaar nodded approvingly. Acknowledge the signal. Advise the crew that we're moving out to pick up the garrison. Notify the yard that Intimidator is leaving."

Like a cluster of insects returning to the hive, the flea of Imperial transports rose from N'zoth toward the great dagger-shaped Star Destroyer. More than twenty thousand citizens of the Empire were crammed into the insect fleet--soldiers and bureaucrats, technicians and families.

"Open all hangars," said Nil Spaar.

Their destination in sight, the transports slowed and began to align themselves on approach vectors.

"Activate all autotargeting batteries," said Nil Spaar.

There was a collective gasp from the prisoners on the bridge, who were watching the same display screens as the Yevethan commandos who now occupied their stations.

"You're all cowards," Commander Paret called out to the invaders, his voice bitter with contempt and anger. A real soldier would never do this. There's no honor in killing the defenseless."

Nil Spaar ignored him. "Lock on targets."

"You vicious, pathetic fool. You've already won. How can you justify this?"

"Fire," said Nil Spaar.

The deck plates barely vibrated as the gun batteries erupted and the approaching transports disappeared in balls of fire and fragments. It did not take long. None escaped. Moments later the cornmunications station began to scream with shocked and panicked inquiries from all over the ship. There had been many witnesses to the carnage.

Nil Spaar turned away from the tracking display and crossed the bridge to where Commander Paret lay on the decking. Grabbing the Imperial officer by the hair, he dragged Paret out of line and rolled him over roughly with his booted foot. Seizing the front of Paret's tunic with one hand, Nil Spaar lifted him half off the deck. For a long moment he loomed over the officer, looking like a tall, vengeful demon with his colt, black, widely set eyes, the white slash down his nasal ridge, and the deep scarlet-splashed ridges that furrowed his cheeks and chin.

Then, hissing, the Yevethan made a fist with his free hand and cocked it back. A sharp, curving dewclaw emerged from the swelling at his wrist.

"You are vermin," Nil Spaar said coldly, and slashed the claw across the Imperial captain's throat.

Nil Spaar held on through the commander's death throes, then dropped the body carelessly to the floor. Turning, he looked down into the pit at the commando who had taken over the communications station.

"Tell the crew that they are the prisoners of the Yevethan Protectorate and His Glory the viceroy," said Nil Spaar, wiping his claw on the trouser leg of his victim. "Tell them that beginning today, their lives depend on their being useful to us. And then I wish to speak to the viceroy, and tell him of our triumph."

Copyright © 1996 by Michael Kube-McDowell. ™ & © 1996 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 19 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2012

    :) cool

    Havent read it but sounds good

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Dud

    I hate it

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    An excellent political thriller done Star Wars style

    The two central characters in this one are Luke and Leia. Each of those characters have a story worth following. Leia has to uncover secrets within her own government, and Luke sets himself on a journey to discover whatever happened to his mother.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 12, 2009

    The Worst Star Wars Series Ever

    I read this a long time ago and hated it! Normally I love anything Star Wars, but this just seemed so pointless! I tried to read the series again, but I just couldn't do it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2007

    lord sidious still lives one even without his troops

    darth sidious and darth vader built the empire without either of them we would not have captain admiral thrawn i praise thrawn for doing his duty with my troops and men and women of the empire but the empire never fell it still lives on without me

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2000

    Its A Really Great book!!!

    I am a Star Wars X-Wing series fan but when i read this book i was amazed at the other aspects of the star wars universe besides the dog fighting between starfighters.Leia has a very well built character and Han is very funny in times just like who he was in the movies.another thing i like is that it gives you a look at the remaining imperials just after the battle of endor.i think the yevetha are a prefect enemy for the republic and will widen the enemies facing the new republic instead of just the empire. I hope everyone enjoys this book as much as i did!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2000

    Exceptional!

    I've read several Star Wars novels. Some of them are quite good (Zahn's original Thrawn trilogy), and some of them make me wonder how they ever found their way to print (Anderson's Jedi Academy trilogy). But nothing in the entire Star Wars line up has impressed me the way Michael P. Kube-McDowell's 'Before The Storm' does. The book is exceptional. I could not put it down. It is not only THE best Star Wars book I've read, it's one of THE best novels I've ever read. The book holds its own against the best works of Tom Clancy. I'm not kidding. Gone are the silly situations that Star Wars is sometimes known for (Ewoks beating a Legion of the Emperor's best troops; Jar-Jar taking out several attackers because his foot stuck in the wires of a downed droid). What you get instead are the more 'adult', serious types of situations, like the attack on the Death Star or the battle against the giant Walkers on the ice planet of Hoth. The story is a very believeable look at the 'empire building' the New Republic is engaged in 12 years after the events of 'Return of the Jedi'. If you like the political intrigue evident in 'The Phantom Menace', you get much more of it in this book. I like what Kube-McDowell die with Leia--she's not infallible. You also get osme gruesome, realistic action, that takes you to a Star Wars universe that is more akin to that of 'Babylon 5' or 'Aliens' than the sometimes too childish 'Star Wars' flicks and books. For example, take a peek at this paragraph describing the reaction to a planetary bombardment: ---- On what had been one of the wide, flat landing pads of Ten South, those who had come out to watch the visitors land were evenly divided between the stunned and the screaming. A man near Plat Mallar went to his knees and vomited. Turning away from the sight, Mallar found a woman clawing madly at her allsuit with such force that she was bleeding profusely from beneath what was left of her nails. The sight galvanized Mallar out of his paralysis, and he began edging his way toward the east edge of the pad.---- If you want to read something more believable than your average, every day Star Wars book, I suggest this one. If you want the more 'fantasy' style of stuff, then you might want to look elsewhere. I give this book my highest rating and recommend it to anyone interested in reading Star Wars. It's a new take on a familiar universe. Kenneth.

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