Read Deathstalker Online

Authors: Simon R. Green

Deathstalker

Praise for Simon R. Green’s Deathstalker Novels

Deathstalker Rebellion

“A strange mix of high tech and swordplay, like a grand space opera. … It makes for lots of action-packed scenes and heroic efforts.”

—SF Site

Deathstalker War

“The action is fast and frenzied … manages to consistently entertain, with some wondrously quirky and warped characters.”


Locus

Deathstalker Destiny

“Be prepared for an incredible romp through a wonderful universe of space opera filled with outrageous and incredibly powerful heroes and villains, swords and disruptors, and more lethal creatures than you can imagine.”

—SF Site

Deathstalker Legacy

“Rip-roaring space opera with dastardly villains, exciting battles, nefarious plots, and strong-willed heroes.”


Chronicle

Deathstalker Return

“Have fun with this. … Reading even one Deathstalker [novel] leaves one feeling jollier than before, for the series continues to avoid the lapses of tone so common in humorous space opera and fantasy.”


Booklist

Deathstalker Coda

“[A] wild conclusion to [the] Deathstalker saga.”


Publishers Weekly

Other Deathstalker Books

Twilight of the Empire

Deathstalker Rebellion

Deathstalker War

Deathstalker Honor

Deathstalker Destiny

Deathstalker Legacy

Deathstalker Return

Deathstalker Coda

The Adventures of Hawk & Fisher

Swords of Haven

Guards of Haven

Also by Simon R. Green

Blue Moon Rising

Beyond the Blue Moon

Blood and Honor

Down Among the Dead Men

Shadows Fall

The Man with the Golden Torc

Ace Books

The Nightside Series

Something from the Nightside

Agents of Light and Darkness

Nightingale’s Lament

Hex and the City

Paths Not Taken

Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth

Hell to Pay

SIMON R. GREEN

DEATHSTALKER

Being the First Part of
the Life and Times of
Owen Deathstalker

ROC

Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York. New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices;
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

First Printing, February 1995

20 19

Copyright © Simon R. Green, 1995

All rights reserved

REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MAKCA REGISTRADA

Printed in the United States of America

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

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Table of Contents

Chapter One: Clash by Night

Chapter Two: The Man Who Had Everything

Chapter Three: Fashion, Paranoia and Elves

Chapter Four: Rising to the Experience

Chapter Five: Friends, Enemies and Allies

Chapter Six: Under the Ashes, the City

Chapter Seven: A Wedding

Chapter Eight: Going Underground

Chapter Nine: Who’s Been Sleeping in My Head?

Chapter Ten: Hostile Takeover

Chapter Eleven: Unexpected Developments

Chapter Twelve: Down in Wormboy Hell

Chapter Thirteen: The Madness Maze

Epilogue: Prelude to Rebellion

CHAPTER ONE

Clash by Night

It gets dark out on the Rim. Strange planets and stranger people can be found on the edge of Empire, where habitable worlds are few and civilization grows thin. Beyond the Rim lies uncharted darkness, where no stars shine and few ships go. It’s easy to get lost out there, far away from everything. Starcruisers patrol up to the Rim, but there are never enough ships to cover the vast areas of open space. The Empire is growing too large, too cumbersome, though no one will admit it, or at least, no one who matters. Every year more worlds are brought into the Empire, and the frontiers press hungrily outward. But not on the Rim. The Empire stops cold there, dwarfed by the unplumbable depths of the Darkvoid.

It gets dark out there. Ships disappear sometimes, and are never seen again. No one knows why. The colonized worlds make themselves as self-sufficient as they can and turn their eyes away from the endless dark. Crime flourishes on the Rim, unthinkable distances from the hub of the Empire’s strict laws; some transgressions as old as Humanity, others newly birthed by the Empire’s ever-growing sciences. For the moment the Empire’s starcruisers still keep a lid on things, dropping unannounced out of hyperspace to enforce the law with brutal efficiency, but they can’t be everywhere. Strange forces are at work on the Rim, patient and terrible, and all it will take to set them off is a simple clash between two starships off the backwater planet of Virimonde.

*     *     *

In high orbit around Virimonde, the pirate ship
Shard
sailed silently through the long night, hiding itself from unfriendly eyes. Not a big ship, the
Shard
, built more for speed than endurance, and passed from hand to hand through a dozen owners and commands. Now she carried cloneleggers and body banks, and every man’s hand was turned against her. Deep in the bowels of the ship, Hazel d’Ark, pirate, clonelegger and bon vivant, strode scowling through the dimly lit steel corridors and wished she was somewhere else. Anywhere else. The
Shard
wasn’t a luxurious craft at the best of times, but with most of the ship’s power diverted to maintaining the body banks, the old scut seemed even gloomier than usual. Which took some doing.

Hazel d’Ark, last owner of a once noble name, came to the locked door that led to the cargo bay and stood waiting impatiently for the door’s sensors to recognize her. Her mood was bad, bordering on foul, and had been ever since they dropped out of hyperspace six hours ago to take up orbit around Virimonde. Six hours of waiting for some word from their contacts down below. Something was wrong.

They couldn’t afford to stay much longer, but they couldn’t leave either. So they waited. Hazel wasn’t expecting any trouble from the planet’s security people. The
Shard
might be old, but she had state-of-the-art cloaking devices, more than enough to fool anything the peasants had on Virimonde. Not that there was much the planet could do, even if it knew the pirates were there. Virimonde was a low-tech, agricultural world, with more livestock than people. Its only contact with the Empire was a monthly cargo transporter and an occasional patrolling starcruiser, neither of which was expected for some weeks.

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