Authors: Alex Wheeler
Copyright Â© 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. & Â® or TM. All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization.
Book design by Rick DeMonico
Cover illustrations by Randy Martinez
Published by Disney â¢ Lucasfilm Press, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney â¢ Lucasfilm Press, 1101 Flower Street, Glendale, California 91201.
he prisoner refuses to cooperate. He leans back in his chair, smiles at his interrogator, lips sealed, confident that he will win out, that his will is indomitable. He is stubborn, cocky, defiant.
He is wrong.
Luke Skywalker sits down across from the prisoner, aiming a fierce, steady gaze at the man. “You will tell me what I need to know,” Luke says in a low voice.
The prisoner shakes his head. But he is no match for Luke. No match for the power of a Jedi.
Luke clears his mind of distractions, focuses on the prisoner, on the answers he needs and the steely mind that contains them. “You will tell me what I need to know,” he says again.
Dazed, the prisoner nods. “I will tell you what you need to know.”
For so long, he has tried so hardâtried to connect to the Force, tried to bend it to his will, never understanding the true lesson of the Jedi.
Luke allows the Force to flow through him. It binds him to this man, to this cell, to everything and everyone in the galaxy. And now that he understands this, he can do anything. “You will tell me the name of your employer and where to find him,” Luke says.
The prisoner nods again. “I will tell you the name of my employer and where to find him,” he agrees. The Force twists his mind, draws the words out of him. “His name isâ”
Luke's eyes popped open. A sharp rapping at the door kept him from dropping back to sleep. He'd been dreaming about...well,
he thought, the memory licking at the corners of his mind. But as he tried to reach for it, the door flew open, and Han Solo blew into the room. The last traces of the dream evaporated, like dew in the morning sun.
“Sweet dreams, kid?” Han asked with a mocking grin.
Luke just groaned, glancing at the clock. It was a little past four in the morning. He'd gone to sleep only a few hours before, after a long, frustrating evening of questioning their prisoner.
Luke winced at the word. The
had saved Luke's life on Kamino, more than once. He'd proven himself brave and honorable, a man of his word. He'd fought off a sea monster, shot down Imperial fighters, and wielded Luke's lightsaber with more speed and grace than Luke could ever hope to achieve. Yet he'd refused to say where he had learned to fight with the Jedi weapon. Just as he'd refused to admit who had sent him to Kaminoâwho had hired him to follow the Rebels and shoot Luke Skywalker out of the sky.
He'd refused to give them anything but his name: Lune Divinian.
A stranger, a paid assassin, the key to tracking down the man determined to see Luke dead...and yet, after Kamino, Luke couldn't help thinking of Div as a friend.
He climbed out of bed, shrugging off his doubts. Not long ago, he had befriended a mysterious stranger, a man who had also seemed brave and honorable, who had saved his life. And trusting the wrong man had almost killed him. Lesson learned: Trust could be dangerous. Unearned trust could be fatal.
“What do you want, Han?” Luke asked wearily. “It's practically the middle of the night.”
“Hey, if you'd rather nap, we can tuck you back into your cradle andâ”
“Han!” Luke snapped. “What is it?”
“Nothing much,” Han said lightly. “Just thought you might want to know, our prisoner's asking for you. Says he's ready to make a deal.”
“I'm here. What's the deal?” Luke asked. Div was locked in the brig, where he'd been since they had returned from Kamino a week before. The small cell wasn't that much barer than Luke's own room; like that sparse chamber, it had a thin mattress, a table, a chair, and little else. Luke could almost imagine he was in the Rebel barracksâif he ignored the lack of windows.
And the locked door.
Luke hated seeing Div like this, penned up like an animal.
Div kicked his legs up onto the flimsy mattress. He stretched out like he was lying on an Amfarian beach, luxuriating under the red sun. “The deal is, you let me go. Now. Or I escape and tell the Empire everything there is to know about this place, and your little alliance.” He clapped his hands together once, loudly. “End of the Rebellion, just like that.”
“You wouldn't do that,” Luke said. He didn't know why, but he was sure it was true.
They glared at each other. Luke looked away first.
This is the right thing,
he told himself.
It's our only choice.
But it didn't ring true. Yes, Div had valuable information. Yes, he'd proven himself an enemy of the Rebellion. But he'd had plenty of chances to kill Luke. He hadn't.
And the anger on his face when they'd accused him of working for the Empireâthat had been real.
“You knew we'd never agree to those terms,” Luke said.
“So why drag me out here in the middle of the night?” Luke asked, irritated.
Div slapped the worn mattress. “Couldn't sleep. So why should you?”
If it hadn't been the middle of the night, Luke might have laughed. “You don't need to make any deals,” he said instead. They'd been over this ground before. “Just tell us what we want to know. The name of your employer, and where to find him. That's all. Then you can leave here to go do...whatever it is you do.”
“You want me to talk, you're going to have to make me.” Div didn't look too worried. Surely he knew that the Rebel Alliance wasn't like the Empire, that they would never resort to torture or interrogation droids. Or maybe he was just certain that no matter what happened he'd keep his secrets to himself.
Luke drummed his fingers against the hilt of his lightsaber. “What if I
make you?” he said slowly. “You're forgetting, I'm a Jedi.”
“You have a lightsaber,” Div said. “It doesn't make you a Jedi. Trust me.”
“The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.”
“You think I have a weak mind?” Div grinned. “Go ahead. Try me.”
If only he could. Luke could feel the power within him. Why couldn't he access it? No matter how hard he pushed himself, how hard he tried to connect with the Force, it eluded his grasp. His failure was more frustrating than ever. He felt like the solution was fluttering at the edges of his memory, like a half-remembered dream. But that was silly. He didn't know how to use the Force, had never known. Because Ben had died before he could teach Luke all he needed to know.
He felt a surge of anger at the thought of Darth Vader and his red lightsaber slicing through Obi-Wan's body like it was made of air.
“This is useless,” he said, fury boiling beneath his words.
“Like I've been telling you.”
The anger is your true enemy.
The words just popped into his head. They made little sense, but he felt they were true.
“I'm leaving,” he said abruptly. The longer he stayed and the angrier he got, the bigger the chance he'd do something he would regret.
“Not so easy, this Jedi stuff, is it?” Div asked as Luke stepped out of the cell. He muttered something else under his breath, something Luke didn't quite catch. But it sounded almost like
I should know.
In a dark corner of space, just beyond the Rebel defenses, a ship waited.
And inside the ship, three men.
Biding their time.
They had no names, not anymore. This was how the Dark Lord had wanted it. They no longer needed their own identities. They were servants of the Empire, nothing more. And they were on a mission.
At their signal, a fleet of TIE fighters swooped into the moon's thick atmosphere and opened fire on the Rebel scum. The sky lit with explosions and laserfire. Flaming shrapnel screamed through the clouds. The Rebels scrambled a squadron of X-wings, but the pathetic ships would be no match for the Imperial attack.
And if they were: No matter.
The attack was merely a distraction, a decoy.
Something to occupy the Rebels while a single, stealthy Imperial ship slid into the atmosphere and streaked toward the jungle. With the fireworks of battle blasting above, no one would notice the grey bullet of a ship or its slim trail of exhaust. No one would realize that the perimeter had been breached. No one would understand why, without warning or reason, the TIE fighters suddenly turned and fled.
No one would stop the three men from carrying out their dark mission.
You will bring it to me,
Lord Vader had commanded them.
Do not fail.
They didn't intend to.
Div stretched out, struggling to get comfortable. At least they'd given him a mattress, so he didn't have to sleep on the floor. In fact, there was little to complain about. The room the Rebels had locked him in was relatively clean, with no borrats nibbling at his toes as he slept. He was alone, safe from the snoring or sneak attacks of a hostile roommate. Food appeared regularly and was usually warm, sometimes even edible. As cells went, this one was nearly pleasant.
But it was still a cell.
It was still four walls and a locked door, caging him inside. And so it was still intolerable.
Div closed his eyes, drawing in slow, even breaths. It was important to sleep when he could. He had to stay sharp so that when his chance for escape came, he could seize it.
Breaking out of a Rebel jail cell,
Div thought wryly.
Wonder what Trever would think of that.
But he didn't have to wonder; he knew. His adopted brother would have been ashamed that Div had ended up there in the first place. No, not ashamed. Disgusted. Hired by an Imperial agent to kill a key member of the resistance? If Trever were here, he probably would have been the first to throw Div into a cell.
Except that I have no proof that he was an Imperial agent,
Div told himself. Although he'd had his suspicionsâand ignored them.
And I wasn't hired to kill Luke. I was hired to face him in a fair fight, pilot to pilot, may the best man win,
Div thought. Even though the “fair fight” had been an ambush.
Trever can't judge me anymore,
Div told himself.
He had no answer to that. Trever was dead, just like everyone else he'd ever cared about. That was where standing up to the Empire landed you. If Div hadn't wised up, he'd be in an
cell right then. And the Imperials didn't give you mattresses or hot food or showers. They gave you interrogation droids and firing squads.
Div also told himself that he had good reasons for refusing to answer Luke's questions. Divulging information about an employerâno matter how little he hadâwas bad for business. But a small buried part of him knew that that cold, dangerous man had been an Imperial. And that if Div helped the Rebels track him down, there would be no mercy.
Trever would want me to survive,
No matter what it took.
He wasn't sure it was true. But Trever wasn't around to argue.
Div sat up. He'd heard something.
No, that wasn't quite right. He'd
something. It was a not-quite-right feeling, like an icy puff of air against the back of his neck. Trusting his instincts, he leapt to his feet. As a child, he'd had a fine-tuned radar for impending danger. His Jedi teachers, Ry-Gaul and Garen Muln, had shown him how to detect disturbances in the Force, tiny fluctuations that meant darkness was near. Those skills were gone now, along with Ry-Gaul and Garen Muln, along with the boy he'd been, the one everyone thought could become a Jedi. But he still knew when it was time to run. Not that he could run, not through a locked durasteel door. But he jumped to his feet, assuming a fighting stance. When trouble showed its face, he would be ready.
But there were some things you couldn't fight.
A thick yellow gas wafted into the cell from beneath the door. Div pressed his shirt over his nose and mouth, taking quick, shallow breaths. The room filled with the gas. There was nowhere to hide and nothing he could do but inhale the foul, acrid smoke.
A fog swept across his brain, making him woozy.
he ordered himself, wobbling on his feet. Red spots swam in front of his eyes. His limbs grew heavy, and his head lolled on his shoulders.
he thought, leaning against the wall, fighting to stay upright. But as the gas burned his throat and lungs, his legs gave out beneath him. He slid to the floor, helpless.
An explosion shook the cell, and the door blew inward.
Div told himself. Two masked men stepped into the cell.
But the fog filling his mind had turned to a thick, soupy black. As the masked men approached, his eyes slipped shut. His body went limp. His thoughts drifted away.