Good news: There's a Star Wars novel that focuses on Han Solo, everybody's favorite interplanetary smuggler and vest-wearing rogue. Even more good news: Honor Among Thieves is written by James S.A. Corey, author of Leviathan Wakes. Final good news: We've got an exclusive sneak peek!
Star Wars: Honor Among Thieves comes out next Tuesday, but we've got a never-before-published chapter right here, to give you a taste of the action:
HAN THREW THE FALCON HARD TO PORT, and a stream of laser cannon fire flashed past.
"That almost hit Hunter Maas's ship!" Hunter Maas yelled in Han'sheadset.
"It almost hit Han Solo's ship," Han muttered to himself, then turned the headset mic back on. "We're handling it; just keep heading to Kiamurr at full speed. We'll get this guy off your tail."
"See that you do!"
Chewbacca growled out a laugh.
"Not a chance, pal," Han said to the Wookiee, and pulled hard at the controls to throw the Falcon across the pursuing TIE's field of fire, trying to draw its aim away from the fleeing Maas. "We're not adding a third boss to this trip. Just as soon as we—"
The Falcon shuddered as another burst of laser fire hit her rear shields. A warning light started flashing.
"—get rid of this guy, we'll make sure Maas knows his place in the pecking order."
The warning light shifted to red, and an alarm shrieked. The reardeflector was collapsing. The recently patched power cabling had burned out, and the energy surge had knocked out the backup generator. As if to highlight this fact, the cockpit of the Falcon started to smell like smoke and burning conduit.
"We just fixed that," Han said. Chewbacca growled back. Han nodded. "I know it's frustrating."
Another stream of laser fire cut through the space between the ships. Han managed to evade most of it with a hard spiraling dive to starboard,but a few bolts struck the rear of the Falcon. The warning indicator shifted to black, and the alarm squealed one last time, then fell into a sullen monotone.
The rear shield was gone.
Han yanked back on the controls, pulling the ship into a tight loop.
The moment they were out of the way, the TIE fighter began pouring laser fire into the back of Maas's freighter. The pirate screeched at them."Hunter Maas is being fired upon again! You said you came to protect! You are very bad at this job!"
Han continued the loop until the Falcon was behind the TIE. "Yeah, but you still have rear shields," he said to Maas, "so you can take it." Maas wailed his disagreement, but Han killed the headset. "Chewie, start calculating a torpedo shot on that TIE fighter. If, like the rest of them, it doesn't have shields, one concussion blast should be enough to take it out."
Chewbacca worked at the weapons console while Han throttled up to close the distance. The SR-model TIE was fast, and it appeared tohave plenty of spare power for the laser cannons. It fired into the fleeing YU-410 without pause.
The Empire's penchant for building fighters without shields had always seemed insane to Han, one of many reasons he didn't fly for that particular corporation, but working for the opposing team, he was grateful for their lack of compassion for their pilots.
Chewbacca yowled in triumph as the Falcon buzzed a target lock signal. Han closed the distance to the optimal firing range and let loose two of his eight ST2 concussion missiles. That was fifteen hundred credits on the wing, but he'd make sure to add that to the bill.
The TIE began dodging when the missiles launched. The pilot was good. Han had expected that. The Empire didn't have very many of the SR-class recon fighters, so whoever flew them would be top shelf. Han kept his finger on the trigger, ready to fire two more missiles if he needed to.
The TIE started a hard turn to port, but the YU-410 veered erratically into its path, forcing the pilot to correct in the other direction and into the pathof the incoming missiles. Both hit, and the TIE fighter disappearedin a massive concussion blast that blew it into gravel-sized chunks. The forward shields of the Falcon flashed as debris sprayed across the ship.
Chewbacca barked a victory laugh at the vanished fighter and climbed out of his seat.
"Yeah," Han said, "check on that generator. See if it can be saved. I don't like the idea of flying without rear shields until we can get back to the fleet."
Chewbacca growled out his assent and vanished into the back of theship.
"Hunter Maas," Han said, after turning the headset back on. "This is Captain Solo call—"
"You fired torpedoes at Hunter Maas!" the man shouted back. "The Cosmodium could have been destroyed!"
"The Cosmodium? Is that your ship?"
"Hunter Maas carries precious cargo in fragile data storage devices!The pulse from exploding torpedoes can do irreparable damage to such things!"
"Those were concussion warheads, they don't make a—"
"And pieces of the exploding ship have pierced the Cosmodium's hull! Hunter Maas will require extensive repairs to his ship!"
"Hunter Maas," Han said pleasantly.
There was a long silence, though it was impossible to tell if this wasobedience or shock.
"Thank you," Han said. "Please follow my course to Kiamurr. We'll make sure you get there safely. We have a secure dock picked out for your landing."
"Hunter Maas selects his own dock," the pirate was saying. "Thank you for your offer, but your work is now complete. Take the compliments and salutations of Hunter Maas to whoever your master is. Good-bye."
"Hold on there, pal," Han said. The guy on the other end of the line was finally starting to get on his nerves. "You're going to follow me back to my dock, end of story."
"And why would Hunter Maas agree to these terms?"
"Because," Han said, making sure Maas could hear the smile in his voice, "I saved you." When Maas started to interrupt, he talked over him. "And I'm sitting behind you right now with six more concussion missiles. So you can fly to Kiamurr, land at my private dock, and meetwith my friends. Or I can tow the crippled remains of your ship to that same dock."
The pause was shorter than Han had expected.
"Hunter Maas likes the sound of this private dock! Lead the way, my friend."
Han nodded to himself and stripped off the headset.
"How's that for persuasive?" he said to no one.
True to her word, Scarlet had a dock assignment waiting for them at asmall freight-forwarding warehouse just outside the main city. The warehouse was closed when they arrived, so the dock was empty ofships and employees. She was waiting for them, lounging on a nearby flight of stairs.
Han trotted down the ramp from the Falcon, hand on the butt of his blaster. They didn't really have any idea how many people Maas had withhim on his ship, or if they'd be angry about Han forcing them to land. If Scarlet was worried, it didn't show. She stretched out on the steps, head cocked to one side so that her black hair fell away from her eyes. She gave Han a grin.
"Good job, Captain."
"He had an Imperial scout ship chasing him," Han said. "The clock's ticking. The invasion has to be on its way."
"We saw," she said, then jumped lightly to her feet and started walking toward Maas's freighter. "Thanks for handling that, Han. But it's possible the scout that was chasing Maas was working on its own. We can't be sure it was an advance ship of an Imperial fleet."
From the book STAR WARS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES by James S.A. Corey. Copyright (c) 2013 by Lucasfilm. Reprinted by arrangement with Del Rey, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.