I’ve received an affirmative from Del Rey/Lucasarts/Bioware to post an excerpt from my forthcoming Star Wars novel, Deceived. As you know, the novel ties-in to the forthcoming MMORPG, The Old Republic, from Lucasarts/Bioware.
The excerpt features in prose a scene you’ll recognize from the first cinematic trailer. Here, you get a sense of Malgus as a man. Note, this has not been copyedited and copyright belongs to the holder, all rights reserved, blah blah.
I hope you enjoy.
Malgus took one last look around, at the children and their parents playing, laughing, eating, everyone going about their lives, unaware that everything was about to change.
“Come,” he said to Eleena, and picked up his pace. His cloak swirled around him. So, too, his anger.
Moments later, he received another coded transmission, this one from the highjacked dropship.
Jump complete. On approach. Arrival in ninety seconds.
Ahead, he saw the four towers surrounding the stacked tiers of the Jedi Temple, its ancient stone as orange as fire in the light of the setting sun. The civilians seemed to give it a wide berth, as if it were a holy place, rather than a place of sacrilege.
He would reduce it to rubble.
He walked toward it and fate walked beside him.
Statues of long-dead Jedi Masters lined the approach to the Temple’s enormous doorway. The setting sun stretched the statue’s tenebrous forms across the duracrete. He walked through the shadows and past them, noting some names: Odan Urr, Ooroo, Arca Jeth.
“You have been deceived,” he whispered to them. “Your time is past.”
Most of the Jedi Order’s current masters were away, either participating in the sham negotiations on Alderaan or protecting Republic interests off planet, but the Temple was not entirely unguarded. Three uniformed Republic soldiers, blaster rifles in hand, stood watchful near the doors. He sensed two more on a high ledge to his left.
Eleena tensed beside him, but she did not falter.
He checked his chrono again. Fifty-three seconds.
The three soldiers, wary, watched him and Eleena approach. One of them spoke into a wrist comlink, perhaps querying a command center within.
They would not know what to make of Malgus. Despite the war, they felt safe in their enclave in the center of the Republic. He would teach them otherwise.
“Stop right there,” one of them called.
“I cannot stop,” Malgus said, too softly to hear behind the respirator. “Not ever.”
He let his anger build with each step he took toward the Temple’s entrance. The Force responded to his emotional state, caught him up in its power until he was awash in it. He sensed the seed of fear growing in the soldiers’ guts.
“I said stop,” the lead soldier said again.
“Do nothing,” Malgus said to Eleena over his shoulder. “These are mine.”
She let her hands fall slack to her sides and fell in behind him.
The three guards spread out into an arc as they approached him, their movements cautious, blaster rifles ready. The entrance to the Temple, a fifteen-meter-tall vertical slit in the edifice’s facade, loomed behind them.
“Who are you?” the guard asked.
The last word hung in the air, frozen in time, as Malgus drew on the Force and augmented his speed. The hilt of his lightsaber filled his hand and its red line split the air. He crosscut the guard before him, putting a black canyon in his chest, continued the swing through the the guard on his left, killing him, and with his left hand used a blast of power to drive the third guard into the Temple wall hard enough to kill him.
Malgus felt the sudden surge of terror in the two soldiers up on the ledge to his left, felt them take aim in sweaty hands, start to squeeze triggers. He flung his lightsaber at them, guided it with the Force in a flickering red arc that cut both of them down, then recalled the blade to his hand. He deactivated it and hung it from his belt.
The roar of a rocket pack drew his attention. On a ledge above the Temple’s entrance, The Mandalorian rode the fire on her back to a high window on one of the Temple’s upper tiers and disappeared within. He trusted that she would join him for the combat inside.
He checked his chrono, watched the numbers evaporate. Twenty-nine seconds.
Eleena took station to his right and they entered the Temple.
The setting sun at their back reached through the huge doorway and extended their shadows before them, giant, dark heralds marking the path ahead. Within the Temple was a stillness, a peace soon to be shattered.
Malgus’s boots rapped against the polished stone floor. The hall extended before them for several hundred meters. Two rows of elegant columns reached from floor to ceiling on either side of the hall, framing a processional down the hall’s center. Ledges and balconies, too, lined both sides of the hall.
Malgus felt the presence of more guards and Jedi to his right, his left, and before him.
He checked his chronocomm. Twelve seconds.
Motion above and to his right, then to the left, drew his eyes. Curious Padawans looked down from the ledges above.
Ahead, a half-dozen robed and hooded Jedi dropped from the balconies and took station in the hall. Another Jedi descended the grand staircase at the end of the hall. His Force signature radiated power, confidence–a Master.
As one, the seven Jedi moved toward Malgus and Eleena and Malgus and Eleena moved toward them.
More and more Padawans gathered on the balconies and walkways above, sparks of light-side blasphemy flickering in Malgus’s perception.
The more powerful Force signatures of the approaching Jedi pressed against Malgus, and his against theirs, the power of each distorting the other by its presence.
In his mind, the countdown continued.
The space between him and Jedi diminished.
The power within him grew.
They stopped at two meters. The Jedi Master threw back his hood to reveal blonde hair graying at the Temples, a handsome, ruddy face. Malgus knew his name from his intelligence briefings — Master Ven Zallow.
In appearance, Zallow was everything Malgus — with his pale skin, scars, and hairless pate — was not. With respect to the Force, Malgus was everything Zallow was not.
The six Jedi Knights accompanying Zallow spaced themselves around Malgus and Eleena, to minimize maneuvering room. The Jedi eyed him cautiously, the way they might a trapped predator.
Eleena put her back to Malgus’s. Malgus felt her breathing, deep and regular.
Silence ruled the hall.
Somewhere, a Padawan cleared his throat. Another coughed.
Zallow and Malgus stared into each other’s eyes but exchanged no words. None were necessary. Both knew what would unfold next, what must unfold.
The chrono on Malgus’s wrist began to beep. The slight sound rang out like an explosion in the silent vastness of the hall.
The sound seemed to free the Jedi to act. Half a dozen green and blue lines pierced the dimness as all of the Jedi Knights ignited their lightsabers, backed off a step, and assumed a fighting stance.
All except Zallow, who held his ground before Malgus. Malgus credited him for it and inclined his head in a show of respect.
Perhaps the Knights thought the beeping chrono indicated a bomb of some kind. In a way, Malgus supposed, it did.
From behind, another sound broke the silence. The whine of the highjacked dropship’s approaching engines.
Malgus did not turn. Instead, he watched the events behind him by watching the events before him.
The Jedi Knights stepped back another step, looking past Malgus, uncertainty in their expressions. Eleena pressed her back against Malgus. No doubt she could see the dropship by now as it roared downward, toward the Temple.
Zallow did not step back and his eyes stayed on Malgus.
The sound of the dropship’s engines grew louder, more acute, a prolonged, mechanical scream.
Malgus watched the eyes ofthe Knights widen, heard the shouts of alarm from throughout the hall, then the screams, all of them soon overwhelmed by the roar of the reinforced dropship slamming at speed into the front of the Temple.
Stone shattered and the Temple’s floor vibrated under the impact. Metal bent, twisted, and shrieked. People, too, bent, twisted, and shrieked. The explosion colored the hall in orange – Malgus could see it reflected in Zallow’s eyes – and the sudden flames drew the oxygen toward it in a powerful wind, as if the conflagration were a great pair of lungs drawing breath.
Malgus did not turn. He had seen the attack thousands of times on computer models and knew exactly what was happening from the sounds he heard.
The dropship’s enormous speed and mass allowed it to retain momentum and it skidded along the Temple floor, gouging stone, trailing fire, toppling columns, collapsing balconies, crushing bodies.
Still Malgus did not move, nor Zallow.
The dropship skidded closer, closer, the sound of metal grinding over stone ever louder in Malgus’s ears. More columns collapsed. Eleena pressed against him as the flaming, shredded ship slid toward them. But it was already losing speed and soon came to a halt.
Dust, heat, and smoke filled the hall. Flames crackled. Shouts of pain and surprise penetrated the sudden silence.
“What have they done?” someone called.
“Medic!” screamed someone else.
Malgus heard the explosive bolts on the specially reinforced passenger compartment of the dropship blow outward and hit the floor like metal rain, heard the hatch clang to the floor.
For the first time, Zallow looked past Malgus, his head cocked in a question. Uncertainty entered his expression. Malgus savored it.
A prolonged, irregular hum sounded, as the fifty Sith warriors within the dropship’s compartment activated their lightsabers. The sound heralded the fall of the Temple, the fall of Coruscant, the fall of the Republic.
Malgus flashed on the vision he’d seen on Korriban, of a galaxy in flames. He threw back his hood, smiled, and activated his lightsaber.