- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Nov 2015
From the cover
Zero Days After Plan Kay One Zero
Beak and Namir fired in unison, hefting their rifles and sending red streaks down the corridor toward the gleaming figures in white and black. Roja joined the assault barely a second later; he was behind Namir, but Namir could hear his swift, ragged breathing and his boots shuffling on snow.
One stormtrooper fell. The others were parting almost before Namir had fired, scattering to the sides of the corridor and taking cover behind mounds of stone and ice and metal support beams.
Darth Vader stood untouched in the center of the passageway.
The black-clad figure resembled the bust from the Haidoral governor's mansion in the arc of his helmet and the mad angles of the polished mask. But the bust hadn't conveyed his height or the amorphous billow of his cloak. Red and green lights winked from the chest piece of his armor, making him resemble something built rather than born.
Yet he moved like a man: There was flesh beneath the armor, and flesh could be made to burn.
The stormtroopers moved with the surety of professional soldiers, returning fire as soon as they'd exited the kill zone. Namir ordered his own team to cover and dived behind a curtain of dangling, broken piping and a massive block of ice. He was shooting again before he'd checked the status of Beak or Roja or Chalis. Or Howl. But the captain, dead or alive, couldn't be Namir's priority.
The stormtroopers began to advance, dashing across the space of the passageway two at a time while the rest of their squad kept Namir and the others pinned. One took a bolt in the stomach, though Namir couldn't guess who made the kill. He managed to spare a glance to one side and saw that Beak had ended up opposite him, while Roja, Chalis, and Howl were huddled together a short distance to his rear.
He looked back to the corridor. The figure in black raised a hand as a crimson bolt flashed toward him. The bolt hit his hand and bounced off like a tossed pebble, striking the corridor wall and sending flakes of ice crumbling to the floor.
"Force field!" Namir called.
He'd never seen one built into armor before. Yet force fields could be broken.
The stormtroopers halted their advance long enough for Darth Vader to claim the vanguard, taking long, unhurried strides like an Imperial walker disdainful of the stings of rebel snowspeeders. He made no effort to find shelter. He held no weapon Namir could see. In the back of his brain, a voice told Namir that Vader wasn't a threat—he was a bogeyman, built and dressed to intimidate instead of fight—yet the front of his mind screamed not to let the armored figure close in.
"Concentrate fire!" Beak yelled. His voice was forceful but shaking, as if he was trying to convince himself. "Burn the shield out!"
"Don't." Namir heard Chalis's voice through the sound of rifle fire. "We need to go now."
The stormtroopers were advancing again behind Vader. Turning and retreating would leave Namir and the others exposed; pushing forward would kill them even faster. Beak's plan was their best chance. Namir swung his rifle toward Vader and pulled the trigger, holding it down and gripping the weapon's barrel with his free hand. The rifle tried to leap with every shot and the barrel grew hot against his gloved fingers. Between the dimness of the corridor and the red bursts before his eyes, Namir could barely make out his target. Beak was shooting, too—Namir could hear the sound of energized particles scorching cold air across the hall, but he didn't dare look. Vader didn't hesitate or fall. Instead,...