- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Feb 2007
From the book
Han Solo leaned forward in the pilot's seat of the Wayward Girl. "Entering atmosphere, Captain," he said. He watched the system's big, pale sun slip into the great curve of ruddy light at the world's edge and disappear behind the planet's limb. Bespin's huge, dark nightside loomed up to blot out the stars. Han checked his sensors. "They say Bespin's got some big flyin'--or should I say, floatin'--creatures in its atmosphere, so keep those forward shields at maximum strength."
One-handed, his co-pilot made an adjustment. "What's our ETA to Cloud City, Han?" she asked, a hint of strain in her voice.
"Not long now," Han replied reassuringly, as the Girl sliced into the upper atmosphere, swooping over the planet's dark pole, lightning far below making a flickering fog of dim light. "ETA twenty-six minutes. We ought to be in Cloud City in time to catch a late dinner."
"The sooner the better," she commented, grimacing as she flexed her right arm in its pressure-sling. "This thing itches like fury."
"Just hang on, Jadonna," Han said. "We'll get you straight to the med-facility."
She nodded. "Hey, Han, no complaints from me. You've done great. I'll just be glad to get this arm into bacta."
Han shook his head. "Ripped cartilage and ligaments . . . that's gotta hurt," he said. "But Cloud City's sure to have adequate meds."
She nodded. "Oh, they do. It's quite a place, Han. You'll see."
Jadonna Veloz was a short, stocky, dark-skinned woman with long, straight black hair. Han had met her two days ago, after she'd advertised from Alderaan on the spacer-nets for a pilot to fly her ship to Bespin. Veloz's arm had been injured when it was struck by a malfunctioning anti-grav loader, but, determined to meet her tight shipping deadline, she'd postponed real treatment until she delivered her cargo.
After paying Han's passage from Corellia on a fast shuttle to Alderaan, he'd taken over as pilot, and brought them to Bespin right on schedule.
The Wayward Girl was through the wispy exosphere now, and plunging deeper, moving toward the evening twilight, blue sky building above them. Han altered course, heading southwest, toward where the setting sun must be. As they streaked along, the tops of the piled, puffy masses of clouds far below began taking on colors, deep crimson and coral, then yellow-orange.
Han Solo had his own reasons for needing a ride to Bespin. If it hadn't been for Jadonna's ad on the nets, he'd have had to dip into his rapidly dwindling stash of credits to buy passage for himself on a commercial vessel.
Veloz's accident couldn't have come at a better time, as far as Han was concerned. With the credits she'd promised him, he'd be able to afford a cheap room and a few meals during the big sabacc tournament. The buy-in alone was a staggering ten thousand credits. Han had barely managed to scrape those credits together by fencing the small golden palador figurine he'd stolen from the Ylesian High Priest Teroenza, plus the dragon pearl he'd discovered in Admiral Greelanx's office.
The Corellian wished for a moment that Chewie was here with him, but he'd had to leave the Wookiee behind in their little flat on Nar Shaddaa because he couldn't afford to buy his passage.
They were deep into the atmosphere now, and Han could actually see Bespin's sun, a squashed looking orange ball just clearing a massive bank of clouds. The Girl was surrounded by a golden glory of heaped clouds--as golden as Han Solo's dreams of wealth.
Han was staking everything on this big gamble . . . and he'd always been lucky at sabacc. But would luck be enough to let him win? He'd be...