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Un extrait en français pour le roman The Living Force, de John Jackson Miller !
 
Jedi en mission, reprenez vos discussions
28/03/2024

Bien le bonjour tout le monde !

La sortie de The Living Force, nouveau roman de John Jackson Miller qui promet d'explorer le rôle du conseil Jedi à l'aube de la Menace Fantôme, est imminente, puisqu'il est prévu dans les pays anglophones pour le 9 avril !
Si vous trépignez d'impatience en attendant de vous plonger dans les mots familiers de JJM, voici un bref extrait du roman, juste assez pour donner l'eau à la bouche avec un aperçu de la relation Maître/Padawan entre Qui-Gon et Obi-Wan !

Evidemment, cet extrait contient de très légers spoilers si vous ne voulez rien connaître du roman avant de vous y plonger.

La date de sortie française n'est pas encore connue, mais pour le moment, découvrez cet extrait dans une traduction réalisée par les soins de votre serviteur, après un rappel de la (superbe !) couverture.


Par le passé, Qui-Gon Jinn encourageait son Padawan à profiter des moments les plus calmes de leurs voyages pour aller à la rencontre des gens. Le jeune homme n'avait pas de difficulté à ses faire des amis - Obi-Wan y démontrait même un don naturel. Mais les structures qui transformaient les Novices en Chevaliers Jedi avaient tendance à les isoler, leur donnant ainsi une mauvaise image de leur place dans la Galaxie. C'est la raison pour laquelle Qui-Gon choisissait souvent de voyager à bord de transports commerciaux, comme le mal-nommé Zephyr Royal, l'un des rares vaisseaux pour passagers desservant l'Ootmian Pabol, qui fut autrefois une des routes majeures reliant la Tranche et Coruscant. Un vol interminable à bord d'un vaisseau dont l'odeur rappelait celle d'un compacteur à ordures était à la fois humble, et porteur d'une certaine leçon d'humilité.

A droite de Qui-Gon, des portes s'ouvrirent. Obi-Wan et lui virent un homme hagard entrer depuis les cuisines, portant dans chaque bras un enfant qui se tortillait. Ignorant les deux Jedi alors qu'il passait péniblement devant eux, l'homme s'approcha d'une femme avec laquelle Obi-Wan avait parlé plus tôt. Après lui avoir passé un des gamins, il sortit une pochette de nourriture, une des maigres rations offertes par le concessionaire des cuisines. La famille semblait épuisée et affamée. Ils déchirèrent la pochette et la vidèrent en quelques secondes.

Qui-Gon traversa l'allée et s'approcha des jeunes parents. Il sortit une paire de tickets d'un pli de sa cape, et attira leur attention.

— Excusez-moi. Vous avez fait tomber vos bons de repas.
— Ils sont pas à moi, dit l'homme en le regardant. Je viens d'utiliser notre dernier. 
— Alors ils ont dûs se coller sous votre chaussure. Ce sont des choses qui arrivent, par ici. 

Il jeta un oeil aux enfants affamés, et reporta son attention sur les parents. 

— S'il vous plaît. Il ne faudrait pas les gaspiller. 

La mère méfiante les fixa un moment, avant de prendre les tickets. Elle se leva. Sa fille sur la hanche, elle trotina vers les cuisines. Qui-Gon se retira à sa place. 

Obi-Wan afficha un sourire narquois. 

— Nous sauterons le petit-déjeuner, dans ce cas. 
— Tu ne l'aurais pas apprécié. 
— Vous avez sûrement raison, répondit-il en scrutant les visages maussade autour de la cabine. J'ai peur de manquer encore de ce contact ordinaire, Maître. 
— Toujours à ressasser cette phrase, lança Qui-Gon en secouant la tête. Chaque être est ton supérieur, Obi-Wan. Souviens-t-en, et rendre service deviendra une seconde nature. 
— Je ne me lasse jamais de l'entendre, répliqua-t-il en repérant un autre siège libre, plus près de l'endroit où se tenait les deux Jedi. Retour dans la mêlée, dit-il en se redressant.
— Essaye d'y mettre un peu plus d'énergie cette fois. Les cuisines sont à court de caf.
— C'est comme si c'était fait !

Qui-Gon observa son apprenti s'avancer vaillamment et s'asseoir à côté d'une grande silhouette recroquevillée. Le Maître Jedi l'avait repéré plus tôt, un Houk massif, avec une peau parcheminée bleue, et ni nez ni oreilles apparents. Tout cela n'était plus visible désormais, le passager s'étant enveloppé dans une cape et un capuchon – un choix étrange, compte tenu de la chaleur qui régnait dans la cabine.

— Salut à toi ! lui adressa Obi-Wan en adoptant un sourire facécieux, après avoir vérifié que le Houk ne s'était pas assoupi. 

Ses yeux jaunes perçants s’écarquillèrent. Le colosse grogna et se releva brusquement, dominant Obi-Wan par sa stature imposante. Le Houk jeta sa cape pour révéler un blaster sanglé sur son torse.

Les yeux d'Obi-Wan s'écarquillèrent. 

— Si vous vouliez que je vous laisse traquille, vous n'aviez qu'à le dire.
— Silence ! cria le Houk en se tournant pour faire face au reste de la cabine. Maintenant !

Deux autres passagers encapuchonés se levèrent et se débarassèrent de leurs déguisements. Un Kaltooinien au visage barré d'une cicatrice et un Dévaronien cornu attrapèrent leurs armes. Ce dernier eut son blaster en main en premier.

— Personne ne bouge ! cria-t-il dans un éclat de ses yeux dorés et de ses crocs acérés. 

Qui-Gon vit Obi-Wan commencer à se redresser, puis se raviser. Son Padawan le regarda. Qui-Gon porta sa main près de son sabre laser, toujours caché sous sa tunique, mais lui aussi marqua une pause. Il lança un coup d'oeil, et savait que son élève en comprendrait le sens. Pas d'effusion de sang. Pas avec autant d'innocents autour, n'ayant nul part où se réfugier.

— Qu'est-ce que ça signifie ? demanda un vieux passager. 
— Permettez-moi de me présenter, dit le Dévaronien en secouant son blaster. Je suis le Lambin. Eh oui, ce Lambin là. Ce vaisseau est désormais sous le contrôle du Vil. 

Le Vil. Qui-Gon en avait entendu parler comme étant l'un des nombreux gangs interstellaires actifs dans la Tranche, l'étendue triangulaire colossale de systèmes qui s'étendait des Mondes du Noyau jusquà la Bordure Extérieure. Ce n'était pas un groupe dont beaucoup de gens sur Coruscant avaient entendu parler, et ce n'était sans doute pas le meilleur nom pour engager de nouvelles recrues. Mais les passagers semblaient savoir clairement de quoi il en retournait, au vue de leurs réactions angoissées. 

Le nom sembla perturber quelqu'un d'autre. 

— Le Vil ? demanda le Houk qui se tenait près d'Obi-Wan. Je croyais qu'on faisait ça pour les Crânes !
— Les Crânes ? grogna le Klatooinien à voix basse. On en a déjà parlé, Ghor. Le gang des Crédits Sales payera plus que ces deux là. 
— La ferme Wungo ! cracha Lambin en pointant son blaster vers le Klatooininen. Garde ça jusqu'à ce qu'on en ait terminé.

Les Crânes Fracassés. Les Crédits Sales. Qui-Gon connaissait ces noms. Des opérations d'une pègre régionale qui agissait de plus en plus à découvert. Il déplaça subrepticement la malette métallique avec laquelle il voyageait sous le siège voisin. Il y avait une ouverture ici, le Maître Jedi le savait. Il lui suffisait juste de la trouver. 

— C'est de la folie ! déclara le jeune père en serrant son fils en pleurs contre lui. Nous n'avons rien à voler !
— C'est assez évident, oui, lança Lambin en agitant son blaster vers le plafond. Nous volons le vaisseau. Ghor, tu sais quoi faire, ajouta-t-il en pointant le Houk. 

Ghor attrapa un sac en toile vide sous son siège et se dirigea vers l'allée.

— Toutes les armes vont là-dedans. 

Il s'était détourné d'Obi-Wan. C'était une opportunité, pensa Qui-Gon, mais il était encore trop tôt pour agir. Wungo le Klatooinien se déplaçait aussi, avec son propre sac, récupérant les objets de valeur. 

— Vous venez de dire que vous ne vouliez que le vaisseau ! rugit un passager Rodien.
— La ferme ! aboya Wungo. 
— Qu... que va-t-il nous arriver ? se lamenta un vieux passager.
— On va vous déposer à l'arrêt le plus proche, ricana Lambin. 
— Où ça ? Qu'est-ce qu'il y aura là-bas ? demanda le jeune père. 
— Arrêtez de geindre ! lança le Dévaronien en élevant la voix, visiblement agité. Vous avez de la chance qu'on vous balance pas tous par le sas !

Qui-Gon en avait vu et entendu assez. Les pirates n'avaient aucun plan, ni aucune idée de qui était leur commanditaire. L'amateurisme était souvent synonyme d'imprudence, et amènerait des blessés, s'il n'agissait pas vite et intelligemment. Il lança un nouveau coup d'oeil vers son Padawan et fit un pas pour s'éloigner de la cloison. 

— Mes amis, tout cela n'est pas nécessaire, déclara-t-il calmement, en plaçant ses mains ouvertes face à lui. 
— T'es qui, toi ? lança Lambin en lui lançant un regard noir. 
— Juste un passager qui aspire à un voyage plaisant, répondit-il en croisant les bras. Je ne veux voir personne être blessé. 
— La seule personne qui sera blessée, c'est toi !
— Très bien, héros. Où est ton blaster ? demanda Ghor en pointant son arme vers Qui-Gon.
— Je fais généralement sans. 
— T'es si fort que ça, hein ? s'esclaffa le colosse. 
— Donne une bonne leçon au grand héros, grogna Lambin, et rejoins le cockpit.
— Mais c'est toi qui sait comment piloter, dit Ghor.
— Contente-toi d'obéir.

Les compagnons de Lambin avait commencé à s'approcher de Qui-Gon lorsque les portes des cuisines derrière lui s'ouvrirent. Il jeta un regard en arrière et vit la mère tenant son enfant agité. Elle avança de trois pas avant de voir les blasters se tourner dans sa direction. 

— Leerah, vas-t-en ! cria son mari. 

Prise de panique, elle trébucha sur le seuil et perdit l'équilibre. Sa fille glissa de ses bras et tomba vers le pont métallique. La femme hurla. 

Elle se redressa rapidement, et regarda avec émerveillement ce qui était arrivé à sa progéniture. La fillette était suspendue la tête en bas, flottant dans les airs, si près du sol que ses cheveux le frôlaient.

— C'est une habitude de laisser tomber ses affaires, par ici, dit Qui-Gon, une main tendue face à lui. 

La petite fille ria aux éclats jusqu'à ce que sa mère la prenne dans ses bras. 

Tous les autres dans la cabine fixaient la scène, comme envoûtés, mais les plus captivés étaient indénaiblement les pirates.

— C'est un Jedi ! lacha Lambin, bouche bée.
— En réalité, c'est même un Maître Jedi, lança Obi-Wan en se levant de son siège. Et pas n'importe quel Maître Jedi. On lui a déjà proposé de siéger au Conseil Jedi. Vous savez ce que ça implique ? 

Son froncement de sourcils indiqua qu'il le savait en effet. 

— Ce sont les meilleurs... les boss.
— Alors qu'est-ce qu'il fiche ici ? demanda Ghor en fixant Qui-Gon. 
— Il a refusé, répondit Obi-Wan. Il pensait que ça l'éloignerait de sa principale activité. 
— Qui est... ?
— La sécurité des aéronefs commerciales. Il n'y a jamais eu un seul détournement sous sa garde. 
— La sécurité ? grogna Ghor. Les Jedi ne font pas ce genre de choses. Ils ne le font pas , n'est-ce pas ? demanda-t-il en se tournant vers le Dévaronien. 
— Bien sûr que non, ricana Lambin. Les Jedi se préoccupent à peine de cette route ces derniers temps. 
— Et pourtant, nous sommes là, dit Qui-Gon. 
— Vous avez vu comment il l'a faite flotter ? bafouilla Wungo alors que ses yeux passaient de Qui-Gon à la fillette qu'il avait sauvée. Je ne savais pas qu'ils pouvaient faire ça.
— Les Jedi sont rarement très démonstratifs, dit Obi-Wan en avançant d'un pas. Mais les nouvelles circulent vite. Je suis sûr que vous avez entendu les rumeurs. 
— Quelle rumeurs ? demanda Lambin, perplexe. 
— Celles qui parlent des pouvoires secrets des Jedi. Certains sont assez incroyables. Ils peuvent vous débarasser de votre arme en à peine quelques mots, par exemple. 
— Ah bon ? grogna Ghor en resserrant sa poigne sur son blaster. 
— Je n'en ferai rien, annonça Qui-Gon en secouant la tête. Ni ça, ni rien de plus... tape-à-l'oeil. 
— Comme quoi ? s'interrogea Wungo.
— Ne vous en faites pas pour ça, répondait Qui-Gon en joignant ses mains. Quelle est le nom de la planète où vous comptiez débarquer tout le monde ? 
— Randon, répondit lambin. 
Formidable. Je m'assurerai que le pilote s'y arrête. Vous y débarquerez tous les trois, et vous y trouverez un moyen de retourner là d'où vous venez. Dans un vaisseau sur lequel vous avez la permission d'embarquer, ajouta-t-il en levant un sourcil. 
— Débarquer ? répéta Lambin.
— Ca veut dire foutez le camps, lança Obi-Wan. 
— Je sais ce que... commença le Dévaronien avant de s'interrompre et de s'esclaffer. On ne quittera pas de ce vaisseau. 
— Oh je pense que vous voudrez le quitter. 
— Et si on reste ? 
— Ce serait une alternative... fâcheuse, dit Qui-Gon. Mon collègue peut en attester, ajoutat-t-il en se tournant vers Obi-Wan. 
— Vous êtes collègues ? demanda Ghor en suivant le regard de Qui-Gon. 

Obi-Wan s'inclina. 

— Un autre Chevalier Jedi ? demanda Lambin.
— En quelques sortes, répondi- Obi-Wan en agitant sa tresse de Padawan. C'est compliqué. 

Lambin jura en regardant autour de lui. 

— Génial. Il y en a d'autres comme ça ? 
— Oublie ça, le coupa Wungo. Je veux en savoir plus sur cette "alternative fâcheuse". 
— Je n'en suis pas si sûr, répondit Obi-Wan avec une appréhension manifeste. Maître, dites moi qui vous n'envisagez pas de faire ce que je crois ? Je n'ai pas envie de devoir nettoyer ensuite, ajouta-t-il en grimaçant et frissonant. 
— Je n'ai pas dit que c'était quelque chose dont j'avais envie, dit Qui-Gon en secouant la tête. C'est un dernier recours. 
— Un autre tour secret des Jedi ? s'interrogea Lambin. Pourquoi est-ce que je n'en ai jamais entendu parler ? 
— Excellente question ! dit Obi-Wan. Quelles seraient les raisons pour que tu n'en ai jamais entendu parler ? 
— Il n'existe pas !
— Ou bien... ?

Les trois pirates mirent un moment à cogiter. Wungo assembla les pièces en premier. 

— Personne n'y a jamais survécu ? 
— Certainement. Je devrais même dire, assurément, ajouta Qui-Gon en lançant à Obi-Wan un regard inquiet.
— Et même si vous y surviviez... je ne souhaite vraiment ça à personne, murmura Obi-Wan dans un haut-le-coeur. 
— C'est bon, je me tire, lança Wungo en baissant son blaster. 
— Ouais, continua Ghor en suivant le mouvement. J'arrête là. 
— Mais de quoi est-ce que vous parlez ? hurla Lambin, hors de lui. Vous bossez pour moi. On a qu'à les buter !
— Ou alors on te bute toi, aboya Ghor en levant à nouveau son blaster, cette fois vers Lambin. Qui a décidé que ce serait toi le chef, d'abord ? 
— Il n'y a pas besoin d'en arriver là, l'interrompit Qui-Gon en levant les mains. Il y a un autre moyen. 
— Pour commencer, nous aurons besoin de ces armes, ajouta Obi-Wan en tendant une main vers Ghor. Pour les mettre sous bonne garde. 

Un extrait présentant donc une forme de complicité Maître/Padawan, où les deux Jedi se jouent d'un piètre groupe de pirates, cherchant à les intimider plutôt que de provoquer un bain de sang... la caractérisation très calme de Qui-Gon et celle plus espiègle d'un jeune Obi-Wan me semblent très bien retranscrites, ça fait toujours plaisir de voir ces deux là interagir, mais j'avoue que le roman m'attire davantage pour les membres du Conseil Jedi !
(on remarquera en revanche qu'avec le temps, Obi-Wan a un peu oublié les enseignements de son maître... "Pas d'effusion de sang. Pas avec autant d'innocents autour, n'ayant nul part où se réfugier", il prendra pas autant de précaution quand il s'agira de découper des bras au beau milieu d'une cantina, en pleine période d'occupation impériale...)

Rendez-vous sur le forum pour discuter de ce futur roman, et à très bientôt !

Parution : 28/03/2024
Source : le site officiel
Validé par : Adanedhel
Section : Littérature > Romans
On en parle sur nos forums
 
Les 10 derniers messages (voir toutes les réponses) :
  • 10/09/2023 - 12:18
    Quand même ça fait un petit choc de voir Del Rey être remplacé après 24 ans de bons et loyaux services. :( :jap: Quand bien même ça reste une autre succursale de la même boîte.
  • 10/09/2023 - 13:13
    JediLord a écrit:Quand même ça fait un petit choc de voir Del Rey être remplacé après 24 ans de bons et loyaux services. :( :jap: Quand bien même ça reste une autre succursale de la même boîte.


    C'est une restructuration interne, l'équipe Del Rey SW et celle de Random House Worlds reste la même.
  • 10/09/2023 - 13:38
    C'est pas comme le passage Bantam -> Del Rey où tout le roster a changé quasiment.
  • 24/01/2024 - 19:38
    La première page du bouquin, avec le logo qui fait quand même super plaisir ! :love:

    [Spoiler=]Image[/Spoiler]

    Sortie toujours prévue le 09/04.
  • 26/02/2024 - 20:13
    Un extrait (en VO) du roman !

    Spoiler: Afficher
    After being challenged by Qui-Gonn Jinn about the state of the Jedi Order’s presence in the galaxy, the Jedi Council deliberates on their future, by looking to their past.

    “I thank all of you.” Qui-Gon bowed. He started to turn to leave the Council Chamber—only to gesture with his hands. “Help one person. A Jedi needs no permission for that.”

    “It seems we have been given a challenge,” Mace said with no little amusement after the doors closed behind Qui-Gon. “I can’t imagine how improving lives never occurred to us.”

    Light laughter followed—but not from everyone. “We all respect Master Qui-Gon,” Ki-Adi-Mundi said. “But we have heard this before from him, many times.” He crossed his arms. “The Jedi Order serves society—but it is not a government agency.”

    Yoda looked up from his contemplation. “Not of the Order does Qui-Gon speak. He means individual Jedi.”

    Ki-Adi-Mundi nodded deferentially. “It is true—stories of Jedi who are isolated from the Order have always fascinated him. And his master, too, if I recall. They show what good could be done without our cares of state. But members of the Jedi Council are capable of considering the galactic and the local. Indeed, it is our job.”

    Saesee shrugged. “This is classic Qui-Gon. Nothing new.”

    “I disagree,” Mace said, pausing a moment as he mused. “This was different. We are different.”

    The others stared at him in surprise. Depa looked at him searchingly. “Go on, Master.”

    Mace looked around. “You all know I protect the traditions of the Order. There is wisdom in them. And yet even I can see it: We rarely act as individuals. Our responsibilities mount—but this body remains the same size. Members of the Council are bound to Coruscant more than ever before.” He gestured to the holographic figures. “Just three of us are away—and only Master Billaba is undertaking investigative work.”

    “And I have spent three hours in hiding attending this meeting,” Depa said. “And forgive me—but only now, near the end, have we come to the productive part.”

    “A part that was never on the agenda,” Yaddle said. She looked to the center of the room. “Qui-Gon sees our condition clearly. But I am not sure what to prescribe.”

    Adi Gallia raised her datapad and spoke with hesitation. “I’m reluc­tant to bring matters back to business, but the chancellor’s office pro­vided us this year’s final list of suggestions regarding Jedi assets.”

    Piell snorted. “Final as a politician’s promise.”

    Mace waved his hand. All the members had a good understanding of the nature of the Senate, and a healthy skepticism. He quite agreed with Piell. But calling attention to that served no purpose at the moment. “Continue, Master Gallia.”

    “We covered the locations where the Senate expects growth,” Adi said, “where its requests for Jedi aid are likely to expand. As usual when that happens, we compile a list of outposts that Jedi no longer frequent, either for research or for other activities, to balance the need.”

    “Our study has been completed?” Mace asked.

    “Just now.” She read as information scrolled across her datapad screen. “Janaus. Lesser Tontakoh. Barayfe.”

    Yarael chortled. “Does anyone live in those places?”

    Adi paused, and her eyes widened.

    “What is it?” Mace asked.

    She looked up. “Kwenn.”

    Stunned silence.

    Oppo was the first to break it with a half-whispered “No.”

    His shock was shared by Council members young and old. “That one’s been open for nearly two hundred years,” Piell said.

    “Almost exactly,” Eeth responded. “This would have been the bicen­tennial of its founding.”

    “Present, several of us were,” Yoda said. “A symbol, at the edge of Hutt space.”

    Plo nodded. “A grand gesture. It showed there was no place we would not go.”

    “And it crowned what was yet another great achievement, on the planet itself,” Yaddle said. “A monumental work that this Order—including one of us here—had much to do with.”

    Her eyes turned to Oppo—as did those of several others who knew his role. But the holographic figure appeared lost in thought. “Many were involved,” he finally said, before looking away.

    Even the more taciturn members seemed affected by the news. “I first visited Kwenn as a Padawan,” Saesee recalled.

    “We have all visited,” Ki-Adi-Mundi added. “Some, many times.”

    Yarael seemed thunderstruck. “I loved the repertory theater there.”

    Mace couldn’t argue with the others’ concerns, but he also couldn’t help but notice something. “Our experiences there are many. But how recent are any of them?”

    “Not very,” Adi said after consulting the study. “The surrounding sys­tems haven’t had active relic excavations in years, and our missions in the area have declined just as trade has. And leaving facilities in unsta­ble regions unattended for too long puts the materials inside them at risk.”

    Mace nodded. “That’s why we closed Tharben and Keldooine—and just now, Ord Jannak. Those I understood. But has Kwenn changed so?”

    Adi tilted her head. “Between pirates and taxes, the Ootmian route is out of favor. Traffic at the Kwenn Space Station is down; I suspect the same for the planet below. Corporations leave, then the people. That’s what Master Qui-Gon saw.”

    Piell raised a holographic finger. “You missed a step. We leave. Then the people leave.” The eye-patch-wearing Lannik spoke about his recent experiences. “Qui-Gon’s not the only one who’s witnessed it. I’ve seen people flocking toward the Core on that route the whole time I’ve been on Yitabo.”

    Mace was going to ask Depa for her observations when he noticed his onetime student looking behind her. “Is something wrong, Master Billaba?”

    “I may be called away here at any minute,” Depa said, speaking quickly. “But I fear the closure of the Kwenn outpost may embolden the criminal element there. It happened when we closed the site at Keldooine—and I am seeing the result now.” A beep sounded from her location. “I must go.”

    “May the Force be with you,” Mace said, but her image disappeared before he finished the sentence.

    Eeth took a breath. “If we close the Kwenn outpost—”

    “That has not been decided,” Oppo interjected.

    “Of course,” Eeth corrected himself. “I simply meant to say that if we agree with the study suggesting closure, it would affect one who is not a Jedi: the caretaker.”

    Several reacted with recognition, including Yarael. “Ah, the sene­schal. I haven’t seen him in years.” He looked to Adi. “Wait. The site isn’t unattended!”

    “True,” she said, “but our report finds he is nearly incapable of con­tinuing his duties. And no suitable alternative is likely to be found. It is a solitary existence.”

    “Voh has been there most of his life,” Yoda said. “Hard news, this would be.”

    Oppo nodded. “If anyone deserves to learn of it directly, it is Sene­schal Voh.”

    Yaddle looked to the space vacated by Depa’s image. “So many of our meetings were once face-to-face.” She bowed her head, and a pall fell over her companions.

    Part of Mace’s mind was still on Depa’s abrupt departure, and what that might portend for her mission. But he had been listening, and struggling with all the issues that had been put before them.

    His eyes widened, and Yoda saw it. “I know that look, Master Windu. A plan, you have.”

    “Indeed.” Mace clasped his hands together. “Let us visit the outpost on Kwenn.”

    The others stared at him.

    Adi responded by consulting her datapad. “That . . . could be diffi­cult. But let me see who’s available. Maybe someone can get away.”

    “Not someone,” Mace said, raising his index finger. “All of us.”

    His words startled many. “All?” Oppo asked.

    “We will reconvene there, in person. We will meet the people, learn about their lives, and show our support. Both individually—and col­lectively, in public commemoration of the anniversary of the outpost’s founding.”

    Saesee looked puzzled. “Celebrate the founding of the outpost—just to close it?”

    Eeth pointed out what he’d just been reminded of—that no decision had been made. “But are we being honest? Closure has been recom­mended by our own researchers.”

    “People we trust,” Ki-Adi-Mundi said. “Sentiment and nostalgia should not lead us to ignore them. Nor is it right to deceive the people of Kwenn.”

    “There is no deception,” Yaddle said. “We truly wish to celebrate—and we might learn something that alters our view.”

    Yoda nodded. “Change, Kwenn’s destiny could.”

    Adi looked concerned. She spoke tentatively. “The chancellor will have received a copy of our study. It’s a courtesy. You know the Senate wants us committing our attentions elsewhere—and they know we al­ways follow our researchers’ leads. They might not understand why we’re not doing so now.”

    Saesee snorted. He looked around. “I don’t seem to see the chancel­lor’s seat in here.”

    Yaddle nodded. “The Senate and the Jedi are allies. But we keep our own counsel.”

    Mace agreed. “Master Tiin is correct—we can do more than one thing at a time. Even as we meet the people of Kwenn, we can identify the artifacts we need to retrieve in advance of any closure.”

    “It is a big outpost,” Yarael said. “Room for all of us.”

    Plo glanced about. “I doubt there will be enough provisions for a group our size.”

    “No problem,” Piell said. “I’m nearby, remember? Yitabo is the larder for half the worlds around. I’ll stock up here.”

    Yaddle clasped her hands together in delight. “Answering the call. It feels right.”

    Her trepidation passing, Adi concurred. “It would be good to get away from this thing for a while.” She plopped her datapad in her lap.

    Mace heard nothing but agreement from the others. “It is decided. We will make our own ways there—arriving as we can. Master Depa will be apprised as well.”[

    “We will see the people of Kwenn—and they will see us,” Yaddle said. “And they will hear our message: The Jedi stand with you.”


    Avec la carte qui va bien de Kwenn, justement :

    Image
  • 27/03/2024 - 13:34
    Un autre extrait du roman ! :)

    Spoiler: Afficher
    In the past, Qui-Gon Jinn had encouraged his Padawan to use the quieter moments on their journeys to get to know people. To connect with them. It wasn’t that the young man had problems making friends; Obi-Wan had a natural ability in that regard. But the structures that turned younglings into Jedi Knights also tended to isolate them—and that could give them the wrong idea about their places in the galaxy. That was why Qui-Gon often chose commercial transport, such as the inaccurately named Regal Zephyr, one of a dwindling number of pas­senger vessels serving the Ootmian Pabol, once a key route leading from the Slice to Coruscant. A seemingly endless flight aboard a ship that smelled like a trash compactor was both humble—and humbling.

    Doors opened on Qui-Gon’s right. He and Obi-Wan watched as a haggard man entered from the galley, carrying a squirm­ing child in each arm. Ignoring the two Jedi as he trudged past, the man approached a woman Obi-Wan had spoken with. After passing a tod­dler to her, he displayed a single food pouch, one of the meager rations offered by the galley concessionaire. The reunited family looked ex­hausted but also hungry. They tore into the pouch and emptied it in seconds.

    Qui-Gon walked down the aisle and approached the young parents. He drew a pair of tokens from the folds of his cloak and got their atten­tion. “Pardon me. You dropped your meal vouchers.”

    “Those aren’t mine,” the man said, eyeing him. “I just used our last one.”

    “Then these must have stuck to your shoe. Easy to believe, around here.” He looked to the hungry children—and back to their parents. “Please. They shouldn’t go to waste.”

    The wary mother stared for a moment before taking the tokens. She rose. Daughter on her hip, she trotted off to the galley. Qui-Gon re­treated to his previous station.

    Obi-Wan smirked. “We’ll be skipping breakfast, then.”

    “You wouldn’t have enjoyed it.”

    “You’re probably right.” He surveyed the surly faces around the cabin. “I’m afraid I lack the common touch, Master.”

    “There’s that phrase again.” Qui-Gon shook his head. “Every being is your better, Obi-Wan. Remember that, and service becomes second na­ture.”

    “I never tire of hearing that one.” Obi-Wan spied another open seat, nearer to where the two Jedi stood. He straightened. “Back into the fray.”

    “Try a bit more energy this time. The galley’s out of caf.”

    “Done.”

    Qui-Gon watched as his apprentice gamely stepped over and sat be­side a large huddled figure. The Jedi Master had seen him earlier: a mas­sive member of the Houk species, with leathery blue skin and no apparent ears or nose. None of that was visible now, as he was wrapped in a cape and cowl—odd choices, given the warmth in the cabin.

    Checking quickly to ensure that the Houk wasn’t asleep, Obi-Wan adopted an antic smile and addressed the passenger. “Hello there!”

    Beady yellow eyes went wide. The bruiser growled—and abruptly rose to his towering height. The Houk threw off his cloak to reveal a blaster holstered to his chest.

    Obi-Wan’s eyes widened. “If you wanted to be left alone, you only had to say so.”

    “Quiet!” The muscular Houk turned to face the rest of the cabin and shouted, “Now!”

    Two more cloaked passengers rose and shed their disguises. A scar-faced Klatooinian and a horned Devaronian reached for their weapons. The latter had his blaster in his hand first. Golden eyes and sharp fangs flashed as he shouted, “Nobody move!”

    Qui-Gon saw Obi-Wan start to rise—only to pause. His Padawan looked instead to him. Qui-Gon had his hand near his lightsaber, still hidden inside his robe—but he, too, waited. He shot a look he knew his student would understand. No bloodshed. Not with so many innocents about, with nowhere to go.

    “What’s the meaning of this?” an elderly passenger demanded.

    The Devaronian waved his blaster. “Lemme introduce myself. I’m The Lobber—that’s right, that Lobber. This ship is now under the con­trol of the Vile!”

    The Vile. Qui-Gon knew it as one of several interstellar gangs active in the Slice, the colossal wedge-shaped fan of star systems stretching from the Core Worlds to the Outer Rim. It wasn’t an outfit many from Coruscant would have heard of, and it didn’t sound like a great name for recruiting purposes. But clearly the passengers knew what it was, given their anxious reactions.

    The name also seemed to unsettle someone else: the Houk standing near Obi-Wan. “The Vile?” he asked. “I thought we were doing this for the Skulls.”

    “The Skulls?” the Klatooinian grumbled in a low voice. “We talked about this, Ghor. The Filthy Cred gang will pay more than either.”

    “Shut up, Wungo.” Lobber waved his blaster at the Klatooinian. “Save it until we’re done.”

    The Staved Skulls. The Filthy Creds. Qui-Gon knew the names. More operations from a regional underworld that was increasingly aboveground. He surreptitiously nudged the metal case he’d been traveling with under a nearby seat. There was a play here, the Jedi Master knew. He just had to find it.

    “This is madness,” the young father declared, clutching his wailing son. “We’ve got nothing to steal!”

    “That’s obvious enough.” Lobber gestured to the ceiling with his blaster. “We’re stealing the ship.” He pointed to the Houk. “Ghor, you know what to do.”

    Ghor grabbed an empty canvas bag from beside his seat and moved into the aisle with it. “Any weapons, give ’em.” He had turned away from Obi-Wan—a stroke of luck, Qui-Gon thought—but it was still too soon to act. Wungo the Klatoonian was in motion, too, with a sack of his own—only he was demanding valuables.

    “You just said you only wanted the ship,” a Rodian passenger snarled.

    Wungo snapped, “Shut up!”

    An elderly traveler began to weep. “What—what’s to happen to us?”

    Lobber laughed. “We’re going to put you all out at the nearest stop.”

    “Where?” the young father asked. “What’s for us there?”

    Flustered, the Devaronian raised his voice. “Quit your moaning. You’re lucky we don’t just space you all!”

    Qui-Gon had seen and heard enough. The hijackers had no plan or even any agreement on whom they worked for. Amateurism often meant recklessness and the potential for harm—if he didn’t act quickly and smartly. He cast another look he knew his Padawan would recog­nize and took a step from the bulkhead.

    Putting his open hands before him, he spoke calmly. “My friends, there’s no need for this.”

    Lobber glowered at him. “Who are you?”

    “Just someone who wants a pleasant ride.” Qui-Gon crossed his arms. “I don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”

    “The only person who’ll get hurt is you,” Lobber declared.

    Ghor pointed his weapon at Qui-Gon. “All right, brave guy. Where’s your blaster?”

    “I usually do without one.”

    The giant guffawed. “You’re that good, eh?”

    Lobber snarled. “Teach the big hero a lesson—then get to the cockpit.”

    “You’re the one who knows how to fly,” Ghor said.

    “Just do it!”

    Lobber’s companions had only started to advance toward Qui-Gon when the door to the galley behind him opened. He looked back to see the mother holding her squirming child. She was three steps inside when she saw the blasters being raised in her direction.

    “Leerah, go back!” her husband shouted. Panicked, she took a wrong step back across the threshold and lost her balance, causing her daugh­ter to slip from her hands and tumble toward the metal deck. The woman shrieked.

    Righting herself quickly, she stared up in marvel at what had hap­pened to her daughter. The toddler bobbed upside down, floating in the air so close to the floor her hair brushed against it.

    “People keep dropping things around here,” Qui-Gon said, his hand poised in the air.

    The little girl giggled in delight until her mother snapped her up.

    The others in the cabin watched, spellbound—but none with more interest than the hijackers. Lobber’s mouth hung open. “He’s a Jedi!”

    “Actually,” Obi-Wan said, “he’s a Jedi Master.” He rose from his seat. “And not just any Jedi Master. They once asked him to be on the Jedi Council. Have you heard of that?”

    Lobber’s frown indicated he had. “They’re supposed to be the best. The bosses.”

    Ghor stared at Qui-Gon. “Then what’s he doing out here?”

    “He told them no,” Obi-Wan replied. “He thought it would take time away from his major pursuit.”

    “Which is?”

    “Commercial spacecraft security. There’s never been a single hijack­ing on his watch.”

    Ghor snorted. “Security! Jedi don’t do that kind of stuff.” He looked to the Devaronian. “They don’t. Do they?”

    “Of course not.” Lobber sneered. “The Jedi barely bother with this route these days.”

    “And yet here we are,” Qui-Gon said.

    Wungo looked in panic between Qui-Gon and the girl he’d res­cued. “Did you see how he made her float? I didn’t know they could do that.”

    “Jedi don’t go around showing off,” Obi-Wan said, stepping forward. “But word gets around. I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors.”

    Lobber frowned. “What rumors?”

    “Of secret Jedi powers. Some are quite amazing. Disarming you of your weapon with just a few words, for example.”

    Ghor gripped his blaster more tightly. “Is that so?”

    Qui-Gon shook his head. “I won’t be doing that. Or anything . . . flashier.”

    Wungo stared. “Like what?”

    “Don’t worry yourself.” Qui-Gon clasped his hands together. “What was the planet called where you were going to drop everyone off?”

    Lobber had the answer. “Randon.”

    “Wonderful. I’ll make sure the pilot stops there. And then you three will disembark—and find passage back to wherever you came from.” He raised an eyebrow. “Hopefully, on a vessel you have permission to board.”

    “‘Disembark’?” Lobber repeated.

    “That means get off,” Obi-Wan interjected.

    “I know what it—” The Devaronian stopped himself and laughed. “We’re not getting off this ship.”

    “Oh, I think you’ll definitely want to.”

    “And if we don’t?”

    “The alternative is . . . unpleasant,” Qui-Gon said. He looked to Obi-Wan. “My colleague can attest to that.”

    Ghor followed Qui-Gon’s eyes. “You’re his colleague?”

    Obi-Wan bowed.

    “Another Jedi Knight?” Lobber asked.

    “Sort of.” Obi-Wan flicked at his Padawan braid. “It’s complicated.”

    Lobber swore and looked about. “Great. Any more around here?”

    “Forget that,” Wungo said. “I still wanna know about this ‘unpleasant alternative.’ ”

    “I’m not sure you do,” Obi-Wan responded, with visible apprehen­sion. “Master, tell me you’re not considering doing what I think you are.” He winced and gave a shudder. “I would rather not have to clean up the mess.”

    “I didn’t say it was something I preferred,” Qui-Gon said, shaking his head. “It’s a last resort.”

    Lobber looked unconvinced. “Another secret thing Jedi know how to do? Why have I never heard of it?”

    “An excellent question,” Obi-Wan said. “Is there a reason you might not have heard of it?”

    “It doesn’t exist!”

    “Or?”

    It took a beat for the three hijackers to work it out. Wungo had it first. “Nobody you’ve ever done this thing to has survived?”

    “Certainly not.” Qui-Gon glanced uneasily at Obi-Wan. “I should say definitely not.”

    Obi-Wan looked sick. “I mean, even if you did survive, you really wouldn’t want to.”

    Wungo lowered his blaster. “That’s it. I’m out.”

    “Yeah,” Ghor said, following suit. “I’m not doing this.”

    Lobber was beside himself. “What are you fools talking about? You work for me. We just shoot them!”

    “Or maybe we shoot you,” Ghor barked. His blaster rose again—this time, pointed at Lobber. “Who put you in charge, anyway?”

    Qui-Gon raised his hands. “There’s no need for any of that. There’s a way out.”

    “For starters, we’ll need those weapons,” Obi-Wan added. He ap­proached Ghor and opened his hand. “For safekeeping.”
  • 28/03/2024 - 14:50
  • 28/03/2024 - 17:09
    Merci pour la trad :jap:. Juste un détail : aéronef :? ? Je dirais plutôt astronef dans SW, non ? :)

    Et le bras coupé dans ANH, il y a bien longtemps que les fans et l'UE s'efforcent de l'oublier :D
  • 28/03/2024 - 17:49
    GTZL1 a écrit:Merci pour la trad :jap:. Juste un détail : aéronef :? ? Je dirais plutôt astronef dans SW, non ? :)

    C'est le mot que j'avais en tête oui, mon clavier a fourché :paf:
  • 04/04/2024 - 18:45
    On continue avec les extraits : en voilà 2 autres, bien évidemment en VO ! :)

    Spoiler: Afficher
    After collecting intel on increasingly severe pirate activity in a desperate part of the galaxy, Jedi Master Depa Billaba goes undercover to investigate, operating under a secret identity, the thief known as "Hotwire." As she works to infiltrate the pirate gangs, she meets a young thief named Kylah.

    Where is that girl?

    Depa Billaba didn't know the answer, but it was far from the only question on her mind. The impromptu Jedi Council meeting had given her a lot more to think about. It was the first time she’d ever attended one while seated in the cargo area of a speeder truck. At least now she was in the front seat, though she was still in the dark, both literally and figuratively.

    The Slice extended inward from Hutt space, stretching along the trade routes toward the Core like a dagger pointed at the heart of the galaxy. No sensible Hutt would act directly in the region, but all the local privateers seemed to be auditioning for jobs with them, banking on a future without the Republic and the Jedi to interfere. The Hutts were inevitable, the thinking went. It was just a matter of time before the gangs in the region became their subsidiaries.

    But tantalizing intel had been developed by a student Depa had once tutored, the late, lamented Xaran Raal. One pirate band in the region alone had no ties to the Hutts at all, overt or otherwise: the Riftwalkers. The newest and, from all reports, the most intrepid of the gangs, led by someone called Zilastra. Most in the local underworld knew her name, if little beyond that — other than that she played for keeps, while also reportedly playing a blisteringly good game of sabacc.

    Depa had committed to remedy that lack of information. There was no question of a single Jedi, even a member of the Jedi Council, bringing a multiplanet operation like the Riftwalkers to justice. But the leader of such a group could not remain a cipher. Maz Kanata, who had ruled from her castle for centuries, had shown that a pirate state was not always the worst neighbor to have. Whether a "Queen Zilastra" would be another Maz was in the vital security interests of the Republic to know.

    And Depa's best connection to find out was twelve years old. And running late.

    Where is she? Depa checked the vehicle’s monitors for the umpteenth time before deciding to stand outside the vehicle. This must be what it’s like to be a parent waiting to pick up a child.

    Then again, the trash-filled backstreet outside the spaceport after midnight was no educational institution, and Kylah was no student — unless larceny was the subject. And the blaster shots Depa now heard signaled that school was still in session.

    "Hotwire!" Kylah yelled.

    Depa saw the girl dashing toward her through the darkness, a big bundle in her hands. Behind her, the alley was lit with red searchlights emanating from the bodies of at least half a dozen droids. They were private patrol units — light on intelligence, heavy on aggression. They shouted in unison, their voices amplified: "Halt, thief!"

    Depa had her blaster out in an instant. The droids disregarded her warning shots, charging ahead while a frantic Kylah raced for the speeder truck.

    Knowing that using her lightsaber would blow her cover, Depa reached out through the Force and brought a wave of abandoned shipping containers into the droids’ paths behind Kylah. The girl didn’t see the feat, but did benefit from it, reaching the hovertruck just as Depa opened its passenger door.

    Kylah shouted, "Go, go, go!"

    "Get down!" Depa yelled. Blaster shots peppered the side of the closed door, which Kylah shrank behind. The Jedi herself was already on the move, making for the driver’s side. Within seconds, the speeder was in motion.

    "Look out!" Kylah yelled as two of the droids blocked their path.

    "Hang on," Depa shouted. Gripping the control yoke, she plowed the vehicle right through the attackers. Red lights pinwheeled as the droids went flying noisily end-over-end. Blaster shots continued to strike the vehicle’s frame — but from behind, as she gunned it forward.

    Doubled over the large cloth sack she was carrying, Kylah cheered. "Whee! That was fun!"

    "Not the word I’d use." Depa accelerated until she could no longer see the droids behind her. "We're clear," she announced.

    The girl looked up — and smiled. "Home. No running lights."

    "Got it." Depa took a breath. Squinting in the darkness, she regarded the bundle in Kylah’s lap. "Get what you were looking for?"

    "You don’t need to know."

    Depa straightened. "Whatever you say."

    As the vehicle drove farther from the spaceport, Kylah relaxed — and said a lot more. "I was perfect."

    "You were?"

    "Going in is never a problem. I wait until dark and hop over a fence. Then I shimmy up this post with a rotating security cam—"

    "You climb a post with a cam on it?"

    "Isn’t it great?" Kylah practically bounced in the seat, pleased with her cleverness. “Just below the cam I can hop onto this roof nearby—where there’s a vent that’s about this size.” With her hands, she traced a shape that wasn’t much larger than the sack she was holding. "I slide down, and I'm inside."

    "And you came out with that."

    "Yeah, but I can only grab one in a trip, and there's only ten minutes each day when I can get in the stockroom, during the shift change."

    "Looks like they noticed this time."

    "Only on the way out. As long as I can keep getting in, we’re in business."

    Unsure what the business was, Depa eyed the sack. "Must be worth a lot."

    Kylah laughed. "That, you really don’t need to know."

    "You're the boss."

    ***

    In the days since Depa’s arrival on Keldooine, the Jedi had insinuated herself into the life of the largest megalopolis. Finding a way into its burgeoning underworld hadn’t been easy. Competition among various pirate bands had driven all of them into defensive stances, making them paranoid about newcomers. Posing as a speeder thief for hire had gotten her no ins at all. The only thing close to a break had come from her chance rescue of a child on the street being chased by bandits. Realizing Kylah was a courier for the Riftwalkers, Depa had made herself indispensable as driver and bodyguard, to the point where Kylah offered to share her hovel with the woman she called Hotwire.

    Depa parked behind it and exited, checking the alley for threats. Before she was done, Kylah bounded out. She worked a lock and let them both inside a darkened flat, abandoned by one of the many residents who had left Keldooine in a hurry.

    As she had after her other nightly forays, the girl carried her sack toward a storage room. “Back in a minute.”

    "Right." Depa locked the door behind them — and quickly slipped next to the opening Kylah had entered.

    She listened—and heard Kylah speak. "Wowee bowee zip zap shoo!"

    Depa tilted her head. It was a child’s phrase, nonsense. But then she heard a mechanical voice from the storage room. "Lock phrase initialized." A light click followed.

    There was no time to think about it. Depa quickly stepped away from the aperture and made a show of double-checking the front door.

    She looked back to see Kylah throwing the empty bag on the floor. "I’m a sweat monster. I’m going to change."

    "You have had a long day."

    After she saw Kylah disappear into her personal space, Depa crept into the storage room. The girl’s apparent prize sat upon a table: a carrying case with an emblem on its side. A chalice inside a star.

    Depa began to understand. It was from one of the passenger lines—Regal Voyager. The case had weight, she found on lifting it, but did not make noise when she shook it. It was also locked tight. She wondered about the contents. Money, gems, weapons? Or something worse?

    Examining the mechanism, she understood what Kylah had just done. "Hope I get this right," she whispered, before speaking to the case itself. "Wowee bowee zip zap shoo."

    The lock clicked and the case sprang open. Depa flinched, on her guard—but there was no threat. Indeed, there was nothing inside at all. Struck curious, she lifted the container again. The heft, she realized, came from the interior plating that worked as a countermeasure against scanners.

    It took no trained Jedi senses to know Kylah was almost ready to return; the girl made so much noise at home it was hard to believe she was a successful burglar—much less Depa’s best hope to connect with her quarry, the Riftwalkers. Depa quickly shut the case and exited the room.

    Kylah appeared in brighter, lighter clothes than her work garb. "Let’s go eat. They're still serving at Jammah's Place."

    "A restaurant? Kind of expensive, isn't it?"

    "You're buying. I just paid you, remember?"

    Her memory jarred, Depa nodded. "I left the money in the truck."

    "Some pro you are." Kylah laughed as she unlocked the door. "Stick with me. You’ll learn!"

    Depa watched the girl head back into the alley. That had been their dynamic: someone the age of a young Padawan, treating her as the student. But the kid's loose talk had already told Depa a lot, and she sensed that it would pay to continue playing her part.

    Closing up the flat, the Jedi noticed that a message had come in on her muted comlink while they were driving. It was from Mace— a lengthy hologram, the timecode advised. Depa decided to wait to watch it until she was alone again. Odds were it was just more about the closure of the outpost at Kwenn. That was one debate her mind was made up about. She was already seeing what life was like in a place without Jedi. Homes became hovels—and children became gangsters.

    But out here, I can do something about it.

    "You coming?" Kylah called out, already in the passenger seat and holding up Depa’s credit pouch. "Another minute and I'll start emptying this. If I don't eat it first!"

    "On my way." Depa pocketed the comlink and made for the truck.


    Spoiler: Afficher
    You can’t have a meeting of the minds if nobody attending has one.

    Zilastra had coined the saying early in her career, and it had come in handy far too many times in the decade since. But this was the first time she’d thought of it in the middle of a firefight.

    Blaster shots sizzled through the air in the corridor of the freighter Morleen, bright lines never to be crossed. Even peeking around the corner was death. All Zilastra could see from her side passage was the opening across the hall, where her second-in-command had just noticed her arrival. A Feeorin, Burlug had head-tendrils like hers; his were blue, while hers were Nautolan green. But he was a much bigger target. Burlug yelled over the incoming fire, “Stay back, Zil!”

    “Luggy, what’s the story?”

    “Tal and Krins got it. Our surprise guest popped ’em as soon as they started to parlay.”

    “Saves me from killing them,” Zilastra replied. So much for trying for a peaceful meeting. Her anger grew. A boarding action, in my own port. What a mess!

    Intake was one of the simplest tasks her crew was expected to handle. In the safety of one of her own landing facilities on Keldooine, newly captured spaceships got the once-over. Valuable cargoes were located and removed, while another team evaluated the vessel’s condition using a checklist that would have been the envy of any Republic bureaucrat.

    Before all that could happen, however, the ship had to be secured. Capturing and rerouting a large vessel was a hectic affair, and rarely was there time to clear all the occupants while in flight. That tended to just be a formality once in port, where the numbers favored her forces. From there, it progressed as it had since the dawn of piracy. Most captured crewmembers tended to switch sides without much fuss. Joining up was better than unemployment—or a violent death. Even presumably loyal captains of commercial liners would flip once a little pressure was applied.

    But owners of independent freighters like the Morleen were a different breed: protective of their vessels, and even more in love with their own stories of themselves. One legend-in-his-own-mind after another had refused to give up the ship, some hiding in the ductwork for days, waiting their chance to get taken down by her forces.

    Or to do a little damage of their own.

    With shots continuing to crackle past, Zilastra adjusted her gloves first, and then drew her blasters. Thermal detonators would be of no use—they’d damage the freighter. And a gas bomb would simply mean an even longer delay before intake could begin. No, this would have to be done the hard way, before—

    The shots stopped.

    Burlug looked back at her. “Don’t. It’s a trap.”

    “You think?”

    She heard the cockpit door close—and seconds later the low thrum of the freighter’s engines starting. The owner’s still trying to save the damn ship!

    Fortunately, there was an option Zilastra had ignored while all the shooting was going on: the intercom, on the wall beside her. She holstered one of her blasters and activated the communications device. “Hey, listen. Up in the cockpit.”

    Static. Then a husky voice. “I’m not talking to you. Get off my ship!”

    “Yeah, I hear that a lot. I’m Zilastra.”

    A pause. Then the speaker sounded. “You’re Zilastra? Of the Riftwalkers?”

    “I’m glad you’ve heard of me. That means you know what I’ll do.”

    Silence followed. Burlug shook his head. “I don’t think—”

    Wait, Zilastra mouthed. It usually took ten seconds.

    The freighter owner was ready in five. “Let me keep the Morleen.”

    “The what?”

    “This ship. It’s mine. Just take the cargo.”

    Zilastra had heard that one before, too. “What are you carrying?”

    “Tanks of industrial acid. Four million liters, bound for Introsphere on Gorse.”

    Ehh. Zilastra’s green mouth crinkled.

    Still, the engines were really starting to rev. She toggled the intercom. “Okay, you’re in luck. We happen to have a buyer for that right here on Keldooine.”

    “And?”

    “I’ll give you one of the tanks. You sell it, you can find your way offworld.”

    What?” The owner was clearly caught off guard. “No! I want my ship!”

    “The offer stands. The Morleen is mine. You want to negotiate, next time get caught by a used starship dealer.” She listened to the engines. “If your ship clears the facility, my people will shoot it down, with me in it.”

    “What? You’d really order that?”

    “I thought you’d heard of me before. You’ve got ten seconds.” Zilastra snapped off the device and redrew her other blaster.

    It took the owner all ten seconds to see reason. The engines died. And when the door to the cockpit slid open, the owner died, too—shot once by each of Zilastra’s blasters set to kill.

    Burlug stepped out and stared at the corpse, which now rested beside the bodies of Zilastra’s two former henchmen. “Good old Zilastra. Smile and shoot.”

    “She was wasting time.” Zilastra holstered her weapons. “Get her out of here.”

    Nearly twice Zilastra’s weight, Burlug had no trouble at all picking up the pilot’s limp body. “Where to?”

    Zilastra pointed a thumb aft. “She owns one of those acid vats in the hold. A deal’s a deal.” She glanced at the corpses of her fallen henchmen. “Them, too.”

    “Got it.”

    Zilastra wanted a bath, herself—if in something a lot less dangerous. Nautolans were at home near water, and while her job kept her in space, Zilastra liked a good soak. But there was more yet to do. “Luggy, where was she hiding?”

    “Under the heat exchange manifold. Snuck into the cockpit past everyone.”

    “Just great.” This wasn’t supposed to happen. Zilastra looked from side to side. “Where’s the kid?”

    She started to reach for her comlink—and decided instead on the ship’s public address system. Her voice boomed through the halls. “Kylah Lohmata! Show yourself!

    A metal bulkhead panel behind Zilastra shot outward, landing on the deck with a clang. A dark-haired human girl of twelve slipped out of a space barely a meter tall. Her face and clothing were completely covered in grease smudges—and her wide brown eyes beamed as she saluted. “Reporting, Your Majesty!”

    Zilastra waved a gloved hand. “I’m not in the mood. I’ve got two dead because of a pilot we missed. Checking crawl spaces is your job!”

    Kylah got to her feet. “I found something else. I knew you’d want to see it.”

    “And you thought the way to reach me was to crawl here?”

    “People were shooting.” Kylah lifted the panel she’d just knocked out. Like most of the corridor, it was pocked with score marks from the pilot’s blaster. The kid smiled wide. “Come on! Follow me down to the hold!”

    The wiry girl dived back into the maintenance tunnel before Zilastra could grab her. Kneeling, she saw Kylah clambering like a rodent through the tunnel. Unable to fit, Zilastra shouted inside. “What’s the matter with taking the stairs?”

    Shortcut!

    Seething, Zilastra heard a comment from above. “Smart kid.” The pilot’s body over his massive shoulder, Burlug snickered at his boss. “Saves her from getting chewed out. I’d follow if I could fit!”

    “Get to the hold before I liquidate the lot of you.” Zilastra watched him pass and turned to follow. The long way to the hold, down the halls.

    There was no place in Zilastra’s life for children of her own. It had been hard enough starting the Riftwalkers from the castoffs of the four other gangs working this sector of the Slice. Yet somehow she had become a kind of surrogate parent for Kylah. The foundling had been a stowaway on a merchant ship Zilastra had grabbed; with nowhere to go, she’d stayed on. The skinny kid’s talent at getting into places no one else could and finding things no one knew to look for had made her handy to have around.

    Still, given all the would-be lieutenants wanting to impress her all the time, an incorrigible orphan made for a change of pace. Kylah was all striving, with none of the conniving. Zilastra wasn’t exactly alike in that, but she certainly knew what it was to be on her own—and she respected performance. She’d lately entrusted the stowaway with a very special project, in fact.

    She was beginning to doubt the wisdom of that when she arrived in the hold. True to the late captain’s word, freestanding tanks stood in the wide area. They were bolted to the deck, and the only way to drain them was at a reservoir facility, using the proper equipment. That was why Zilastra instantly had known the prize was less than useful.

    “No kid,” Burlug said. “I was sure she’d beat us here.”

    Zilastra’s blood boiled. “Stowaway!

    “I’m up here!” came a voice from high above.

    Zilastra looked to the top of one of the tanks. Somehow, Kylah had gotten up there and was perched next to an opening in the massive container. “What’s the idea?” Zilastra asked.

    “You’re going to want to see this,” Kylah said. “I’m not the only stowaway on this ship!

    On se rapproche de la sortie, toujours prévue pour le 09/04 prochain !
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