USA Today nam ekskluzivno donosi izvod iz knjige Rogue One: Catalyst koju piše Džejms Lusino, a koja će se pojaviti u prodaji 15. novembra.
The tall gates swung open and suddenly Galen Erso was standing alongside the carriage, bracketed by two prison guards, looking much thinner than Lyra allowed herself to admit. The guards, however, made no effort to restrain him when he shuffled to her, embracing her and Jyn for a long moment.
“You look lovelier than ever,” he said, stepping back to take them in. His eyes went to Jyn. “Let me hold her.”
Lyra passed Jyn to him. Carefully he peeled away the swaddling that masked her face and smiled more broadly than Lyra had ever seen him smile. Jyn stirred in his arms, and Lyra said: “She remembers you, Galen.”
“She’s beautiful,” he said, inspecting her face. “Her eyes have changed color.”
Lyra nodded. “They’re sort of flecked.”
“Stardust,” Galen said. “That’s what’s in her eyes.”
“Galen, what’s happening?” Lyra risked asking. “Why have we been brought here. They’re not going to—”
“I haven’t been told anything. They took me out of my cell before dawn.”
“The same with us. I’m worried.”
“Don’t be.” He showed her his grimy hands. “See? No restraints. And no one has brandished a weapon at me all morning.”
Lyra didn’t find much relief in it. “Could they be sending us somewhere else? Is there a worse prison?”
Before he could reply, one of the guards ordered Galen up into the carriage.
He did as instructed, and the drivers snapped their whips over the heads of the lead taqwa, who set off at a brisk pace. The carriage’s wooden wheels bounded over bumps and ruts, and Lyra inadvertently bit down on her tongue. When Tambolor had disappeared from view, Galen raised himself up on the bench seat to take a look around.
“We’re heading for the spaceport.”
Lyra’s eyes widened. “You don’t think—”
“I don’t want to jinx anything by thinking.”
As if on cue, a starship appeared high overhead and began a very controlled descent toward the landing zone.
Galen squinted at the emblem emblazoned on the light-freighter’s underbelly. “Zerpen!”
Lyra put the edge of her hand to her brow and followed his gaze. “Since when does Zerpen Industries fly anything that ragged?”
Galen ignored the question. “I knew they wouldn’t forget us.”
Lyra gave her head a shake, as if to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. She hugged Jyn closer as the Zerpen vessel settled on its trio of landing gear, blasting everyone with grit. The boarding ramp lowered and a sole figure in a white environment suit similarly emblazoned with the company logo descended to the pad. Lyra felt her jaw drop, and when she turned to Galen she saw that he too was agape.
“Orson Krennic?” she whispered.
He nodded, seemingly incapable of speaking or looking away
“We need to play this by ear,” Galen managed.
Their captors met Krennic halfway, and the three of them stood regarding one another for a long moment.
Krennic looked around with purpose before speaking. “Which of you is in charge?”
Chieftain Gruppe answered him in Basic. “The Dergue has granted me authority to settle this matter.”
Krennic opened his jacket and pulled out a datapad, calling Gruppe’s attention to something on the display screen, “Satisfied?”
Gruppe nodded and Krennic handed the datapad to the chieftain. “Yours to keep.”
Gruppe dropped the datapad into one of her coat pockets and motioned to where Galen and Lyra were standing. “I don’t suppose there’s any need to introduce you.”
Krennic grinned and sauntered over to them. Reaching for Galen’s hand, he said: “Dr. Erso, I’m so relieved to find you in good health.” He turned to Lyra while he was still pumping Galen’s hand. “And Mrs. Erso, and—oh, my, is this the child?”
Lyra had her mouth open to respond but nothing emerged.
“May I have a peek?”
She moved Jyn forward and removed the wrappings that covered her face.
“Precious! She looks just like you!”
Business-like once more, Krennic returned to the boarding ramp. “Dr. Erso, if you and your wife would be so kind as to hurry aboard.”
“I hope that your journeys are fruitful,” Chieftain Gruppe called out as Galen and Lyra were climbing into the ship.
Once inside, Krennic whirled Galen into an embrace. “How wonderful to see you after all this time!”
“Orson, I don’t under—”
“Not now,” Krennic interrupted, stepping back but continuing to grip Galen’s arms. “I’ll explain everything in due course, but right now there are more important matters to attend to.”
Everyone moved into the main cabin, where three other humans with close-cropped hair were seated at various duty stations. All eyes were on them as Galen and Lyra strapped into one of the acceleration couches. Lyra cradled Jyn close.
“Contact Commander Prakas as soon as we lift off,” Krennic told the comm tech as he was strapping in. “Tell him to give us just enough time to get up the well.”
The freighter lifted off and rocketed into Vallt’s pale sky. Galen turned his attention to the cabin’s starboard-side viewport as stars began to reveal themselves.
“Brace yourselves for evasive action,” Krennic warned.
Galen twisted slightly in the direction of the viewport. A sudden shift in the starfield was followed by a brief glimpse of a Separatist warship bristling with weapons; then the darkening sky came alive with crisscrossing hyphens of laser fire.
“Ha! So much for honoring the terms of the exchange!” Krennic shouted.
Lyra pressed Jyn more tightly to her chest as the freighter was jolted by fire. A flash of nova-bright light filled the viewport and the freighter rolled over on its port side, its belly peppered with debris.
“Lieutenant-Commander, we’re in position.”
Krennic swiveled toward the console. “Right on schedule, Prakas! There were droids and a Settie-class dropship on the surface, though it might be in the air by now. When you’re done with them, target the city.”
“Orson, no!” Lyra said in an anguished voice. “It’s done. It’s over with!”
“Not quite,” Krennic said without looking at her. His gaze favored Galen. “A strike will give the pro-Republic legions an opportunity to reclaim power. What’s more, we promised Zerpen that they’d get their ignition facility back.”
“They’re harmless, Orson,” Galen said, “Separatists or no.”
Krennic’s look was patronizing. “Perhaps. But we’re at war, and they’re on the wrong side.”