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Nova had seen the holorecordings, but they didn't even

begin to give you the real scope of the construction site.


The blasted thing was huge, big as a moon! He'd heard
the scut, naturally, the military comm-vine was hot with
it: the Death Star was going to carry an armada of ships,
it would have more guns than an Imperial fleet, there
were super-secret weapons that could pop Star
Destroyers like soap bubbles, burn a continent down to
the bedrock, trigger solar flares, and so forth. But he'd
figured most of that for jaw-wag that wasn't worth the air
it took to repeat it. Now, however, seeing the place as the
shuttle drew nearer he revised his opinion. No way the
Empire would spend this kind of effort and money if this
thing didn't have a big trick it could pull off.

One thing for sure: it promised to be far more exciting


than herding prisoners around on a tropical pesthole like
Despayre.

It looked like interesting times lay ahead.

25

CIVILIAN TRANSPORT VESSEL NORDIEUS,


APPROACHING HANGAR BAY 1271, DEATH

STAR

Commander Atour Riten-a rank that meant less than


nothing to him-leaned back in his seat and looked at the
viewer inset into the bulkhead next to him. My, he

154