The second excerpt from Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn arrives, this time in the UK newspaper the Daily Express. Thrawn hits stores in the UK and US on April 11th.
After all the trouble the castaway had created on the planet surface, Eli had expected him to put up a terrific fight against his captors. To his surprise, he apparently surrendered to the stormtroopers without any resistance at all.
Perhaps he was taken by surprise. More likely, he knew when resistance was futile.
At least Eli understood now why Parck wanted him along. The prisoner’s cargo crates were labeled with a Sy Bisti variant. If he spoke the language itself—and if it was the only language he spoke—the Imperials would need a translator.
The group was halfway to the hatchway where Parck, Barris, Eli, and their stormtrooper escort waited when the hangar bay lights came back up.
The prisoner, as Eli had already noted, was of human shape and dimensions. But there the resemblance to normal humans ended. His skin was blue, his eyes a glowing red, and his hair a shimmering blue-black.
Eli stiffened. Back home on Lysatra, there were myths about beings like that. Proud, deadly warriors that the stories named Chiss.
With an effort, he tore his eyes away from the face and his mind away from the old myths. The prisoner was dressed in what appeared to be skins and furs, apparently sewn together from the indigenous animals of the forest where he’d been living. Even marching in the center of a rectangle of armed stormtroopers, he had an air of almost regal confidence about him.
Confidence. That was definitely part of the stories.
The stormtroopers brought him to within a few meters of Parck and nudged him to a halt. “Welcome aboard the Venator Star Destroyer Strikefast,” the captain said. “Do you speak Basic?”
For a moment the alien seemed to be studying him. “Or would Sy Bisti be better?” Eli added in that language.
Barris threw a glare at him, and Eli winced. Again, stupid. He should have waited for orders. The prisoner, too, was gazing at him, though his expression seemed more thoughtful than angry.
Captain Parck, for his part, only had eyes for the prisoner. “You asked him whether he spoke Sy Bisti, I assume?”
“Yes, sir,” Eli said. “My apologies, Captain. I just thought—the stories all say that the Chiss used Sy Bisti in their—”
“The what?” Parck asked.
“The Chiss,” Eli said, feeling his face warming. “They’re a…well, they’ve always been thought of as a Wild Space myth.”
“Have they, now,” Parck said, eying the prisoner. “It would appear they’re a bit more substantial than that. But I interrupted. You were saying?”
“Just that in the stories the Chiss used Sy Bisti in their dealings with us.”
“As you also used that language with us,” the prisoner said calmly in Sy Bisti.
Eli twitched. The prisoner had answered in Sy Bisti . . . but he’d responded to a comment that Eli had made in Basic. “Do you understand Basic?” he asked in Sy Bisti.
“I understand some,” the Chiss answered in the same language. “But I’m more comfortable with this one.”
Eli nodded. “He says he understands some Basic, but is more comfortable with Sy Bisti.”
“I see,” Parck said. “Very well. I’m Captain Parck, commander of this ship. What’s your name?”
Eli opened his mouth to translate—“No,” Parck stopped him with an upraised hand. “You can translate his answers, but I want to see how much Basic he understands. Your name, please?”
For a moment the Chiss was silent, his gaze drifting around the hangar bay. Not like a primitive overwhelmed by the size and magnificence of the place, Eli thought, but like another military man sizing up his enemy’s strengths and weaknesses. “Mitth’raw’nuruodo,” he said, bringing his glowing eyes back to Parck.
“But I believe it would be easier for you to call me Thrawn.”