Star Wars Republic Commando #1: Hard Contact

Star Wars Republic Commando #1: Hard Contact

by Karen Traviss

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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As the Clone Wars rage, victory or defeat lies in the hands of elite squads that take on the toughest assignments in the galaxy–stone-cold soldiers who go where no one else would, to do what no one else could. . . .

On a mission to sabotage a chemical weapon research facility on a Separatist-held planet, four clone troopers operate under the very noses of their enemies. The commandos are outnumbered and outgunned, deep behind enemy lines with no backup–and working with strangers instead of trusted teammates. Matters don’t improve when Darman, the squad’s demolitions expert, gets separated from the others during planetfall. Even Darman’s apparent good luck in meeting an inexperienced Padawan vanishes once Etain admits to her woeful inexperience.

For the separated clone commandos and stranded Jedi, a long, dangerous journey lies ahead, through hostile territory brimming with Trandoshan slavers, Separatists, and suspicious natives. A single misstep could mean discovery . . . and death. It’s a virtual suicide mission for anyone–anyone except Republic Commandos.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345478276
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/26/2004
Series: Star Wars: Republic Commando Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 57,273
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.86(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

A former defense correspondent and TV and newspaper journalist, KAREN TRAVISS has also worked as a police press officer, an advertising copywriter, and a journalism lecturer. She has served in both the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service and the Territorial Army. Since her graduation from the Clarion East class of 2000, her short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Realms of Fantasy, and On Spec. Her first novel, City of Pearl, was published in 2004 to critical acclaim; her second novel is Crossing the Line.

Read an Excerpt

Think of yourselves as a hand. Each of you is a finger, and without the others you're useless. Alone, a finger can't grasp, or control, or form a fist. You are nothing on your own, and everything together.
--Commando instructor Sergeant Kal Skirata

Darman moved on fast, up a tree-covered slope a kilometer south. He planned on spending the rest of the daylight hours in a carefully constructed hide at the highest vantage point he could find, slightly below the skyline.

He concentrated on making a crude net out of the canopy cords he had salvaged. The activity kept him occupied and alert. He hadn't slept in nearly forty standard hours; fatigue made you more careless and dangerously unfocused than alcohol.
When he had finished tying the cord into squares, he wove grass, leaves, and twigs into the knots. On inspection,
he decided it was a pretty good camouflage net.

He also continued observation. Qiilura was astonishing. It was alive and different, a riot of scent and color and texture and sounds. Now that his initial pounding fear had subsided into a general edginess, he began to take it all in.

It was the little living noises that concerned him most.
Around him, creatures crawled, flew, and buzzed. Occasionally things squealed and fell silent. Twice now he'd heard something larger prowling in the bushes.

Apart from the brief intensity of Geonosis, Darman's only environmental experience had been the elegant but enclosed stilt cities of Kamino, and the endless churning seas around them. The cleanly efficient classrooms and barracks where he had spent ten years turning from instant child to perfect soldier were unremarkable, designed to get a job done. His training in desert and mountain and jungle had been entirely artificial, holoprojection, simulation.

The red desert plains of Geonosis had been far more arid and starkly magnificent than his instructors' imaginations;
and now Qiilura's fields and woods held so much more than three-dimensional charts could offer.

It was still open country, though--a terrain that made it hard for him to move around unnoticed.

Concentrate, he told himself. Gather intel. Make the most of your enforced idleness.

Lunch would have been welcome about now. A decent lunch. He chewed on a concentrated dry ration cube and reminded himself that his constant hunger wasn't real. He was just tired. He had consumed the correct amount of nutrients for his needs, and if he gave in to eating more, he would run out of supplies. There was exactly enough for a week's operations in his pack and two days'worth in his emergency belt.
The belt was the only thing he would grab, apart from his rifle, if he ever had to make a last-ditch run for it without his forty-kilo pack.

Beneath him, farm transports passed along a narrow track,
all heading in the same direction, carrying square tanks with security seals on the hatches. Barq. Darman had never tasted it, but he could smell it even from here. The nauseatingly musky, almost fungal scent took the edge off his appetite for a while. If he had his holochart aligned correctly, the transports were all heading for the regional depot at Teklet. He twisted the image this way and that in his hands and held it up to map onto the actual landscape.

Yes, he was sure enough now where he was. He was ten klicks east of the small town called Imbraani, about forty klicks northeast of RV point Beta and forty klicks almost due east of RV point Gamma. They'd picked RV points along the flight path because the Separatists would expect dispersal,
not a retracing of their steps. Between RVs Alpha and Beta was a stretch of woodland, ideal for moving undetected by day. If the rest of his squad had landed safely and were on schedule, they would be making their way to Beta.

Things could be looking up again. All he had to do was get to RV Gamma and wait for his squad. And if they hadn't made it, then he'd need to rethink the mission.

The idea produced a feeling of desolation. You are nothing on your own, and everything together. He'd been raised to think, function, even breathe as one of a group of four. He could do nothing else.

But ARCs always operate alone, don't they?

He pondered that, fighting off drowsiness. Leaves rustled suddenly behind him, and he turned to scan with the infrared filter of his visor. He caught a blur of moving animal. It fled.
His database said there were no large predators on Qiilura,
so whatever it was could be no more troublesome than the gdans--not as long as he was wearing his armor, anyway.

Darman waited motionless for a few moments, but the animal was gone. He turned back and refocused on the road and the surrounding fields, struggling to stay awake. Lay off the stims. No, he wasn't going to touch his medpac for a quick boost. Not yet. He'd save his limited supply for later,
for when things got really tough, as he knew they would.

Then something changed in his field of vision. The frozen tableau had come to life. He flipped down the binoc filter for a closer look, and what he saw made him snap it back and gaze through the sniperscope of his rifle.

A thin wisp of smoke rose from a group of wooden buildings.
It was quickly becoming a pall. It wasn't the smoke of domestic fires; he could see flames, flaring tongues of yellow and red. The structures--barns, judging by their construction--were on fire. A group of people in drab clothing was scrambling around, trying to drag objects clear of the flames, uncoordinated, panicking. Another group--Ubese,
Trandoshan, mainly Weequay--was stopping them, standing in a line around the barn.

One of the farmers broke the line and disappeared into a building. He didn't come out again, not as long as Darman watched.

Nothing in his training corresponded to what he was witnessing.
There was not a memory, a pattern, a maneuver, or a lesson that flashed in his mind and told him how this should be played out. Civilian situations were outside his experience.
Nor were these citizens of the Republic: they weren't anyone's citizens.

His training taught him not to be distracted by outside issues,
however compelling.

But there was still some urge in him that said Do something.
What? His mission, his reason for staying alive, was to rejoin his squad and thwart the nanovirus project. Breaking cover to aid civilians cut across all of that.

The Separatists--or whoever controlled this band of assorted thugs--knew he was here.

It didn't take a genius to work it out. The sprayer had exploded on landing, detonating any demolition ordnance that Darman hadn't been able to cram into his packs. The
Weequay patrol hadn't called in when their masters had expected.
Now the humans--farmers--were being punished and threatened, and it was all to do with him. The Separatists were looking for him.

Escape and evasion procedure.

No, not yet. Darman inhaled and leveled his rifle carefully,
picking out an Ubese in the crosswires. Then he lined up the rest of the group, one at a time. Eight hostiles, forty rounds:
he knew he could slot every one, first time.

He held his breath, forefinger resting on the trigger.
Just a touch.

How many more targets were there that he couldn't see?
He'd give away his position.

This isn't your business.

He exhaled and relaxed his grip on the rifle, sliding his forefinger in front of the trigger guard. What would happen to his mission if they caught him?

In the next two minutes, reluctant to move, he targeted each Ubese, Weequay, and Trandoshan several times, but didn't squeeze the trigger. He wanted to more than he could have imagined. It wasn't the hard-drilled trained response of a sniper, but a helpless, impotent anger whose origin he couldn't begin to identify.

Don't reveal your position. Don't fire unless you can take out the target. Keep firing until the target is down and stays down.

And then there were times when a soldier just had to take a chance.

They could be Republic citizens, one day.

They could be allies now.

Darman wasn't tired anymore, or even hungry. His pulse was pounding loud in his ears and he could feel the constriction in his throat muscles, the fundamental human reflex to flee or fight. Fleeing wasn't an option. He could only fight.

He targeted the first Weequay, a clean head shot, and squeezed the trigger. The creature dropped, and for a moment his comrades stared at the body, unsure of what had happened. Darman had nothing against Weequays. It was only coincidence that this was the third one he'd killed in a few hours.

And, suddenly unfrozen, the band of thugs all turned to stare in the direction of the shot, drawing their weapons.

The first bolt hit the bushes to Darman's left; the second went three meters over his head. They'd worked out where he was, all right. Darman snapped on the DC-17's grenade attachment and watched through the scope as the civilians scattered. The grenade sent a shower of soil and shattered wood into the air, along with four of the eight militia.

He'd certainly pinpointed his position now.

When he sprang to his feet and began the run down the slope, the four remaining enemy stood and stared for a couple of seconds. He had no idea why, but they were transfixed long enough for him to gain the advantage. A couple of plasma bolts hit him, but his armor simply took it like a punch in the chest and he ran on, laying down a hail of particle rounds. The bolts came toward him like horizontal lumi-
nous rain. One Trandoshan turned and ran; Darman took him down with a bolt in the back that blew him a few meters farther as he fell.

Then the white-hot rain stopped and he was running over bodies. Darman slowed and pulled up, suddenly deafened by the sound of his own panting breath.

Maybe they'd managed to report his presence via their comlinks in time, and maybe they hadn't. The information wouldn't have been much use on its own anyway. He ran from barn to barn, checking for more hostiles, walking through the flames unscathed because his armor and bodysuit could easily withstand the heat of a wood fire. Even with the visor, he couldn't see much through the thick smoke, and he moved quickly outside again. He glanced at his arm;
smoke curled off the soot-blackened plates.

Then he almost walked straight into a youth in a farmer's smock, staring at him. The boy bolted.

Darman couldn't find any more of Hokan's troops. He came to the last barn and booted the door open. His spotlamp illuminated the dim interior and picked out four terri-
fied human faces--two men, a woman, and the boy he'd just seen--huddling in a corner next to a threshing machine. His automatic response was to train the rifle on them until he was sure they weren't hostiles. Not every soldier wears a uniform.
But his instincts said these were just terrified civilians.

He was still trailing smoke from his armor. He realized how frightening he looked.

A thin, wavering wail began. He thought it was the woman, but it seemed to be coming from one of the men, a man just as old as Sergeant Skirata who was staring at him in horror. Darman had never seen civilians that close, and he'd never seen anyone that scared.

"I'm not going to hurt you," he said. "Is this your farm?"
Silence, except for that noise the man was making; he couldn't understand it. He'd rescued them from their attackers,
hadn't he? What was there to fear?
"How many troops has Hokan got? Can you tell me?"

The woman found her voice, but it was shaky. "What are you?"

"I'm a soldier of the Republic. I need information,

"You're not him?"



"No. Do you know where he is?"

She pointed south in the direction of Imbraani. "They're down at the farm the Kirmay clan used to own before Hokan sold them to Trandoshans. About fifty, maybe sixty of them.
What are you going to do to us?"

"Nothing, ma'am. Nothing at all."

It didn't seem to be the answer they were expecting. The woman didn't move.

"He brought them here looking for him," said the man who wasn't whining, pointing at Darman. "We've got nothing to thank him for. Tell him to--"

"Shut up," the woman said, glaring at the man. She turned back to Darman. "We won't say a word. We won't say we saw you. Just go. Get out. We don't want your help."

Darman was totally unprepared for the reaction. He'd been taught many things, but none of his accelerated learning had mentioned anything about ungrateful civilians, rescues thereof.

He backed away and checked outside the barn door before darting from barn to bush to fence and up the slope to where he'd left his gear. It was time to move on. He was leaving a trail behind him now, a trail of engagements and bodies. He wondered if he'd see civvies, as Skirata called them, in quite the same benign way in the future.

He checked the chrono readout in his visor. It had been only minutes since he had run down the slope, firing. It always felt like hours, hours when he couldn't see anything but the target in front of him. Don't worry, Skirata had said. It's your forebrain shutting down, just a fear reflex. You're bred from sociopathic stock. You'll fight just fine. You'll carry on fighting when normal men have turned into basket cases.

Darman was never sure if that was good or not, but it was what he was, and he was fine with that. He loaded his extra pack on his back and began working his way to the RV point.
Maybe he shouldn't have expended so many rounds. Maybe he should have just left the farmers to their fate. He'd never know.

Then it struck him why both the militia and the civilians had frozen when they first spotted him. The helmet. The armor. He looked like a Mandalorian warrior.

Everyone must be terrified of Ghez Hokan. The similarity would either work to his advantage or ge

Customer Reviews

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Star Wars Republic Commando #1 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 198 reviews.
spit9lvr More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed a story about the inner workings of the clone psyche and how that relates to how they live and fight. That being said this book didn't exactly keep me on the edge of my seat which is kind of what I was expecting but I wouldn't say I was disappointed in the story line. The implied complications of the Clone/Jedi relationship is an interesting angle. I look forward to reading the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most star wars books are awsome but the ones about commandos are the best ever!!!!!!
Stevie Hayes More than 1 year ago
This is an Amazing book and an amazing series. Traviss is a Briliant writer and really makes you connect and feel for the charactors in her books, from the prologue til the very last page and beyond. I would reccommend this book and the entire series to Anyone and Everyone! It's just plain awesome!. =) these books are an Amazing deal too!! Only $8 a piece and this is one of my favorite series of All Time. =) Everyone shud buy these books, and Everyone should read them. =)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In addition to Karen Traviss' mastery of military details, the story moves with no slowness. She does an excellent job developing the characters that you feel for. The story moves with the fluidity of a movie. Then again, when you read her bio and see she's a screenwriter it explains that. I literally tried to find every opportunity to read this book. And she sets things up for the events that occur in the next book "Triple Zero".
Danish_Thunder More than 1 year ago
What brought me into this story-line so emphatically, aside from its incredible portrayal of the main characters, was an ultra-realistic side of Star Wars I've never seen before. It's obvious that Traviss has had an extensive military background to depict war so pragmatically in a fantasy world. All in all I think this is a very noteworthy and remarkable depiction of the Clone Wars as seen from some very awesome Commandos.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awsome book, just like the game.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best book. I will reread over and over again.
sexycouchpotato2010 More than 1 year ago
Its my first star wars book, love the films and cartoons, but this gave me a 3 dimensional view of the Clones. Its an easy enough read that if your not a SW fanboy you will still enjoy this book on its human espionage merit alone.
Darcy Fausz More than 1 year ago
Great novel that is full of action scenes and talking scenes. About equal amount. Still a great novel.
Tamika O'Neal More than 1 year ago
Not big on reading, but this was so good that I couldn't put it down very much so worth the buy and read!!! Nick
Maitrakh More than 1 year ago
Who knew clones were so different from each other? This gave me a whole new outlook in the Star Wars universe. I was hooked from the first page. I could not put this book down! It's the beginning of an amazing series!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book and I would reccomend reading it if you like Star Wars books. It's an overall great book!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I never liked star wars novels until I bought this book. I can not wait to get the next 3 books in this series. Wow..... Amazing! Buy it, rent it, whatever, just make sure you get it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book blew me to Geonoasis!!! It felt like I was actauly a clone commando troop waiting to be given orders.I think it is the best book in the whole wide world!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like star wars I would think it almost impossible for you to not like this book. It is a great book to start a series with, but could just as easily be a stand alone novel. However if you read this book, even if you don't like it read the additional books as well, or your perspective will be clouded.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I devoured this book. I devour many books but my problem with this one was not being able to take it along with me as I do most paperbacks to read during dull moments on the train or in hearings; people label you if you're seen reading Star Wars books. But I wasn't reading it for Star Wars, I was reading it for Karen Traviss. I was introduced to this wonderful author with 'City of Pearl' and followed up woth 'Crossing the Line', only to find disappointment in learning that book three isn't published yet. She has a gift for characters and dialogue and there seems little wasted in painting the scene while moving the plot; no overblown imagery, just sharp, taut stories that grab you by the throat and hold you to the end. Hard Contact doesn't disappoint. You know the universe, you know who's good and who's bad but Ms. Traviss reveals a side that's unsuspected -- clones with personality and feelings. What this book really reminds me of is Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six series. The Squad is quietly competent, dedicated to their duty, intent on their objective. And the interplay between the clones could be any group of highly trained soldiers;full of gallows humor, understated and sarcastic, fatalistic and still determined to accomplish the objective. My favorite line in the book is, 'Drink-spilling nervous?' You'll see: the timimg is perfect. A four star rating because the ending is so predictable. But Hard Contact is a page turner, a roller coaster in 300 pages that you want to turn around and ride again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have and played the game... all right WANT THE BOOK!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best series of books ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I only have the sample, but it is really awesome. The series is really good.
Thorne2112 More than 1 year ago
An exciting war story from several POV's that turn the story not right-side-up or upside-down, but sideways.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had purchased the videogame a long time ago and decided to read the book. It is very well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I relly liked thise book it said a elite solder but not as exclusive as the jedi but not the common tropper but something in between relly special and common
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is a great story and there are several that follow with the same characters. You learn to understand the commando better. also realize they got a bad break
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a goodbbook but you have to admit it was pretty slow for almost half the book they talked about their game plan in a shack. I picked this book up thinking it woul be action packed but really nothing ever happened it was boring for most of the book but the only battles were short and a lot of the words they used u would need to be a major nerd to know no affense i mean i like SWars too but i wouldnt take the time to know all the names of these guns unless i was Mr. Lucas my self! But come on this book was slow nothing happpened it was boring at most times the breifing at the begging of the book was like 50 pages please miss traviss next time please make things more interesting.