Doctor Aphra (Star Wars)

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Dr. Aphra teams up with Darth Vader himself in the original script to the audiobook production—an expanded adaptation of the critically acclaimed Marvel comics series.

Dr. Chelli Lona Aphra, rogue archaeologist, is in trouble again.     
 
A pioneer in the field of criminal xenoarchaeology, Aphra recognizes no law, has no fear, and possesses no impulse control. To her, the true worth of the galactic relics she discovers isn’t found in a museum but in an arsenal. This viewpoint has led to a lot of misunderstandings. After her latest plan goes horribly wrong, her roguish ways are on the verge of catching up to her. That’s when suddenly Darth Vader, terror of the galaxy, swoops in with his lightsaber and . . . saves her life?     
 
Don’t get her wrong—it’s not like she’s ungrateful. Sure, her new boss is a lord of the Sith. And okay, she may have just become a pawn in a deadly game being played by him and his boss, who happens to be the Galactic Emperor. And yes, the life expectancy of anyone who disappoints Vader can be measured in seconds.     
 
But she’s back doing what she does best. She’s got a ship to fly, a heist to pull, and two unorthodox but effective metal buddies: Triple-Zero, a protocol droid specializing in etiquette, customs, translation, and torture, and BT-1, an astromech loaded with enough firepower to take down a battlecruiser. Together, they might just find a way to get the job done and avoid the deadly performance review that waits at its conclusion.
 
Just kidding. She’s doomed.

Under the Cover

An excerpt from Doctor Aphra (Star Wars)

NARRATOR:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. . . .

CUE THEME

SCENE 1. INT. THE ARK ANGEL. SOMEWHERE IN THE OUTER RIM.

APHRA:

Begin recording.

APHRA (narration):

The first thing you need to know: This time I’m dead. Definitely, definitely dead.

I’ve almost died before. So many times. “More lives than a tooka-cat,” that’s how Sava Toob-Nix used to describe me. And this story, the one that ends with me definitely dead . . . it all starts with one of those times I almost died.

So let’s begin there.

We hear the blasts and explosions of a truly epic space battle—perhaps a bit exaggerated in its epicness because this is the story as Aphra’s telling it, and she is nothing if not over the top.

APHRA (narration):

Imagine it: the most epic space battle you’ve ever seen. Lasers! Explosions! Things that go pew-pew! And right in the middle of it all, our intrepid heroine—that’s me!—Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra. Rogue archaeologist, weapons expert, droid reactivator extraordinaire . . . and did I mention she is also extraordinarily beautiful? Raven tresses . . . that are usually a tangled mess, because they’re stuffed under a very stylish aviator cap, complete with rakish goggles. Brown eyes that spark—yes, spark!—with a yearning for adventure. Intriguing electro-tattoos running down her right arm—foolish, youthful mistake, or sign of an irrepressible daredevil? That’s none of your business!

Let’s join her as she makes her grand escape from a gang of nefarious pirates trying to gun down her glorious ship, the Ark Angel!

A particularly loud boom! as Aphra’s ship is hit.

APHRA:

Dammit . . . hyperdrive down, life support hit. Okay . . . okay . . . that’s fine, nothing to worry about. Activate auxiliary systems and get the crew working on it right away!

A beat as she realizes she’s talking to herself.

APHRA:

Oh, right. There are no auxiliary systems. And I don’t have a crew. Time to get creative . . .

The ship’s comm beeps with an incoming transmission.

MAZ KANATA (on comm):

Doctor Aphra! Surrender the valuable artifacts you have stolen from us and we will leave you and your ship be and continue on our way!

Aphra speaks to Maz as she tinkers furiously with her ship’s control panel, trying to buy time.

APHRA:

Heeeey, Maz Kanata! Always an honor to speak to the galaxy’s most—and I mean most—legendary pirate queen! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve dreamed of this moment, just the two of us on a comm while trying to shoot each other into the Void. I can’t imagine why you’re shooting at li’l ol’ me, though, I swear you’ve got the wrong girl—

MAZ KANATA (on comm):

Spare me your legendary—and I mean legendary—falsehoods, Aphra, we know you have the antique stealth microdroid dust—

APHRA:

You wound me with these accusations!

MAZ KANATA (on comm):

My crew went to great lengths to secure an artifact so valuable, and you, no doubt, are planning on doing something extraordinarily stupid with it—

APHRA:

What, like use it?

MAZ KANATA (on comm):

Exactly.

APHRA:

Okay. Now this is getting downright personal. Is there no sisterhood among rogues anymore? Tell ya what, why don’t we settle in at one of those backwater holes you love so much, have a drink, talk this out like the proper ladies we are—

Another boom rocks Aphra’s ship. Her tinkering gets even more furious, more desperate.

APHRA:

That was very unladylike, Maz.

The Ark Angel lets out a series of frantic beeps.

APHRA:

Now my life support’s failing, I probably only have a few breaths left in me, I’m going to die out here because you’re convinced I took something from you and, worse yet, that I have some sort of nefarious plan for it—

MAZ KANATA (on comm):

You underestimate how well I—or anyone who’s spoken to you for more than five seconds—know you.

APHRA:

Fine! Of course I took it! And of course I’m going to use it! You pirates think you understand the value of all these artifacts you so carelessly pilfer, but all you really understand is that they’re old, and that means they need to be sold to a dusty old museum where they rot away into nothing. And all without ever being used for their true purpose, fulfilling their true potential—out there in the galaxy, having the extraordinary adventures they were meant for.

I mean. How would you like it if someone put you in a museum, Maz?

MAZ KANATA (on comm):

You are telling me that in your custody, the antique stealth microdroid dust is going to have adventures? Rather than merely being sold to the highest bidder?

APHRA:

Would it . . . make you stop shooting at me if that was the case?

A beat as Maz considers—or at least pretends to.

MAZ KANATA (on comm):

Probably not.

Another loud boom rocks Aphra’s ship.

APHRA:

That’s what I figured. And that’s why . . . I also stole—er, liberated something else from your pirating spoils! The cutest little astromech scraps . . . so shiny, and just sitting there, nestled next to the microdroid dust. I swear, they started talking to me. Wanted me to take ’em home. And I like the shiny, so I obliged.

MAZ KANATA (on comm):

[genuinely puzzled]

The . . . astromech scraps? Those were salvaged from a Corellian junkyard, but they were so rusty, so banged up and broken, even our best techs couldn’t do anything with them. They’re just . . . trash.

APHRA:

Yeah, I love trash. Watch what happens when I place my shiny new astromech bit just so in my central operating system.

We hear a decisive click as Aphra places the droid part in her control panel.

APHRA:

Hooks right in—’cause I’ve got the magic touch. Oh, and I’ve made so many personal modifications to the Ark Angel, my beloved ship will run on anything. Even old droid parts.

A loud explosion rocks Maz’s ship.

MAZ KANATA (on comm):

What! Direct hit, our gravity’s knocked out . . .

APHRA:

Soooo . . . did I mention that I’ve actually been looking for this exact ’mech bit? I had a theory that it would enhance my weapons system—looks like I was right! All-purpose astromech bits! Or at least they are in my hands . . .

MAZ KANATA (on comm):

I don’t understand how you . . . you . . .

APHRA:

Your techs are a buncha charlatans, Maz. You should reaaaalllly consider replacing them if you want to keep that badass pirate queen rep.

MAZ KANATA (on comm):

That isn’t . . . Void! Retreat! This isn’t over, Aphra . . .

APHRA:

Oh, I know.

As Maz’s ship retreats, Aphra actually sounds a little contemplative—

APHRA:

I really do hope we get that drink one day.

- About the author -

Sarah Kuhn is the author of the popular Heroine Complex novels—a series starring Asian American superheroines. The first two books were 2016 and 2017 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominees for Best Urban Fantasy. Additionally, the first book is a Locus bestseller and one of the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog’s Best Books of 2016. Other projects include the Japan-set YA romantic comedy I Love You So Mochi and a Batgirl/Cassandra Cain graphic novel for DC Comics. Additionally, Sarah was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer and the CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) New Writers Award. She has also written assorted short fiction, non-fiction, and comics about geeks, aliens, romance, and Barbie. Yes, that Barbie. You can visit her online at heroinecomplex.com or on Twitter: @sarahkuhn.

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Doctor Aphra (Star Wars)

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Doctor Aphra (Star Wars)

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