Red Harvest is a novel written by Joe Schreiber, and a prequel to his earlier work, Death Troopers. Originally titled Black Orchid, the book was released on December 28, 2010. A hardcover horror novel, it reveals the origin of the virus from the original book. On April 23, Sue Rostoni posted on the official site forums that the novel was re-titled due to internal concerns that the title Black Orchid sounded too much like a romance novel. The book was released in paperback on February 28, 2012. Narration for the audio version was performed by John Glover.
The era of the Old Republic is a dark and dangerous time, as Jedi Knights valiantly battle the Sith Lords and their ruthless armies. But the Sith have disturbing plans—and none more so than the fulfillment of Darth Scabrous’s fanatical dream, which is about to become nightmarish reality.
Unlike those other Jedi sidelined to the Agricultural Corps—young Jedi whose abilities have not proved up to snuff—Hestizo Trace possesses one extraordinary Force talent: a gift with plants. Suddenly her quiet existence among greenhouse and garden specimens is violently destroyed by the arrival of an emissary from Darth Scabrous. For the rare black orchid that she has nurtured and bonded with is the final ingredient in an ancient Sith formula that promises to grant Darth Scabrous his greatest desire.
But at the heart of the formula is a never-before-seen virus that’s worse than fatal—it doesn’t just kill, it transforms. Now the rotting, ravenous dead are rising, driven by a bloodthirsty hunger for all things living—and commanded by a Sith Master with an insatiable lust for power and the ultimate prize: immortality . . . no matter the cost.
At the Odacer-Faustin Sith Academy, its leader Darth Scabrous secretly hires the Whiphid bounty hunter Tulkh. Tulkh's job is to steal the Murakami orchid from the Jedi Agricultural Corps facility on the planet Marfa for unknown but sinister reasons. When Tulkh steals the orchid, however, he finds that he cannot take it back to Scabrous alive without the plant's handler, Padawan Hestizo Trace. Taking them both back to the academy, the Sith Lord mixes the orchid in a strange device hooked up to Sith apprentice Wim Nickter, who had been taken by Scabrous for his purposes. Nickter dies, but comes back as a zombie. His infection quickly spreads throughout the academy in a single night, infecting even Scabrous himself. Hestizo soon finds herself trapped with Tulkh in trying to fight off hordes of zombies. Meanwhile, Scabrous preoccupies himself with finding a way to become immortal without the side effect of becoming a mindless monster. He does this when he turns the Neti librarian, Dail'Liss, into a zombie by infecting him and commanding him to lure Hestizo to the library by mimicking the voice of the orchid, still alive amidst the infection known as the Sickness. The plan works after she and Tulkh part ways. Scabrous straps Hestizo down on a sacrificial altar, ready to cut out her heart with a traditional Sith sword and become forever immortal.
Meanwhile, as Tulkh does his best to survive and find a way off of Odacer-Faustin himself, he comes into contact with Scabrous's personal HK-series assassin droid and modifies it for its combat functions against the zombies. Together, the two of them make it back towards Tulkh's ship, the Mirocaw, where they find a stowaway named Pergus Frode on board. Frode was the mechanic for the previous crew hired by Scabrous for the purpose of retrieving a black orchid previously. And with that crew killed earlier by Scabrous for their failure, Frode had been stranded and was himself doing his best to survive the zombie epidemic.
Back at the base of the Sith library, Hestizo is able to free herself from Scabrous's sacrifice, but before Scabrous can outright kill her, Hestizo's brother, Rojo, arrives and briefly duels the Sith Lord. Scabrous wins and kills Rojo, but Hestizo is able to kill him by telepathically convincing the orchid to sprout itself outward from his head, severely weakening him. She is then able to finish off Scabrous, now a complete zombie, using his own Sith sword against him. Then Hestizo escapes infection from the remaining Sith zombies when the Mirocaw, piloted by Pergus Frode, flies in to save her. The ship manages to evade Scabrous's perimeter defenses long enough to reach the roof of Scabrous's personal tower. There, the HK manages to manipulate the perimeter defenses to destroy the tower instead of the Mirocaw as zombies invade the roof and the ship flies away. The tower is destroyed, along with all the remaining zombies and the droid, while the ship flies off into space.
Even there, Hestizo finds that the Sickness still has a chance of infecting the rest of the galaxy. She realizes this when she sees that Tulkh had chained himself up against a wall when he felt the Sickness taking over him. This had happened back on the planet when an infected tauntaun's spittle dribbled into his eye, getting past his notice. Tulkh asks Hestizo to open up the wall he chained himself to so that he will be blown out into the vacuum of space. Before she can do so, however, an infected apprentice from the academy, Rance Lussk, attacks, but Hestizo is able to avoid his attack and send both Tulkh and Lussk out into space. She seals the room from they were blown out of, and rests assured that the Sickness is over.
Hestizo returns to Marfa where a new black orchid is waiting for her care. However, she instead decides to return to Coruscant where she can resume her proper Jedi studies.
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Behind the scenesEdit
The first draft of the novel contained a character named Middish Sunblade, modeled after Holden Caulfield, but Sunblade was removed from the rewrite because he was whiny and nobody could stand him.
Toward the end of the novel, Hestizo Trace mentions returning to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant in order to further her education and training. This is an error, as the Temple was destroyed during the Sacking of Coruscant, eight years before the setting of the novel.
Red Harvest was originally called Black Orchid. It was a reference to the Murakami orchid at the bloody heart of the "Sickness". The final title Red Harvest is a nod to Return of the Jedi's code name Blue Harvest: Horror Beyond Imagination.
For the German edition published by Blanvalet, the novel was re-titled Darth Scabrous.