Sure, Star Wars brings a lot of people back these days, and sometimes, it can be a little much. But we’re going to make an exception for Mike Chen’s new novel Brotherhood, an Obi-Wan and Anakin team-up set in the early days of the Clone Wars, when it lets us revisit Dex’s Diner and its beloved four-armed proprietor.
io9 is excited to give you a look inside the next Star Wars novel from Del Rey and Lucasfilm, Mike Chen’s Brotherhood. Set just after Attack of the Clones, as the fires of the Clone War begin to spark across the galaxy, Brotherhood sees Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker’s relationship evolve: no longer Master and Padawan, but fellow Jedi Knights on the burgeoning front lines of an interstellar conflict. But when their first mission together as Knights takes Obi-Wan and Anakin to the heart of the Separatist movement to investigate a bombing on the Trade Federation hubworld, Cato Neimoidia, the duo will have to find a new way to balance their loving, tempestuous relationship—and become the brothers they were by the time of Anakin’s tragic downfall in Revenge of the Sith.
All that’s well and dramatic of course, but you’re not here for Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Generals of the Clone Wars, are you? No, you’re here for everyone’s favorite bartending Besalik, Dex! As Obi-Wan’s investigation of what’s going down on Cato Neimoidia begins, in our exclusive excerpt from Brotherhood the Jedi Master turns to an old friend once again for advice... and perhaps some dessert. Read our full excerpt from Star Wars: Brotherhood below, or if you’d prefer, you can hear it in audiobook form in the video below, read by Jonathan Davis!
“The Neimoidians.” The hologram of the bombing fizzled as Dex poked at it, then swiped it aside to pull up data on the Trade Federation’s purse worlds. “Unique species. Their brains are wired for calculation. Everything is an instinctive risk assessment to them. Some call it cowardly. I think it’s a strong survival instinct, percentages and risk. I worked with some, back in my black-market days. Quick thinkers. I’d want them on my side. Picking a side means losing half your customers, though.” Dex straightened up, his massive shoulders suddenly looking like mountains as he stood behind the bar. “In most cases.”
“So that’s it. Appeal to their sense of risk. How do you recommend going about that?” Obi-Wan lifted his plate. “Bring them cake?”
“They don’t have a tidy relationship with the Republic, I’ll tell you that. And not exactly with the Jedi, either. If I recall, you were involved with some of that.”
Obi-Wan’s voice dropped his sense of humor. “Nute Gunray is considered an extremist by their government. Senator Lott Dod—”
“There you go again. You Jedi, getting lost in the details.”
Obi-Wan tapped his fork against his plate. “So go with cake then?”
“Perhaps.” Dex stretched out, upper arms reaching overhead while his lower arms clutched his belly. “It’s simple, really. Cato Neimoidia is the base of operations for the Trade Federation. Long memories, those Neimoidians.”
“Make them forget.” Obi-Wan waved his hand, prompting a laugh from Dex. “I don’t know if one Jedi is powerful enough to do that.”
“Not forget. Show them that sending Palpatine might invite more trouble than it’s worth. And show them that a Jedi isn’t going to tear through them like at Naboo.” Obi-Wan nodded, his mind reframing options to Dex’s new direction. “Remember, it’s all numbers to them. It’s what got them where they are. See, all of the Republic types think it’s their ideology.” Dex shook his head with a chuckle. “That’s shortsighted. It’s a strategy, not politics. Their neutrality is different from the neutrality your old friend preaches.”
Obi-Wan had known Dex a long time, going back to a youthful misadventure out in the Unknown Regions. And though they only saw each other occasionally, his old friend knew just how to needle him.
This particular jab was so effective that a grin slipped through, and Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow in subtle acknowledgment.
“What old friend?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Dresses better than you. Striking eyes. Mandalorian royalty. Used to call you Ben, for some reason,” Dex said with one of his hearty chuckles. “That one. I hear she’s quite the savvy politician.”
Obi-Wan wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of saying her name out loud, or the fact that the Duchess Satine of Mandalore was maintaining neutrality in the Clone Wars to ensure that her people didn’t return to their previous warlike ways. “Ah, the simple foolishness of impulsive youth.”
“You keep telling yourself that, old buddy. I don’t know, why don’t you ask her about neutrality instead of an old slug at a diner?”
“Well, it’s simple, Dex. I wanted dessert.” To prove the point, Obi-Wan stabbed two pieces of cake, one from each layer, then took them down in one bite. “So suppose I convince them. The Republic sends a Jedi,” he continued, still chewing. “Then what?”
“I’d say it starts with the bombing. What was targeted, how was it done, and why?”
Obi-Wan clicked a button on the holoprojector to deactivate it, then tapped the datapad before sliding it over. “I’m glad you asked.”
Dex took one glance at the numbers and lists on the pad, then pushed it back. “No, no, no. See, you’re looking at the wrong thing here. All you’ve got is facts.”
Another eyebrow rose, though this one had nothing to do with Satine Kryze. “What’s so bad about facts, Dex?”
“Without context, facts are useless.” The holographic images returned as Dex tapped the pad with his large finger, then started swiping through. “You look at this and you see blast radius, casualty total, potential targets. What is the context?” he asked, tapping his finger with every word of his question.
“The context is—” Obi-Wan took in a breath. “We know the Republic didn’t do it.” Dex started to retort but Obi-Wan held up a finger. “We assume the Republic didn’t do it. The Separatists say they didn’t. The Trade Federation is neutral.”
“Whoever did it is an extremist. Regardless of side. Correct?” Dex asked. His question came with a tangible weight, and in that moment Obi-Wan considered that Dex would have made a really good teacher for a Padawan.
“Fair to assume. And the Trade Federation considers Nute Gunray an extremist.”
“Extremism only escalates when it’s left unchecked. When you stay neutral in the face of it.” The Besalisk gave a knowing grin. “But what if you could turn the Trade Federation into an ally? Make neutrality seem like the”—Dex’s chuckle echoed through the space—“risky thing to do.”
Obi-Wan nodded, the remaining food on his plate suddenly forgotten. Dex was right: Going to Cato Neimoidia, treating things strictly as an investigation to clear the Republic’s name—that would only keep the Trade Federation neutral. And that neutrality would in itself enable the war to escalate. “This catastrophe,” Obi-Wan said, pointing to the looping simulation of the attack, “may also be an opportunity.”
“Senator Lott Dod acts as a firewall for the Trade Federation. Getting an audience with their leadership is nearly impossible. But this provides us a direct opportunity to speak to them. To be heard. Possibly.” He leaned back on his stool, hand over his beard. “Especially right now, while the war is young.”
“Now you’re getting it. So the first trick is to get them to accept a Jedi. And while that Jedi is earning their trust, perhaps talking them out of neutrality. Easy, right?” Dex looked over his shoulder. “Wanda?”
The waitress droid rolled to the kitchen window. “Ya need something, hon?”
Dex took a bite from the remaining cake slices, then looked at the chrono on the wall. “Brew a new pot of caf, please. We’re gonna be a while.”
“You got it, boss. Cream and sugar in yours, hon?”
“Oh, no,” Obi-Wan said. “I prefer my caf straight black.”
Star Wars: Brotherhood hits shelves as both a hardcover novel and an unabridged audiobook on May 10—just in time for you to get into the Kenobi mood before Obi-Wan Kenobi begins streaming on Disney+ later in May.
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