When Star Wars fans think of Corellia, they think of Han Solo. They think of Qi’ra. Maybe they think of piloting the Millennium Falcon there for Hondo Onaka. What they don’t think of is Jedi roaming the streets, but that’s going to change in Star Wars: The High Republic: Midnight Horizon by Daniel José Older—and we’ve got a look inside.
Set centuries before Han was Solo, Midnight Horizon is a YA novel telling a story in the High Republic Star Wars timeline. It’s out February 1 and follows two Jedi Masters, Cohmac Vitus and Kantam Sy, and their Padawans, Reath Silas and Ram Jomaram, who are dispatched to Corellia to investigate an attack by the evil Nihil. All of this occurs around the same time as the events in Claudia Gray’s The Fallen Star. Of course, as Padawans tend to do, they go off on their own and that’s where this exclusive excerpt picks up.
“One of the most fun parts of Midnight Horizon is the chaotic, joyful, sometimes dangerous camaraderie among the Jedi and their allies,” Older told io9 via email. “In this scene, we find Ram and Reath learning about the mean streets of Corellia with a new friend who they’re not sure if they can trust. As you can probably tell, I had a lot of fun writing this.”
Oh, you can definitely tell—it’s a section filled with fun, witty Star Wars banter, as well as familiar creatures, catchphrases, and more. Check it out below the cover.
“Okay, hold up.” Crash raised her hand as they approached the turnoff that led to where two burly municipal officers guarded the shipyard entrance. The boys stopped in their tracks and glanced around warily. At least they knew enough to keep an eye out for trouble; that was something. And they seemed overall to be sensible lads with good hearts. Whether or not they were any use in a jam was another question, but time would tell. She eyed them. “We have a deal?”
Ram grinned. “Abso—”
“Ram,” Reath said. “Hold on. We don’t agree to deals we don’t fully understand.”
“That’s wise,” Crash allowed.
“The deal is this: you take us to the famous, impossible-to-get-into shipyard that Ram is dying to see, and we . . .” Reath made go on circles with his hands.
“Pretend to be my minions so we can solve the disappearance of my frie—employees.”
“And whether the Nihil are responsible,” Ram added. “Our interests actually align, basically.”
“If we’re helping you,” Reath said, “it means you’re being up-front with us. We’re sharing information. Remember, we just met you.”
“And yet you find me strangely charming and reliable?” Crash suggested.
“I do,” Ram admitted.
“That’s beside the point,” Reath said. “But yes.”
“Yes, we have a deal, or yes, you find me charming and reliable?”
Ram and Reath traded glances. Then the older boy narrowed his eyes. “Yes, I find you charming. Reliable remains to be seen.” He stuck out his hand. “And yes, we have a deal.”
“Wizard!” Ram yelled, pumping his fist one time. Crash blinked at him. “I’m going to understand that to be a good thing.” She placed a single credit in Reath’s hand and another in Ram’s. “So here. Let’s do it!”
Ram squinted at it like it might jump up and bite him. “What’s this?”
“Money,” Crash said. “For to purchase things.”
“I know that!” Ram growled. “But I mean—”
“You can’t pay us,” Reath said, offering the credit back to her. “We’re Jedi. That would be . . . weird.”
Crash was already heading toward the corner. “It’s one credit. Give it away, for all I care. But if you’re working for me, even just pretend working for me, you gotta be on payroll. For clarity’s sake, if nothing else.” She pulled out her comlink. “Ten-Kayt?”
“Here, Master Crash.”
“Make a note in the fi les that we have two new employees, please. Just put”—she eyed them—“Starlight A and Starlight B. Fee: one credit each.”
She rounded the corner and immediately let out a low groan.
“What is it?” Ram asked as he and Reath fell into step beside her.
The two guards, a Gamorrean and a bored-looking burly human, were in municipal police uniforms, but they weren’t any of the ones she knew. Of course they weren’t. Most of the recent hires were brought specifically to protect the Santhe Shipyards, and from what Crash had heard, they were a bunch of randoms that nobody, not even the assorted low-lifes and street thugs of the Bottoms, knew anything about.
“Things are just never as simple as they could be,” she said. She had hoped maybe one thing could be easy one time. But no. “Doesn’t matter. C’mon.”
“Greetings, excellent pig!” Crash snorted in Gamorrean as the first guard strutted up to them, already looking for a fight.
He released a string of swears that they definitely didn’t teach in Intro to Gamorrean. Fortunately, she had learned on the mean streets of the shipyards, so she replied in kind, with an even more colorful epic saga of horrific things about the guy’s grandma, forefathers, how he had sprung from a pile of rancor poodoo and looked it, and how all his nieces and nephews were regurgitated fetal worrts. A lovely language, truly.
For a brief moment, the guard just blinked at her with his piggy little eyes.
“Uh,” Reath said quietly. The kid was probably reaching for his lightsaber, just in case.
Then the guard let out an enormous, fatuous guffaw and ran over to embrace Crash. It was one of the least pleasant hugs she’d ever gotten, but it was better than having her face split in two by his sizable bayonet. He threw a sweaty arm over her shoulder and proceeded to escort her and the others toward the gate, demanding to know how she had come to speak Gamorrean so colorfully and how she knew so much about his family, and on and on.
“Hold it,” the human guard demanded, putting up one hand and still looking like he could barely be bothered to even stand at all. “Borgar, what are you doing making friends? Nobody gets in. Period. Not even Jedi.”
The guy had a large blaster rifle slung over his shoulder, which was . . . unusual for a muni. Crash made a tiny mental note about it and then got to work. “My friends are visiting from out of town, sir, to get medicine, you see—they’re from a very small planet with no resources, and I promised their dear dying mother that I would show them the famous ship-yards of Coronet City before they returned to her bedside!”
“It’s true,” Ram piped up awkwardly. It was a good effort though; at least he was willing to play along.
“Not my problem,” the guard said. “Their problem.”
Borgar released Crash and got in the other guard’s personal space, snorting and squealing.
“I don’t speak pig!” the guy yelled, right before getting his jaw broken by a solid left hook. He dropped fast, and Borgar got to work lugging him into the guard house.
“Thanks, excellent pig!” Crash yelled in Gamorrean, gesturing elaborately at the boys to follow her into the yards. “Your grandfather is an absolute bag of festering garbage!”
Borgar waved and snorted a cheerful curse-out in reply and then went about his business.
“When you said you could get us into anywhere in Corellia we wanted to go,” Reath said, glaring down at her once they’d made it a little ways in and ducked behind a warehouse, “I thought you meant you had behind-the-scenes passes or something! Not that you were going to con some helpless Gamorrean into assaulting his work buddy.”
Crash got on her tiptoes to almost reach Reath’s chin and held up one finger. “He was hardly helpless.” Then another. “That was clearly not his buddy.” Then a third. “And I never said how we’d get in, in part because I didn’t know. It depended where you guys wanted to go and also who happened to be at the door that day. Okay?”
“I thought it was pretty wizard,” Ram said, standing between them but a safe distance away. “Personally.”
“What happened to you being up-front with us about your plans?” Reath demanded.
“It’s called improvising. I can’t be up-front with you about plans I don’t know about until they happen. Next time I’ll ask the huge war hog to hold on a moment while I explain to my partners how we’re going to confuse him. Cool?”
“And anyway, who’s the one being deceitful, mighty Jedi Knights?”
That stopped Reath like a smack in the face, just like it was supposed to. Crash kept her smile inside—there was no point rubbing it in.
“Oh, yeah, that one was my bad,” Ram said.
Reath pivoted, but it was too late for that. “We are technically Jedi of Starlight Beacon, which is what you asked.”
“Uh-huh. A lie by omission is still a lie, last I heard,” Crash countered.
“How did you know?” Reath asked, deflated.
Crash cocked her head to one side, eyes wide. “How did I know that the Jedi Council, in their infinite wisdom, didn’t send two goofy kids to investigate a potential incursion of Nihil raiders deeper into the galactic Core than they’ve ever been, all by themselves?”
“Goofy?” Ram complained.
“Okay, I take that part back,” Crash allowed. “The point remains. Also, I saw the other two Jedi leaving before I came in, and they were clearly older than you two. And they didn’t have those cute little plaits you fellas wear.”
Ram pulled his Padawan braid out from where he’d tucked it into his bun and held it in front of his face. “You think they’re cute?”
“You mean you were staking out the place,” Reath said, “waiting for us to be on our own before you came over and conned us.”
“It’s not a con!” Crash insisted. “I’ve told you exactly what I’m doing this whole time!” She shook her head. “I gotta tell Svi’no this being up-front with people thing is not all it’s cracked up to be.”
“Who’no?” Ram asked.
“She’s a big-deal singer,” Reath informed him, not looking particularly impressed. “And Crash here is clearly name-dropping.”
“She’s the greatest music artist the galaxy has ever known,” Crash said. “And I can’t help it if my friends are a big deal. She’s also a royal pain in my ass. Point is—we’re even, okay? Yes, I waited till the adults were gone, because I deal with enough already at work, and all they do is underestimate you until you prove yourself smarter than them and then act surprised that what you’ve been saying all along is true. It’s exhausting. I keep a very small, select group of ’em in my inner circle, and all of them are on payroll. And anyway: adults come with too many rules. Can you honestly imagine Master Surly Ponytail and Master Muttonchops rolling with us on that last little stunt?”
“Master Muttonchops!” Ram squealed, covering his mouth to mute the giggles.
Reath looked like he was doing everything in his power not to crack up. Crash decided she liked him all right, even if he was a little stuck in his ways. And Ram was obviously the greatest kid in the galaxy; he just needed to work on his acting skills a bit.
All things considered, she’d ended up with a pretty good set of potential partners, she had to admit. “So,” she said, folding her arms across her chest. “We’re even. Truce?”
Reath smiled out of the corner of his mouth, still trying not to laugh. Nodded. “Truce.”
“Now let’s go see these starshiiiiips!” Ram yelled, already running off .
Star Wars: The High Republic: Midnight Horizon is out February 1, and is available to pre-order here.
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