The Fifth Brother attacks in Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars excerpt
Star Wars fans were ready to turn to the Dark Side en masse upon hearing that the release date for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, the sequel to the wildly successful Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order video game, had been pushed back six weeks from March 17 to April 28. BOOOOOOOO!
Fear not, though, for the Stinger Mantis crew is returning on March 7 in a new book by Sam Maggs titled Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars, and we've got your first taste of the action right here and now.
Battle Scars provides an entirely new adventure set in between the events of Fallen Order and Survivor. Below, we've got a juicy exclusive excerpt to get you ready. But first, here's the official description of the book:
"Cal Kestis has built a new life for himself with the crew of the Stinger Mantis. Together, Cal's crew has brought down bounty hunters, defeated Inquisitors, and even evaded Darth Vader himself. More important, Merrin, Cere, Greez, and faithful droid BD-1 are the closest thing Cal has had to a family since the fall of the Jedi Order. Even as the galaxy's future grows more uncertain by the day, with each blow struck against the Empire the Mantis crew grows more daring.
"On what should be a routine mission, they meet a stormtrooper determined to chart her own course with the help of Cal and the crew. In exchange for help starting a new life, the Imperial deserter brings word of a powerful, potentially invaluable tool for their fight against the Empire. And even better, she can help them get to it. The only catch—pursuing it will bring them into the path of one of the Empire's most dangerous servants, the Inquisitor known as the Fifth Brother.
"Can the Imperial deserter truly be trusted? And while Cal and his friends have survived run-ins with the Inquisitors before, how many times can they evade the Empire before their luck runs out?"
In this exclusive excerpt, Cere and Cal do battle with a familiar foe: the fearsome Fifth Brother Inquisitor (also seen on Obi-Wan Kenobi and Rebels). As a bonus, you can listen to the audiobook version of this excerpt on this week's episode of EW's Star Wars podcast, Dagobah Dispatch.
STAR WARS JEDI: BATTLE SCARS EXCERPT
When a mission goes awry, Cere and Cal find themselves face-to-face with the Inquisitor known as the Fifth Brother.
Reaching out through the Force was second nature to Cere at this point in her life. It was as much one of her senses as sight or smell, a constant input and output from her energetic body that pulsed into the world around her, flowed through her mind, seeped out of her pores. She let her mind roll out through her palm, across the rapidly closing space between herself and the onrushing Inquisitor, into his lightsaber, and all at once time slowed.
Her nerves felt electrified as she rushed down each side of the sword, its blazing atoms searing her brain, and she willed it, just enough, not too much to get her into trouble, to hold.
She knew what Cal would see, from where he was getting back on his feet. He would see the Inquisitor slow like he was hitting a wall of water, his feet betraying his own orders to continue their forward motion. He would see the red lightsaber and its circular threat halt, frozen mid-spin, returning to its less dangerous form. He would watch the Inquisitor sweat as he tried to push back through the Force, to regain control over himself and over his lightsaber, and he would see the dawning fear on the Inquisitor's face as he realized he was outmatched.
Cere had faced down Darth Vader himself and lived. She had come the closest any living soul ever had to ending the Sith's reign of terror over the galaxy. She was possibly the most powerful remaining Jedi in existence.
And she wasn't going to let this punk forget it.
She felt the pushback through the Force, the Inquisitor's attempt at ruining her control, and bit down on her bottom lip. There was a way to end him through the Force, just like this, and it would be so easy. It would be an assured victory. To flow up from his lightsaber over his arms, to spill over his shoulders and creep around his neck before he even became suspicious, before he was even able to notice. All she'd have to do was curl her fingers into a claw as she squeezed the Force around his neck. She would watch the light drain from his eyes and she would know that the Mantis crew would be safe, that the future of the Jedi Order would be one step closer to assured.
Connecting to that energy—to the dark side—that was how she'd held out for so long against Vader.
She knew it, and Vader had, too.
But that was a slippery slope to nowhere good, and Cere didn't have to go there ever again. Not against someone who pulsed back at her through the Force with raw emotion, all rage and spite and lack of control.
And, of course, one of the ways the dark side lied to you was by trying to convince you it was the only way. For in truth, it was Cere connecting to the light again that had allowed her to defeat Vader in that moment, after all.
She could feel that the Fifth Brother was getting ready to break. But she would use the light to break him first.
With a yell, Cere dropped her hand and the control over the Inquisitor's lightsaber and movement and flung herself toward him, launching herself forward with her blue blade. It took him too long to realize he'd been freed; he wasn't ready for her when she came at him in a flurry of swipes that put him on the defensive. With each clash of their weapons, Cere hit again and again, matching his style almost exactly, knowing that it would disconcert him and keep him off balance to see his own technique mimicked back at him, and more effectively.
"Want to finish this together?" Cal was beside her, lightsaber out and up at the ready, and the Inquisitor's eyes were wide at the challenge of two Jedi at once, both bearing down on him with a ferocity he clearly hadn't been expecting when he showed up to take down Cal on his own.
The Inquisitor was clearly infuriated by this development; all his energy was now focused on the fight at hand. He barely managed to dodge a swing from Cal's blade without going reeling into Cere's, and she knew they had him.
If they kept on like this, they could destroy him.
But Cere knew that wasn't always the way. She had to try.
Just as with Trilla, she had to try.
Using the same energy she had a moment ago, Cere threw up her other hand as she blocked an attack with her lightsaber—but this time, she stopped Cal and his lightsaber in their tracks.
The Inquisitor paused in surprise as Cal, too, gurgled his shock from next to her, the only sound he could manage while frozen.
"This isn't the only way," Cere said through gritted teeth, holding back his weapon with hers, arms straining in the effort of it. "You can leave them. Come back to the light. It isn't too late."
The Fifth Brother paused, for just a moment. Cere watched a shadow pass over his eyes, reflected in the red light of his blade.
And then he laughed, breaking away from Cere's lightsaber, lunging backward, and swinging madly toward Cal.
Cere dropped her hold on Cal just quickly enough for him to throw up his sword in defense, which infuriated the Inquisitor no end. With a snap, the Fifth Brother disconnected the two sides of his lightsaber, wielding one in each hand. Cere focused on his right while Cal bore down on him from the left. The Inquisitor was strong, but it was two against one, and Cere could still manipulate some of his movements through the Force, could still anticipate his next move before he made it. Together, Cere and Cal pushed forward, keeping the pressure on the Fifth Brother, meeting and matching each one of his blows with one of their own. He was outmatched and overpowered but his stamina was endless; he met each of their hits with one of his, both of his hands moving at lightning speed, rarely reaching for the Force, relying purely on his skill with the blade to try to keep them on the defensive.
The question, the wondering, even for a split second, was a distraction Cere couldn't afford. The Fifth Brother saw his moment through the sweat dripping into Cere's eyes and he took it, lunging forward with both swords as Cal rebounded from a parry, and Cere was just too slow by just a fraction of a second, and one of his red lightsabers burned into her shoulder before she could spin away.
It was the worst thing that could have happened in that moment. Cal looked over in shock, worried about Cere—he was too attached, would always protect his allies over everyone else at all costs, even if his ally told him to do otherwise. It was always going to be an issue with him, but it was also what made him so good, and Cere wasn't ever really sure what to do with that, how to handle it, and right now it looked like it would be his own downfall. The Inquisitor threw out a hand, shoving Cal back off his feet and up into the air, slamming him into the ceiling with so much speed that Cere winced when she heard the concrete crack under the force of it.
She had to make a split-second decision as Cal, unconscious from the hit, came tumbling back to the ground, and there was no choice at all, not really, even though she knew she would be leaving herself vulnerable. Cere pulled her focus back from the Inquisitor just long enough to cushion Cal's fall with the Force, to catch him and place him gently on solid ground.
It was enough of an opening for the Fifth Brother to regain control over the situation, just as Cere knew it would be.
And there would only be one way out.
Cere had less than a second before the Fifth Brother's lightsaber was slicing up toward her abdomen with every intention of cutting her in two straight up the middle, ruthless and unstoppable.
For anyone who wasn't Cere.
Reaching deep into the Force had a feeling to it, a rush that Cere knew would be addicting if she gave in to it one too many times, if she let that channel stay open longer than was absolutely necessary. It felt like triumph and glee, spice and starfire skee, like there was something telling her she was meant to feel this way and wasn't everything better like this and didn't she want to stay here forever, couldn't she just live in this right here and never leave?
That's what it felt like.
There was a time when Cere would have reached out to the dark side of the Force in a moment like this. Had done so, first to save Trilla, then to save Cal from Vader. But she knew better than to go there again. Would never go there again.
Cere saw Cal hit the ceiling, watched the twitch of the Inquisitor's lightsaber as it changed course to gut her, and all she felt—all she allowed herself to feel—was empathy.
Empathy for Cal, and for everything he'd lost. For this poor Inquisitor, and for the Knight of Good he was supposed to be. For herself, and the way she'd had to run from everything and everyone in this damn galaxy for her entire life, if only to save it. But most of all, empathy for even the Sith; for the people who would misunderstand and misuse their galaxy-given purpose to destroy balance in the Force, to bend it to their will alone, all for the glory of power and empire and personal gain. That seemed so very lonely.
Cere let her empathy flow through her, and the Fifth Brother's lightsaber shattered wide into its component parts.
Not like an explosion, nothing so uncontrolled. It was more like an unmaking, an unraveling, each piece of the lightsaber separating itself from the next, spiraling outward into a little galaxy itself, orbiting the now exposed kyber crystal at its core.
Cere looked up into the Fifth Brother's shocked eyes as the tiny pieces of what was once his lightsaber clattered to the floor.
She saw awe in his eyes, and in that moment—all Cere wanted was to see more.
She could help this man.
She could help them all.
Reprinted from Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars by Sam Maggs. Copyright © 2023 by Lucasfilm Ltd. Published by Random House Worlds, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Listen to the audiobook version of this excerpt on this week's episode of EW's Star Wars podcast, Dagobah Dispatch.
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