For a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights brought peace and order to the Galactic Republic, aided by their connection to the mystical energy field known as the Force. But they were betrayed—and the whole galaxy has paid the price. It is the Age of the Empire.
Now Emperor Palpatine, once chancellor of the Republic and secretly a Sith follower of the dark side of the Force, has brought his own peace and order to the galaxy. Peace, through brutal repression—and order, through increasing control of his subjects’ lives.
But even as the Emperor tightens his iron grip, others have begun to question his means and motives. And still others, whose lives were destroyed by Palpatine’s machinations, lay scattered about the galaxy like unexploded bombs, waiting to go off. . . .
Years earlier . . .
“It’s time for you to go home,” Obi-Wan Kenobi said.
The Jedi Master looked at the blinking lights on the panel to his right—and then at the students watching him. The aisle between the towering computer banks in the central security station was designed for a few Jedi doing maintenance, not a crowd; but the younglings fit right in, afraid to jostle one another in the presence of their teacher for the morning.
“That’s the meaning of this signal,” the bearded man said, turning again to the interface. Rows of blue lights twinkled in a sea of green indicators. He toggled a switch. “You can’t hear anything now, or see anything. Not here in the Jedi Temple. But away from Coruscant, on planets across the galaxy, those of our Order would get the message: Return home
Sitting on the floor with his classmates in the central security station, young Caleb Dume listened—but not intently. His mind wandered, as it often did when he tried to imagine being out in the field.
He was lean and wiry now—ruddy skin and blue eyes under a mop of black hair. He was just one of the crowd, not yet apprenticed to a mentor. But one day, he’d be out there,
traveling to exotic worlds with his Master. They’d provide peace and order for the citizens of the Galactic Republic, defeating evil wherever he found it.
Then he saw himself later as a Jedi Knight, fighting alongside the Republic’s clone warriors against the enemy Separatists. Sure, Republic Chancellor Palpatine had promised to resolve the war soon, but no one could be so rude as to end the war before Caleb got his chance.
And then, finally, he dared hope he would become a Jedi Master like Obi-Wan—accepted while still young as one of the wise sages of the Order. Then he’d really
do some great feats. He’d lead the valiant battle against the Sith, the legendary evil counterpart to the Jedi.
Of course, the Sith hadn’t been seen in a thousand years, and he knew of no shadow of their return. But in his ambitions Caleb was no different from the younglings around him, whatever the gender, whatever the species. The adolescent imagination knew no bounds.
The sandy-haired Jedi Master touched the panel again. “It’s just in test mode now,” Obi-Wan said. “No one will respond. But were there a true emergency, Jedi could receive the message in several ways.” He glanced down at his listeners. “There is the basic alert signal. And then there are other components, in which you might find more detailed text and holographic messages. No matter the format, the basic purpose should be clear—” “Go home!”
the collected students shouted.
Obi-Wan nodded. Then he saw a hand being raised. “The student in the back,” he said, fishing for a name.
“Caleb Dume, right?”
Obi-Wan smiled. “I’m learning, too.” The students giggled. “You have a question, Caleb?”
“Yes.” The boy took a breath. “Where?”
The other pupils laughed again, a little louder this time.
“Where’s home? Where do we go?”
Obi-Wan smiled. “To Coruscant, of course. Here, to the Jedi Temple. The recall is exactly what it sounds like.”
The teacher started to turn back to the beacon when he spotted
Caleb Dume jabbing his hand in the air again. Caleb wasn’t one to sit in front for every lesson—no one respected a teacher’s pet—but shyness had never been one of his afflictions.
“Why—” The boy’s voice cracked, to mild chuckles from his companions. He glared at the others and started again. “Why would you need all the Jedi here at once?”
“A very good question. Looking at this place, one would think we had all the Jedi we need!” Obi-Wan grinned at the students’ Masters, all standing outside in the more spacious control room, looking in. Out of the corner of his eye, Caleb could see Depa Billaba among them. Tan-skinned and dark-haired, she had shown interest in taking him on as her apprentice—and she studied him now from afar with her usual mostly patient look: What are you on about now, Caleb?
Caleb had wanted to shrink into the floor, then—when Obi-Wan addressed him directly. “Why don’t you
Caleb: What reasons would you
expect would cause us to recall every Jedi in the Order?”
Caleb’s heart pounded as he realized everyone was watching him. In his daily life, the boy never worried about being hassled for sounding off; the kids he regularly trained with knew he never backed down. But there were students in the gathering he’d never seen before, including older ones—not to mention the Jedi Masters. And Caleb had just blundered into a chance to impress a member of the High Council in front of everyone.
Or it was a chance to founder on the question, and take their abuse. There were so many possibilities— Including a trick question.
“I know the reasons you’d call them back,” Caleb finally said. “Unexpected
Riotous laughter erupted from the others, all semblance of respectful order disappearing at Caleb’s words. But Obi-Wan raised his hands. “That’s as good an answer as I’ve ever heard,” he said.
The group settled down, and Obi-Wan continued: “The truth, my young friends, is I simply don’t know. I could tell you of the many times over the course of the history of the Order when Jedi have been called back to Coruscant to deal with one threat or another. Some perilous times, which resulted in great heroics. There are truths, and there are legends touched with truth, and all can teach you something. I am sure Jocasta, our librarian, would help you explore more.” He clasped his hands together. “But no two events were alike—and when the signal is given again, that event will be unique, too. It’s my hope it will never be needed, but knowing about it is part of your training. So the important thing is, when you get the signal . . .” “ . . . go home!”
the children said, Caleb included.
“Very good.” Obi-Wan deactivated the signal and walked through the crowd to the exit. The students stood and filed back out into the control room, appreciating the wider space and chatting about their return to their other lessons. The field trip to this level of the Jedi Temple was over.
Caleb stood, too, but did not leave the aisle. The Jedi taught their students to look at all sides of things, and the thought occurred to him there was another side to what they’d just been shown. Brow furrowed, he started again to raise his hand. Then he realized he was the only one left. No one was looking, or listening.
Except Obi-Wan, standing in the doorway. “What is it?” the Master called out over the din. Behind him, the others quieted, freezing in place. “What is it, Caleb?”
Surprised to have been noticed, Caleb swallowed. He saw Master Billaba frowning a little, no doubt wondering what her impulsive prospect was on about now. It was a good time to shut up. But standing alone in the aisle between the banks of lights, he was committed. “This beacon. It can send any
“Ah,” Obi-Wan said. “No, we wouldn’t use it for regular administrative matters. As Jedi Knights—which I very much hope you will all become—you will receive such instructions individually, using less dramatic forms of—”
“Can you send people away?”
A gasp came from the group. Interrupted but not visibly irritated, Obi-Wan stared. “I’m sorry?”
“Can you send people away?” Caleb asked, pointing at the beacon controls. “It can recall every Jedi at once. Could it warn all of them away?”
The room behind Obi-Wan buzzed with whispered conversations. Master Billaba stepped into the computer room, apparently wanting to put an end to an awkward moment. “I think that’s enough, Caleb. Excuse us, Master Kenobi. We value your time.”
Obi-Wan wasn’t looking at her. He was staring back at the beacon, too, now, contemplating. “No, no,” he finally said, gesturing to the crowd without turning. “Please wait.” He scratched the back of his head and turned back to the gathering. “Yes,” he said, quietly. “I suppose it could be used to warn Jedi away.”
The students fairly rumbled with discussions in reaction. Warn Jedi away? Jedi didn’t run! Jedi rushed toward danger! Jedi stood, Jedi fought!
The other Masters stepped in, beckoning to Obi-Wan. “Students,” said one elder, “there’s no reason to—”
reason,” Obi-Wan said, pointing his index finger to the air. He sought Caleb’s gaze. “Only what our young friend said: unexpected reasons.”
A hush fell over the group. Caleb, reluctant to say anything else, let another student ask what he was thinking. “What then? If you send us all away, what then?”
Obi-Wan thought for a moment before turning toward the students and giving a warm and reassuring smile. “The same as any other time. You will obey the directive—and await the next one.” Raising his arms, he dismissed the assembly. “Thank you for your time.”
The students filed out of the control room quickly, still talking. Caleb remained, watching Obi-Wan disappear through another doorway. His eyes turned back to the beacon.
He could sense Master Billaba watching him. He looked back to see her, alone, waiting in the doorway. The frown was gone; her eyes were warm and caring. She gestured for him to follow her. He did.
“My young strategist has been thinking again,” she said as they stepped into the elevator. “Any other questions?” “Await orders.”
Caleb gazed at the floor, and then up at her. “What if orders never come? I won’t know what to do.”
“Maybe you will.”
“Maybe I won’t.”
She watched him, thoughtful. “All right, maybe you won’t. But anything is possible,” she said, putting her arm on his shoulder as the door opened. “Perhaps the answer will come to you in another form.”
Caleb didn’t know what that meant. But then it was Master Billaba’s way to speak in riddles, and, as always, he forgot about them as soon as he stepped out onto the floor where the young Jedi trained. On any given day, room after room would see the mightiest warriors in the galaxy teaching the next generation in lightsaber combat, acrobatics, hand-to-hand fighting—even starship piloting, using simulators. Every discipline imaginable where a kinship with the mystical Force, the energy field all Jedi drew upon for strength, could come in handy.
And those he saw were just a tiny fraction of the Jedi Order, which had outposts and operatives throughout the known galaxy. True, the Galactic Republic was at war now with the Separatists, but the Jedi had thwarted threats for a thousand generations. How could anyone or anything challenge them?
Caleb arrived in front of a room where his classmates were already at work, sparring with wooden staffs. One of his regular dueling partners, a red-skinned humanoid boy, met him in the doorway, training weapon in hand. He had also attended the lecture. “Welcome, Young Master Serious,” he said, smirking. “What was all that back there with Master Kenobi?”
“Forget it,” Caleb said, pushing past him into the room and reaching for his own training weapon. “It’s nothing.”
“But wait!” The other boy’s free hand shot up into the air, mimicking Caleb’s questioning. “Ooh! Ooh! Call on me!”
“Yeah, you’re going to want to focus, buddy, because I’m going to whip your tail.” Caleb smiled and went to work.
THIS IS OBI-WAN KENOBI
REPUBLIC FORCES HAVE BEEN TURNED AGAINST THE JEDI
AVOID CORUSCANT, AVOID DETECTION
MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU
Copyright © 2014 by Lucasfilm Ltd.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.