By George Bate
While being treated to grand stories set after the original trilogy in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, other recent Star Wars stories like Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi tell tales in the Imperial era between episodes III and IV. Long before the events of any of these series, however, are tales from a more civilized age…the High Republic.
A new special edition collecting five, two-part short stories set in the High Republic era is coming soon from Star Wars Insider. These stories offer a perfect, approachable point of entry for those who have not explored the High Republic era yet, but will also complement the array of novels and books already released for fans already exposed to this era.
Star Wars Insider: The High Republic: Starlight Stories features short stories written by The New York Times bestselling authors Justina Ireland, Cavan Scott, and Charles Soule, in addition to insightful interviewers with the writers about how they craft these Star Wars tales.
Below, check out an exclusive preview of one of the collection’s short stories Hidden Danger – Part I by Justina Ireland.
Velko Jahen and Ghal Tarpfen raced through the hallway outside Starlight Beacon’s security hub to the nearest elevator, Ghal punching the button that would take them to the main concourse with a brutality that belied her inner distress.
“Do you think we’ll make it in time to keep them from hurting each other?” Velko wondered aloud.
“We can only help,” Ghal said. As soon as the doors slid open, they charged out of the car and into a crush of bodies. As they forced their way through the baying mob, Velko struggled to figure out how things had turned so bad, so fast…
ONE DAY EARLIER
It was all wrong.
Velko looked at the banner hanging above the main bank of elevators that serviced the primary docking bays for Starlight Beacon and sighed. “Welcome Agricultural Alliance!” the strip of material proclaimed, the aurabesh characters stitched out in bright green letters against an ivory background.
“I thought we decided to go with the blue,” Velco said, frowning as she looked at her datapad for the banner order request.
“Blue? No, you wanted green,” the creator of the banner, a Neimoidian who was well known for beautiful tapestries and draperies, scowled at Velko, evident displeasure radiating off him. “Controller Rodor Keen said green, for plants. Ergo, I give you a beautiful green banner.”
“Not all plants are green,” Velko muttered, but the banner was nicely constructed, stately and grand without being excessive. What did it matter that her meticulous plans had been changed by Rodor Keen once again? Sure, he might be the head of Republic operations responsible for Starlight Beacon, but couldn’t he at least let her handle the decorations without any interference? Ah well, at least it hadn’t been the Jedi Estala Maru this time.
“This is fine. What about the linens and such for the formal dinner?”
“All in order, my lady, all in order.” The Neimoidian gestured toward the bank of elevators. “I can go and finish the tapestries, yes?”
“Yes, yes, thank you.” Velko said, only half paying attention as he waddled away to see to other tasks. She still had a dozen other small things to check before the delegates arrived, but most important was the security for the event, and that would require a visit to the administrative hub.
For the next few days, the Galactic Agricultural Alliance would be holding their annual meeting on Starlight Beacon. After the destruction in the Hetzal system, and the resulting upheaval with the hyperspace lanes, the annual meeting was the first big event Starlight would host, second only to its original inauguration. It would also be the first meeting of the agricultural alliance that welcomed members from all over the galaxy, and not just the few that usually made the trip to Coruscant, where it was usually held. With people from the frontier concerned about safety through the galaxy, especially with the Republic Fair rapidly approaching, the pressure to ensure that the event went off without a hitch was enormous. Who would have thought so many people would be so thoroughly invested in keeping a bunch of scientists happy, Velko marveled? Not her, but on Thyrsus farming had been looked upon as an occupation undertaken only by those too cowardly to fight back. Over the past few days, however, Velko had been reminded that not every system found warfare more edifying than growing things, and now she was as determined as everyone to make certain that this event was a success. That began with excellent security.
Velko made her way to the security office, opting to take the maintenance stairs rather than the elevator. She’d been lax in her fitness lately, and it seemed a good way to also give herself a few moments alone to think. Too many now recognized her as the person on Starlight Beacon who got things done, or at least had a conduit to those who could, and she often found herself waylaid by someone wondering why there wasn’t a certain dish being served in the dining lounge, or why the lights dimmed at a certain time, and numerous other minor grievances along the way. Some days it was hard to get anything done, especially when everyone seemingly forgot that living together on Starlight Beacon meant catering to the needs of lots of different species.
But she was getting much better at handling the demands and explaining to exasperated Republic officials and visitors just why she could not accommodate certain special requests.
After the first couple of flights of stairs Velko’s thighs began to burn, and she started running, enjoying the feel of the muscles working in her legs. When she passed the doorway to the fifth floor, she found herself skidding to a stop as a brown-skinned human girl grunted under the weight of a giant pot of flowering vines.