- "Ventress had become one of the most interesting characters… we had all this material, we had all these designs… This is based on scripts we had written with George Lucas… I'm super excited about this book."
- ―Dave Filoni
Dark Disciple is a canon novel starring Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos, written by Christie Golden for release by Del Rey on July 7, 2015. The novel is part of The Clone Wars Legacy multimedia initiative, since it is based on an eight-part story arc that was scripted for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series, comprising the episodes "Lethal Alliance", "The Mission", "Conspirators", "Dark Disciple", "Saving Vos Part I", "Saving Vos Part II", "Traitor". and "The Path". The scripts were not produced as episodes prior to the show's cancellation. The novel includes a foreword by Katie Lucas, one of the writers for the original episodes, and skews toward adult readers. The book's audio edition is narrated by Marc Thompson.
The only way to bring down the Sith's most dangerous warrior may be to join forces with the dark side.
"Dooku continues his attacks. Stop him, we must," Yoda said solemnly....
Finally Mace spoke. "The question before us now is—who will strike the killing blow?"
In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. Despite the powers of the Jedi and the military prowess of their clone army, the sheer number of fatalities is taking a terrible toll. And when Dooku orders the massacre of a flotilla of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council feels it has no choice but to take drastic action: targeting the man responsible for so many war atrocities, Count Dooku himself.
But the ever-elusive Dooku is dangerous prey for even the most skilled hunter. So the Council makes the bold decision to bring both sides of the Force's power to bear—pairing brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous one-time Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served at Dooku's side still runs deep, Ventress's hatred for her former master runs deeper. She's more than willing to lend her copious talents as a bounty hunter—and assassin—to Vos's quest.
Together, Ventress and Vos are the best hope for eliminating Dooku—as long as the emerging feelings between them don't compromise their mission. But Ventress is determined to have her retribution and at last let go of her dark Sith past. Balancing the complicated emotions she feels for Vos with the fury of her warrior's spirit, she resolves to claim victory on all fronts—a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy . . . and her own doubt.
In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. And when he orders the massacre of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council can see no alternative but to take drastic action: targeting the Empire's most cold — blooded disciple for assassination. But Dooku is dangerous prey, so the Council decides to bring both sides of the Force to bear - teaming brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous ex-Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Through Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served Dooku still runs deep, Ventress's hatred for her former master runs deeper. Determined to have vengeance and let go of her Sith past, Ventress must balance her growing feelings for Vos with the fury of her warrior's spirit — and resolves to claim victory on all fronts. It is a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy . . . and her own doubt.
In a Republic ship fleeing Mahranee, a refugee, Ashu-Nyamal, runs away from her family, as she wants revenge on the Separatists. After evading a Clone trooper, she reaches the bridge where she sees Jedi General Chubor pleading to Count Dooku by hologram, to allow the refugees to escape. After revealing that he knows the conversation is being broadcast back to the Jedi Council, Dooku orders the ships destroyed. The Attack on Mahranee was witnessed by the Jedi Council. This pushes them to a morally questionable decision - as suggested by Master Mace Windu: assassinate Count Dooku and thus end the Clone Wars. Master Obi-Wan Kenobi suggests Quinlan Vos for the task, despite being against the decision.
Partnering with Asajj Ventress
Meanwhile Master Vos, disguised as "Tal," along with the Mahran Jedi Knight Akar-Deshu, foils a black-market operation in Otor's Hub run by the Koorivar merchant Sheb Valaad. While returning to Coruscant, they receive news of the Separatist attack on Mahranee and a message from Kenobi requesting that Vos attend a meeting with the Jedi Council. At the meeting, the Jedi Council briefs Quinlan about their plans to assassinate Count Dooku. Vos accepts the mission but insists that a companion accompany him. Master Yoda recommends the Nightsister and failed Sith apprentice Asajj Ventress as Vos's partner. In the end, Vos reluctantly agrees to the mission and promises to get in touch with Ventress.
Following the meeting, Vos travels down to Coruscant's level 1313 to inquire about Ventress's whereabouts. At a seedy bar, the undercover Jedi meets several bounty hunters who are acquainted with Ventress including the Trandoshan Bossk and the late Jango Fett's son Boba Fett. Fett reveals that Ventress took a job on the planet Pantora, chasing down a Volpai fugitive named Moregi. Using this information, Vos travels to Pantora where he stumbled upon Ventress' hunt. Due to Quinlan's arrival, Moregi managed to escape. After a tense reunion, Vos and Ventress joined forces to capture Moregi.
Later, Vos met up with Ventress in her starship, Banshee. There, the undercover Jedi posed as a wannabee bounty hunter who was interested in partnering up with Ventress. Believing that Vos had potential to become a bounty hunter despite his irritating behavior, Ventress reluctantly agreed to accept him as her partner. Vos spent the next two weeks aboard Ventress' Banshee training and conducting several hunts together, usually involving underworld contracts and outlaw targets. On one occasion, Vos saved Ventress' life by using the Force to knock the blaster out of a Weequay target's hand; allowing Ventress to finish him off permanently.
On their fifth hunt together, the two bounty hunters worked together to capture the estranged former first mate of the Blood Bone Order's captain Lassa Rhayme. Ventress managed to bait the fugitive using her feminine charms. As part of their payment, Rhayme gave them a bottle of Tevraki whiskey, which the two hunters enjoyed together. While drinking, Vos tried to prod Ventress with information about her training but she remained tight-lipped. The two hunters also began to develop feelings for each other. Later, while Ventress visited Coruscant's Level 1313 to make modifications to the Banshee, Vos took the opportunity too meet up with Kenobi to discuss the progress of their mission. Since Vos had established a rapport with Ventress, Kenobi urged his fellow Jedi to find a way to motivate her against Dooku.
While on Coruscant, Ventress accepted a job from the Pyke Syndicate, a powerful cartel of drug runners and spice dealers, that was based on the rocky planet Oba Diah. The Pyke Syndicate boss Marg Krim tasked the two bounty hunters with rescuing his wife Tezzka Krim, and their two children Laalee and Vram, who had been kidnapped by the rival Black Sun crime syndicate. Black Sun was holding his family prisoner at their fortress on the volcanic world of Mustafar. Traveling to Mustafar, they rented two lava fleas and visited a bar called The Last Resort. There, they accosted a Falleen Black Sun guard and forced him to divulge information about the Pyke hostages.
The two hunters managed to infiltrate the Black Sun fortress through an exposed balcony outcropping. They managed to rescue Krim's two children but were unable to find their mother. Pursued by the Black Sun sentries, the two hunters and the children escaped on their lava fleas through the lava flow. While Ventress with Laalee managed to jump onto their lava flea mount, a blaster bolt hit Quinlan's back; causing Vram to lose his grip and fall into the lava flow. However, the undercover Jedi used his Force powers to levitate the boy to safety. After returning to the Banshee, the two bounty hunters formulated a plan to rescue Tezzka while Ventress treated Vos' wounds.
Using his psychometric powers, Vos touched Laalee's locket and discovered that her mother Tezzka was still in the fortress and a prisoner of the Black Sun leader Ziton Moj himself. While Ventress entered the fortress disguised as a negotiator, Vos managed to free Tezzka from her cell. Following a struggle with Moj and his men, the two hunters managed to escape Mustafar on the Banshee with Krim's family. After returning to Oba Diah, Marg Krim rewarded Ventress with double the pay. As they departed the planet, the two hunters witnessed a Black Sun fleet exiting hyperspace to settle scores with the Pyke Syndicate. Unable to help the Pykes, Vos and Ventress had little choice but to flee into hyperspace.
Joining forces against Dooku
Burdened with the guilt of being unable to protect Krim's family, Quinlan Vos revealed that he was a Jedi to Asajj Ventress. However, Ventress was already aware of this fact since she had witnessed him using his Force powers to save himself and Vram during their earlier escapade on Mustafar. Vos also told Ventress that the Jedi Council had sent him to kill Count Dooku and also wanted him to enlist Ventress' support. Having come to respect Vos and seeing an opportunity to strike back against her former Master, Ventress agreed to help but warned Vos that assassinating the Separatist leader would not be possible without tapping into the dark side of the Force. Later, Vos informed Kenobi of this new development in their assassination plot. However, Kenobi cautioned his fellow Master to be wary of Ventress' manipulative nature. Still, Quinlan insisted that he could trust her for the moment.
To begin Vos' training in the dark side, Ventress took him to her adopted homeworld of Dathomir, a planet that was strong in the dark side. While in Ventress' company, Vos learned about her background including her enslavement, her apprenticeship to the stranded Jedi Knight Ky Narec, her subsequent apprenticeship and falling-out with Count Dooku, and the loss of her Nightsister comrades. During his discipleship, Vos developed a romantic relationship with Ventress but struggled to avoid fully embracing the dark side of the Force. In an effort to drive Vos closer to the dark side, Ventress claimed that Dooku had murdered his later Master Tholme; when in reality she had been the real culprit. Under the tutelage of Ventress, Vos underwent a rigorous training regime that was designed to expose him to Nightsisters culture while simultaneously boosting his strength, endurance, fighting spirit, and Force powers.
Later Ventress received word from one of her informants, the Gossam Sumdin, that Dooku was planning to visit Raxus, a planet in the Tion Hegemony. As part of his final trial, Vos had to kill The Sleeper, a near-extinct crustacean creature that inhabited a series of pools near the former Nightsisters village. Despite his initial hesitance, Vos managed to kill the Sleeper and passed the trial; completing his dark side training. After Vos failed to meet up at their pre-arranged Level 1313 bar, Kenobi met with Yoda to discuss his fear that something wrong had happened to Quinlan. Yoda assured Kenobi that Vos had undergone many undercover missions and knew what he was doing. He also opined that it was sometimes necessary for one to tread through a dark path in order to better appreciate the light side.
Meanwhile, Ventress and Vos travel to Raxus where they meet up with her informant Sumdin. Vos is horrified when Asajj kills Sumdin in order to prevent any secrets from leaking about their mission. The two hunters then make their way to a large public square when Count Dooku gives a patriotic speech to a large crowd. The Count is accompanied by the Separatist military commander General Grievous. After the speech, the two part company while attending a large public feast. Ventress takes the opportunity to sneak up on her estranged former master Dooku, who is mingling with the crowds. Unwilling to cause a public disturbance, she challenged Dooku to meet her on the overlook for a fair fight later that night. Dooku agreed and the two split up.
In secret however, Dooku secretly contacted General Grievous and instructed him to meet him on the overlook with reinforcements. Before Grievous can join the Count, Quinlan attacks him and overpowers Grievous and his battle droids. At the overlook, Ventress and Vos engage Dooku in a lightsaber duel. After Dooku managed to knock out Ventress by hurling her against a stone bench, Quinlan attacked the Sith Lord, who taunted him about his flirtation with the dark side. Following a fierce duel, Vos is defeated by Dooku, who incapacitates him with Force lightning. Grievous arrives with droid reinforcements to apprehend the intruders but Asajj managed to escape into the sewers. Meanwhile, Quinlan was taken prisoner by Dooku.
Rescuing Quinlan Vos
In Separatist captivity, Quinlan Vos was transported to Serenno. There, he was locked in a cell where he was tortured by Count Dooku, who also intended to complete Vos' journey to the dark side. Back in the Jedi Temple, Vos' Jedi colleagues became worried about his safety and feared that he had perished or strayed from the light side. Meanwhile, Asajj Ventress traveled to Chalmun's Cantina on Tatooine where she enlisted the support of several bounty hunters including Boba Fett, Bossk, Latts Razzi, C-21 Highsinger, and Embo for a mission to rescue Quinlan. Back on Serenno, Dooku managed to turn Vos against Ventress by revealing a hologram showing that she had murdered his late Master Tholme. Dooku's version of events was confirmed when Vos used his psychometric abilities to touch Tholme's lightsaber.
Shortly later, Asajj and her bounty hunter allies arrived on Serenno to rescue Quinlan Vos. As part of their plan, the bounty hunters staged a diversion by attacking Dooku's battle droids. Meanwhile, Ventress made her way into Dooku's palace where she encountered a vengeful Vos in his cell. Enraged at Ventress for lying about her role in his master's murder, Vos attacked the Nightsister with his lightsaber. Ventress tried to reason with her former disciple by telling him not to let the dark side dominate him and reminding him about their mission to kill Dooku. Unable to rescue Vos, Ventress was forced to retreat with her bounty hunter confederates. As they left, she caught a glimpse of Vos walking with Dooku, showing that he had become Dooku's newest Sith apprentice.
Distraught, Ventress traveled back to Coruscant where she informed Kenobi about Quinlan's fall to the dark side. For the next few months, Asajj pined her time taking on various bounty hunting jobs. Struggling to cope with Quinlan's rejection, Ventress turned to alcohol. Meanwhile, Vos became Dooku's new right-hand man in the Separatist hierarchy and gained the nickname "Admiral Enigma." At some point, Asajj was contacted by Quinlan's Jedi comrade Desh, who had been dispatched by Kenobi to bring her to a Jedi Council meeting to discuss the matter of rescuing Vos from the Separatists.
The Jedi Council had obtained intelligence that "Admiral Enigma" was last sighted on a Providence-class dreadnought. In return for recovering Quinlan, the Jedi offered to pardon her for her crimes against them and the Republic. The inclusion of Asajj was controversial among some of the Jedi, particularly Windu and Skywalker. However, Kenobi and Yoda stood up for her. Ventress agreed to the deal and took part in the rescue mission. Following a struggle with Dooku and his battle droids, Ventress and the Jedi rescue team managed to free Vos from his cell in the brig. Ventress found an emaciated and half-naked Vos hanging from a set of shackles.
While Vos' Jedi companions were relieved to rescue their comrade, Asajj had seen Vos' eyes flash with fury and realized that he had fully embraced the dark side. Ventress attempted to attack her former lover but was restrained by Kenobi. After freeing Vos, Ventress and the Jedi escaped the Separatist dreadnought aboard her starship Banshee. After returning to the Jedi Temple, Ventress was formally pardoned of her crimes by Yoda. However, this news was bittersweet for Asajj since none of the Jedi believed that Vos had changed sides with the Separatists. Vos attempted to reconcile with Ventress but she rebuffed him.
Meanwhile, Skywalker discussed his suspicions about Ventress with his secret wife Padmé Amidala. Still suspicious of the former Dark Sider, he suggested that Ventress had seduced Vos to the dark side and expressed skepticism that she was capable of showing love.
Enemy in the Ranks
While Quinlan Vos' Jedi comrades debate in private whether he has succumbed to the dark side, Vos and his Jedi comrades take part in a mission to steal medication, weapons, foodstuffs, and ship-repair parts from a Separatist asteroid base. For this mission, Vos is accompanied by his friend Akar-Deshu, Kenobi, Skywalker, and the Clone Commander Cody. However, the Separatists had already booby-trapped the asteroid with explosives. Vos and his Jedi and Republic comrades managed to escape but all the supplies are destroyed. Following the failed mission, Vos meets up with Asajj Ventress in a Coruscant bar where he affirms his love for her and forgives her for killing Master Tholme. He promises to formalize his relationship with her after helping the Jedi to destroy Count Dooku.
Later, Quinlan takes part in a mission with Kenobi, Skywalker, and Cody to destroy a Separatist listening post. However, upon arriving there, they discover that the station had already been abandoned. Meanwhile, Desh visited the site of the former Separatist asteroid base and discovered evidence that there was a traitor within the Jedi ranks leaking information to the Separatists. Suspecting that these two incidents are no coincidence, Yoda arranged for a private meeting with Vos and was able to sense that he had indeed fallen to the dark side. Yoda discusses his findings with his fellow members of the Jedi Council, who hatch a plan to test Vos' allegiance by sending him on a mission to kill Count Dooku. Kenobi is instructed to watch over Vos and execute him if his true loyalties are revealed.
After receiving his assignment, Vos informs Ventress about his new mission to kill Count Dooku. After some arguing, Vos agrees to allow Ventress to accompany him. At the Jedi Council briefing, the Council agreed to allow Ventress to accompany Vos on his mission after she revealed that Dooku would be traveling to Christophsis on a Separatist dreadnought. Together, Vos and Ventress travel on the Banshee to Christophsis where they discovered Dooku's dreadnought among the Separatist fleet. Meanwhile, Skywalker and Kenobi tail Vos from a captured Separatist shuttle and managed to infiltrate Dooku's dreadnought. After boarding the dreadnought with the help of reprogrammed battle droids, the two Jedi witness Vos engaging Dooku in a lightsaber duel.
However, Vos fails to kill the Count and instead forces Dooku to lead him to his mysterious master, Darth Sidious. Realizing that their suspicions about Vos' loyalties have been confirmed, Skywalker and Kenobi have little choice but to arrest Vos and Dooku. After capturing the two Dark Siders, Kenobi and Skywalker bring their prisoners to the Venator-class Star Destroyer Vigilance. Despite Commander Cody's best efforts to secure the prisoners, Vos tricks Desh into approaching him and steals his lightsaber. He then uses it to free himself and Dooku. During their escape, Vos killed his former friend Desh and the Chagrian Jedi Knight Kav Bayons. Vos and Dooku then escaped with Ventress aboard the Banshee.
Showdown on Christophsis
Ventress attempted to land the Banshee on Dooku's dreadnought but the Vigilance gives chase and succeeds in damaging the ship. As a result, Ventress is forced to crash-land the Banshee on Christophsis. Kenobi, Skywalker, and several Clone troops probe the wreckage of the Banshee and deduced that the fugitives have survived. Meanwhile Ventress, Vos, and the seriously wounded Dooku navigate across the crystal-covered landscape of Christophsis to reach a nearby Separatist base. Kenobi secretly contacts Ventress and informs the former Nightsister about Vos' fall. He also instructs her to convince Quinlan to surrender or they will kill him. When Ventress confronts Vos about this revelation, he convinced her that he is close to completing his mission but does not disclose its goal. Meanwhile, Windu orders Kenobi and Skywalker to execute the fugitives.
Ventress, Vos, and Dooku finally arrive at the Separatist base built into a giant crystal pillar. There, they receive word that Darth Sidious wants to talk with his apprentice Dooku. During the brief hologram conversation, Dooku pleaded with his master to send a ship to Christophsis to evacuate him. However, Vos fails to learn about Darth Sidious' true identity. Shortly later, the Separatist base is bombarded by Republic Clone troopers and Aggressive ReConnaissance-170 starfighters. Despite Windu's orders, Kenobi still insists on getting the fugitives out unharmed. Despite Anakin's objections, the former Master and apprentice venture into the Separatist base to find Vos and Dooku.
During the Republic bombardment, Ventress is badly wounded by the artillery fire and falling debris. Vos helps his wounded lover up as they attempt to follow Dooku and complete his mission. Meanwhile, Anakin and Kenobi order a ceasefire in order to sneak into the fortress and kill Dooku. Back in the fortress, Ventress confronted Quinlan about his fall to the dark side and alignment with Dooku. After some hesitance, Vos confessed that this was true. Shortly later, Dooku attacks Vos with Force lightning. However, in a selfless act of sacrifice, Asajj shoved Vos away and took the full force of Dooku's attack. Dooku then attempts to goad Quinlan into killing him but Vos refuses to give into the dark side and affirms that he is Jedi. While Vos reconciles with Ventress in her final moments, Dooku takes the opportunity to escape.
Following the events on Christophsis, Quinlan Vos surrendered to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, who brought him back to Coruscant. There, in the presence of the Jedi Council, Vos confessed that he had embraced the dark side and joined Count Dooku in order to use Dooku to get to Darth Sidious, and thus eliminate the two Sith Lords once and for all. He accepted responsibility for all the crimes and damage he had committed under Dooku's service and for killing his two Jedi comrades Desh and Bayons and the clone troopers aboard the Vigilance. Vos also defended the late Asajj Ventress for bringing him back to the light and giving her life to save him from Dooku.
During the hearing, Kenobi spoke out that it was folly for the Jedi Council to have considered using the tactic of assassination to eliminate Count Dooku since it only led one close to the dark side. He also defended Ventress as a "friend" of the Jedi. Following the proceedings, Vos was pardoned for his crime against the Jedi and the Republic. Kenobi also accompanied Vos to Dathomir to bury Ventress. Together, the two Jedi laid the Nightsister to rest in a dark pool near the abandoned Nightsisters' village. As Ventress' body entered the waters, the pool turned green.
- "We were particularly interested because [the unproduced episodes] center on Asajj Ventress, who to me is extraordinarily interesting as a character, because she's one of the few who aren't just light or dark, but straddle both. It's an interesting balance to explore: how can you use the dark side but not be completely, truly dark? What's the difference between being an actual Sith and utilizing the dark side of the Force when you need it? How did she become what she became after her training by Dooku? That makes her really, really interesting."
- ―Shelly Shapiro
The novel was first announced on July 25, 2014 at San Diego Comic-Con, in Del Rey's Star Wars panel that prominently featured the novel A New Dawn. The author was announced as Christie Golden, who adapted scripts that were written in conjunction with Series Producer George Lucas, for what would have been the seventh season of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series prior to its cancellation. According to Jennifer Heddle, the novel skewed toward adult audiences, with Pablo Hidalgo noting that the novel could explore the characters in deeper ways than the television series was able to. The first illustration for the novel was developed as conceptual art for the animated series.
On September 25, 2014, StarWars.com launched a new section dedicated to what was termed The Clone Wars Legacy, a multimedia project to release other unproduced The Clone Wars scripts in various media. The site revealed the title of Golden's novel as Dark Disciple—named for one of the adapted episodes—and also contained a gallery featuring concept art from the episodes. Although the gallery listed the story as being a four-part arc, Del Rey editor Shelly Shapiro later stated that the novel was based on eight episodes in total. Golden reaffirmed the number via Twitter, stating that the eight episodes had constituted a single, lengthy story arc.
The episodes were titled "Lethal Alliance," "The Mission," "Conspirators," "Dark Disciple," "Saving Vos Part I," "Saving Vos Part II," "Traitor," and "The Path." The episodes were written by Katie Lucas, Head Writer Matt Michnovetz, and Series Supervising Director Dave Filoni. Golden received animatics for the first four episodes and the scripts for all eight of them.
Del Rey editor Erich Schoeneweiss was the first to announce a July 2015 release for the novel. Amazon.com listed the novel's release date as July 7, while the British release date was July 9. StarWars.com unveiled Matt Taylor's cover art for the novel on December 9, 2014. On January 16, 2015, Golden reported that she had finished the novel and passed it on to her editor, and was finishing the second draft as of February 24. In an interview released on March 11, Shelly Shapiro revealed she had just finished working on the novel. The novel included a foreword by Katie Lucas, one of the writers for the original episodes. Golden also wrote a prequel short story entitled "Kindred Spirits," which was published in Star Wars Insider 159, and later included in the paperback release of Dark Disciple.
- ISBN 9780345511539; Del Rey, July 7, 2015, 336-page hardcover
- ASIN B00ZAUXCXW; Random House Audio, July 7, 2015, 11 hour, 12 minute audio edition
- ISBN 9781780893744; Century, July 9, 2015, 320-page hardcover
- ISBN 9780099580133; Cornerstone, March 31, 2016, 400-page paperback
- ISBN 9780606385183; Turtleback Books, March 1, 2016, 384-page library binding
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Notes and references