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The High Republic: Trail of Shadows 1 is the first issue of the comic book miniseries Star Wars: The High Republic: Trail of Shadows. The issue was written by Daniel José Older, illustrated by David Wachter and Giada Marchisio, and published by Marvel Comics on October 13, 2021.

Publisher's summary[]

JEDI KNIGHT AND PRIVATE EYE TEAM UP TO UNCOVER A MYSTERY THAT WILL CHANGE THE HIGH REPUBLIC FOREVER! A Jedi Master is dead. Another is in a state of complete shock. It's a murder the likes of which the Jedi Order has never seen before. There are no leads. There are no suspects. There is no motive. But Jedi Investigator EMERICK CAPHTOR must solve the case before it's too late. The fate of the Jedi, the Hutts, the Nihil and everyone in the galaxy, hangs by this tangled thread of lies and deceit. Emerick will need to dive into the darkness, testing himself and his Jedi ideals like never before. He'll need help. Luckily, Private Eye SIAN HOLT lives in the dark. Together, they'll follow this trail of shadows wherever it leads. If they can work together, that is.

Plot summary[]

As a haunting melody fills the air, the petrified corpse of Jedi Master Loden Greatstorm lies on the ground. Amidst the Battle of Grizal, Master Stellan Gios and Jedi Knight Indeera Stokes approach, while Greatstorm's Padawan, Bell Zettifar, lies curled up in agony nearby. Stellan reaches out and touches the body, only for it to crumble into dust. As Stellan and Indeera lead Bell away, another Jedi approaches in the rain. Emerick Caphtor kneels down and examines the pile of dust that is everything left of the Twi'lek Jedi, a frown on his face.

In Stellan's office in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, Emerick asks the recently-elevated Jedi High Council member why he keeps singing an old nursery rhyme. Stellan hadn't noticed he was doing so, and Emerick clarifies that the song he was singing was the one old Vidyarvrikt used to sing to them as younglings when they wouldn't sleep, speculating it was to terrify them into behaving. Remembering, Stellan asks Emerick if he'll take the assignment now that he's looked over the data. Emerick says that his analysis of the dust came back, and there was nothing identifiable as the remains of Loden Greatstorm, merely bio-matter and detritus, as well as a negative midi-chlorian test. Stellan knows what he saw, and insists that Indeera and Bell saw it as well.

Emerick understands, but says there's very little to go on regarding the cause of Loden's death: no footprints, tracks, holo-footage, or a conclusive cause. No one can agree on what "it" even looked like or if there was an it at all, and Bell is still having trouble making sense of what happened. Stellan tells Emerick that he doesn't know how else to put it, but he has never seen or felt anything like this in his life. Whatever happened on Grizal sent two Jedi to the shock ward and killed a third, and he is still having nightmares about it. As Emerick thinks that he's never seen Stellan like this, Stellan continues speaking, noting that one moment they had the Nihil on the run, the next Elzar Mann was nose-diving from the sky, Bell was in shock and Loden, well, that's what they're talking about now. Emerick notes to himself that as one of the youngest and newest Council members, Stellan has a lot on his plate.

Stating that Emerick is the Jedi Order's best investigator, Stellan says he knows his friend is unconvinced about what happened on Grizal and thinks his time is better spent picking through the wreckage of Valo. Stellan, however, thinks that if the Nihil have a weapon that can destroy Jedi like that, they need to know about it so it can be stopped. Emerick realizes that Stellan's attitude is more than stress: something has shaken one of the most unshakeable people Emerick knows. Stellan says that all he's asking is for Emerick to look into it, adding that his former Padawan Vernestra Rwoh and Master Kantam Sy found a Nihil base on Vrant Tarnum shortly before their attack, and the captured raiders stationed there spoke of it with a certain reverence which is hard to explain. Telling Emerick to take a team of troopers which is already at the barracks ready to leave, Stellan asks him to see what he can find. Emerick realizes that Stellan Gios' attitude is one of desperation.

On Level 1347 of the Coruscant Underworld, Vaba Blanks Midnight Den hums to the music of a live band. Sian Holt, one of the musicians, thinks to herself that this is why she can't trust anyone. Keefar Branto has been tangled up in every mess imaginable, from weapon smuggling to a brief stint with the Nihil. He's since cleaned up and turned his life around, claiming he wanted to do something good and right some of the wrongs he'd committed. Having been disowned by his family, Sian is one of the only people on Coruscant who has any amount of trust in Keefar, and that isn't much, but she needed a partner. But Keefar has business with Urk Panga tonight, and that means that either he's up to old habits, or he's working an angle for a case. And if it was a case, Sian would know about it. But that doesn't matter. As the bar cleans out, Sian says her farewells, pulling out a tracking device to tail Keefar. Finding that he's in the Steebark District with Urk, she realizes Keefar is in worse trouble than she thought. When Sian, blaster pistol drawn, arrives at the dark alleyway where the tracker tells her Keefar should be, she finds him and Urk with their own weapons drawn, and wonders what he's done as she takes cover.

In the upper levels of Coruscant, Emerick's droid Q-2 complains that he's doing it as well and wonders what it means. When Emerick asks for clarification, Q-2 states that he's singing the same song Stellan was, which they both have been muttering under their breath. Q-2 reminds Emerick that when investigating, he always says "In an investigation, everything is something and nothing is–" Finishing with "nothing", Emerick says he knows what he says, and he has to get ready for their mission. As Q-2 complains that the rhyme's "shrii ka rai ka rai" refrain doesn't appear to mean anything and doesn't have any matches in its translation databanks, Emerick thinks to himself that the droid is correct: even a creepy old rhyme surfacing in the memory of a witness means something to the investigation. He tells Q-2 that the untranslatable lyrics are nonsense, made up to rhyme with the rest of the song, although the droid doesn't understand. Emerick privately thinks that not everything is a clue that will help find the truth. Q-2 remarks that organics are weird, and Emerick explains that Stellan was reminded of the song because it's attached to the memory of a feeling that neither of them have felt since the nights they heard the song thirty-five years before: Fear.

In the Underworld, Keefar says he'll investigate the noise, telling Urk and a cloaked individual to stay out of sight. He is not happy to find Sian, but she retorts that she was also about to ask him what he was doing there. Keefar is incredulous when he finds Sian found him with a tracker, but she explains that the corporation in charge of his probation put it there, and they will hold her responsible if he messes up, since she was the only one who would vouch for him. Keefar pleads with Sian to leave immediately, saying he can explain later, but Sian cuts him off, stating that "messing up" includes associating with known criminals off the job, before discovering that the alley is empty and Urk Panga is gone. Swearing loudly, Keefar exclaims that he's been made and they need to run.

As a unit of Republic troopers gears up, Emerick speaks to Stellan by hologram, stating they'll be en route shortly. Thanking Emerick, Stellan says that he thinks he's figured out what about that song made him remember it now, asking if he remembers the rest of it. When Emerick says no, Stellan says it ended with the word "dust", which he finds odd, although he's not sure how the rest of it went.

Running through Level 1347, Keefar says that if Sian hadn't followed him, they wouldn't be in this mess. Sian retorts that she wouldn't have been following him if he hadn't been sneaking around with criminals and that she can do this all day, before demanding to know what he meant by "made" and if he has a side P.I. gig he didn't tell her about. Keefar says the situation is deeper than he can explain right now, but Sian snaps that he needs to listen. She is unexpectedly interrupted by Urk Panga, running up to her and Keefar with a shout to run. Keefar is surprised, but blaster fire from deeper in the alley puts an end to the Narquois' flight. A red-eyed Tarnab emerges from the shadows, carrying a pistol and a melee weapon crackling with energy, and Sian and Keefar run.

On Vrant Tarnum, the wreckage of a small starship lies near the Kharvashark Ruins as Emerick and his team approach in their own ships. He thinks that for most of the soldiers' lives, the Republic has been at peace, most of them probably volunteering after the Great Disaster, before ordering the team to stay tight and remember this is a fact-finding mission. But the past year has contained more death and brutality than the soldiers ever imagined was possible. Emerick knows the soldiers have heard the rumours about what happened on Grizal and how one of the greatest Jedi Masters of the generation was turned to dust, and orders the team not to use any bombs or artillery, and to keep casualties to a minimum if they meet resistance as they want prisoners. Landing his Jedi Vector, Emerick orders the team to put over by the city wall. Entering the city, they meet resistance, engaging in a firefight with Nihil remaining in the ruins.

On Coruscant, the Tarnab guns down Keefar, and Sian is knocked to the ground, losing her grip on her blaster. As the assailant's blade is raised, Sian manages to retrieve her pistol and fire a single shot. On Vrant Tarnum, when the skirmish is done, Emerick examines the bodies, realizing his team wasn't even up against a rearguard, but the Nihil who hadn't made it out of the camp in time. Typical for the pirates — the rest left when they saw Emerick's forces approaching, and the ones left behind were terrified, fighting ugly. Deactivating his lightsaber, he notes the fighting is now over, and he must let the Force guide him. Emerick approaches a cave in the ruins which Q-2 notes must have held some importance to the place, based on its location. Noting that it looks as though a piece of the cave was removed recently, Emerick thinks to himself that he was wrong: everything really is connected. On Coruscant, Sian passes out on the ground, while at the Kharvashark Ruins, Emerick asks Cue to scan the markings around the cave, as it looks like writing but he doesn't recognize the alphabet. Q-2 already has, and the droid reports that Emerick isn't going to like the answer. Thinking that he wasn't just wrong because it's the memory of a feeling, Emerick asks Cue what the writing says, and the droid responds that the first line reads "Shrii ka rai ka rai…" No, Emerick thinks, this is something much worse.

Continuity[]

Probation is misspelled as "pobation" during Sian and Keefar's conversation about the tracking device placed on him.

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