A new era of STAR WARS storytelling begins. It is centuries before the SKYWALKER SAGA. The JEDI are at their height, protecting the galaxy as REPUBLIC pioneers push out into new territories. As the Frontier prepares for the dedication of majestic STARLIGHT BEACON, PADAWAN KEEVE TRENNIS faces the ultimate choice — will she complete her Jedi Trials or rescue the innocent from disaster? New Jedi! New ships! New evils to fight!
On Shuraden in the Galactic Frontier, Padawan Keeve Trennis moves through a forest, pestered by a small Ximpi named Kanrii. She is ambushed by a one-armed Trandoshan with a lightsaber, who turns out to be her Master, Sskeer. After a brief fight, Keeve wonders why they are even there: she thinks they should be preparing for her Jedi Trials, and that Sskeer should be resting since the injury that cost him his arm. In response, Sskeer reveals her Trials are the reason they have even come.
Sskeer takes Keeve to the Needles, an array of tall, thin stone spires. He tells her he has hung a Tythonian pendant at the top of one of the spires, and she is not to stop until she locates it. And the Needles are not easy to climb: as Sskeer points out, many have failed.
One of the pillars breaks while Keeve is making her way up it, and she saves herself by igniting her double-bladed lightsaber to brake herself. Kanrii, still hanging around, points out a nearby Ximpi city to her as the diminutive being's home, but fails to take Keeve's hint when she asks about Kanrii possibly preferring to be down there. Keeve is less than thrilled when Lekaki, a friend of Kanrii's, arrives. However, the trio is suddenly interrupted by an enormous swarm of flying insects, and Keeve is knocked off of the spire.
On the Starlight Beacon space station, Jedi Master Avar Kriss is astounded that Master Estala Maru does not know Sskeer's whereabouts, since Maru is usually the type to know everything. Maru explains that he's extremely busy since the station is only hours away from its dedication, but Avar sees straight through him, noting that it must be killing him that he doesn't know. Avar explains that she's worried about Sskeer since he hasn't been the same since the Battle of Kur. Maru wonders if the Trandoshan blames himself for Jora Malli's death, but Avar thinks otherwise, noting that she cannot hear Sskeer's song in the Force.
The two Masters are joined by Grand Masters Veter and Yoda – the latter of whom is unexpected given that he has been on sabbatical. Avar asks if Yoda is returning to the Jedi High Council, but he says he will be remaining on the Star Hopper for the time being. Veter says that they are here to discuss Avar's path, and she quickly states that she is not interested in a Council seat. But that is not what Veter is offering: the Grand Masters want Avar to be Starlight Beacon's new marshal.
On Shuraden, Lekaki is eaten by one of the giant insects. Despite Kanrii's plea, Keeve points out Lekaki is already gone and they have other problems: the swarm is endangering the city. Figuring that her trial is toast, Keeve jumps down and flies off in the Jedi Vector she and Sskeer took to Shuraden, as he shouts after her. Landing near the city, she thinks to herself that she almost sounds like she knows what she's doing as she reassures a panicking Kanrii. Keeve employs telekinesis to halt falling rocks while contacting the Beacon on her comlink. Maru, answering, asks if Sskeer is with her, but Keeve interrupts with news of the giant insects.
Maru is surprised to hear of giant insects on Shuraden, but quickly suggests they could be the ridadi, a species of star-locust which migrates through that area once a generation. However, they normally instinctively avoid inhabited planets, so clearly something has changed. Maru asks if Keeve has tried asking the locusts what is different. Connecting with the insects through the Force, Keeve senses their migrations, and discovers they are homing in on the Starlight Beacon.
Running for the Vector, Keeve asks Maru if they know anything about how exactly the ridadi navigate. Maru says that the records aren't clear, but some scholars believe they navigate through magnetic pulses emitted by a star in a nearby system. Keeve realizes that the Beacon is interfering with the ridadi's navigation, explaining to Kanrii that the Ximpi had earlier remarked about hearing the Jedi's signal from the station. The locusts' confusion is their fault, but Keeve notes it's possible to get them back on track.
The ridadi begin to follow Keeve in the Vector, to Kanrii's concern. She tells Maru she's rigged the starfighter to replicate the Beacon's signal so the ridadi will follow it away from Shuraden. Maru responds that he will recalibrate the Beacon to a different frequency. Setting the Vector on autopilot, Keeve bails herself and Kanrii out of the fighter, claiming to the Ximpi that they are easier to come by than the city.
Later, Keeve is helping rebuild the city when Sskeer catches up to her, asking where the Vector is. She says it's up in space somewhere, worried that he will be cross as he calls the beacon for new transportation. Kanrii asks if she's in trouble, and Keeve says she doesn't know, as she's never seen her Master like this.
Back at the Beacon, Keeve follows Sskeer as he disembarks their T-1 shuttle and heads into the station without a word, attempting to explain why she didn't complete her trial. A door opens to reveal Avar Kriss, giving Keeve a moment of hero-worship over what Avar did to save Hetzal during the Great Hyperspace Disaster. After Sskeer explains that Avar has also been named marshal, Keeve continues to apologize for failing to complete her trial, and Avar asks if she's done. Igniting her lightsaber, Avar performs a brief knighting ceremony, severing Keeve's Padawan braid.
Later, at the dedication ceremony, Keeve thinks about how intense it all is while Avar speaks to the crowd on the Beacon's status as a symbol of hope. Keeve realizes that Sskeer likely planned the whole thing, knowing that the ridadi would appear. As the assembled Jedi all ignite their lightsabers, Keeve realizes that the whole thing was a test, and she passed it.
Even later that night, Sskeer enters a dark room and screams in some kind of anguish. "NO! ...No."
The excerpt of the comic released in The High Republic Free Digital Sampler stated the Starlight Beacon was located in a region called the Starless Expanse. However, the published issue omitted the term.
Maru tells Avar Kriss that they are "nine hours" from the dedication of the Starlight Beacon when Kriss comes looking for Sskeer, who is currently on Shuraden. However, this contradicts the timeline of The High Republic: A Test of Courage, which shows Sskeer and Trennis as the first to respond to the emergency beacon set up by Vernestra Rwoh's stranded group on Wevo, while on their way back from Shuraden. Rwoh's group then travels to the Starlight Beacon aboard the Radiant Blessing, taking a bit under two days to get there, and is stated to have arrived on time for the dedication, which Rwoh and Imri Cantaros are shown to attend in The High Republic: Light of the Jedi.
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Notes and references
- The Star Wars Book dates the dedication of the Starlight Beacon, which appears in The High Republic 1, to 232 years before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Since Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates the events of that film to 0 BBY, The High Republic 1 must therefore take place in 232 BBY.
- The Clone Wars 1
- The High Republic Free Digital Sampler
- The High Republic: A Test of Courage
- The High Republic: Light of the Jedi