The ancient Besalisk ponders loss and hope in this short story.
For Dexter Jettster, there's a weight that comes with experience.
From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi arrives August 29, a celebration of 40 years of Episode VI, and the latest in a series of books featuring short stories told from the perspectives of supporting characters. StarWars.com is excited to present an excerpt from "The Veteran" by Adam Lance Garcia, which finds the usually jovial Dexter —friend of Obi-Wan Kenobi and proprietor of a popular Coruscant diner in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones — reflecting on what's been lost in the battle against the Empire. Even in the wake of victory.
Dexter Jettster thought of the boy he had met on Lenahra and all that the boy would never see. He thought of the warrior the boy had become and the war that had been lost.
The war Dexter Jettster had helped start.
A pirate holonet channel, the last bastion of a free press in the Imperial Center, was playing the destruction of the second Death Star on a loop, the shock wave blooming like a flower. Outside they were celebrating, a jubilant roar echoing through the chasms of Coruscant.
The Empire had fallen.
The Galactic Civil War was over.
Dex had heard this song before, played to a different tune but familiar all the same. He heard it when the Nihil had been defeated, when the Republic became the Empire, on countless worlds for countless reasons. The song of hope. Dex knew better; he had learned the hard way that hope was a hollow thing, promising everything and granting nothing. Hope was for the foolish, and tonight the fools were feasting.
Tomorrow, they would wake to empty stomachs.
Dex limped over to the holoprojector and switched off the feed. He had seen enough. Besalisks lived long lives, not as long as some beings, but long enough that Dex wondered if he had lived too long.
He still remembered the shape of the Kamino saberdart, the sharpness of its durasteel embedding prongs. The dried blood that covered its injector needle. He had been so proud, so eager to impress his young friend. He could never have known where it all would lead, that the Republic would fall, that the light of the Jedi would be extinguished, that billions would die. Dex bore the weight of every life lost, but none more so than the boy he had met on Lenahra.
Dex wasn’t sure whether the warrior had died on the front or during the Purge, though he prayed it was the former. He couldn’t bear the thought of his friend being gunned down by his own men. Dex could never forget how the Jedi Temple blazed in the night, how the smoke billowed days after the fires were quenched, how the air tasted of ash, and how soot covered his diner for weeks, no matter how frequently he and Wanda cleaned.
Nearly a thousand years of peace, reduced to dust.
“It’ll be fine, honey, you’ll see,” Wanda had said, reminding him that droids rarely saw beyond their programming.
She broke down three years later.
He lost the diner soon after.
Now, two decades later, his sensory whiskers bristled, the faint scent of smoke wafting through the vents of his cramped Level 2401 apartment. The air was never clean this far down, but Dex knew the smell of fire brought on by laser blasts and what it portended. He tilted his head and listened. Beyond the cries of celebration, he heard the faint echo of blaster rifles. He cursed under his breath. He told himself he should stay put, that it was safer and smarter to remain where he was; that he was tired, so very tired.
But Dex never listened to anyone, especially himself.
From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi arrives August 29 and is available for pre-order now.