(Don’t worry. His trusty droid is coming, too.)
Star Wars: Ronin: A Visions Novel by Emma Mieko Candon arrives October 12, expanding the world of “The Duel” and our favorite new nameless former Sith and his loyal, straw hat-wearing droid companion. Much like the short that inspired it, Ronin exists in a reimagined Star Wars galaxy — one that pulls in great inspiration and influence from Japanese culture and storytelling. In the below excerpt, the Ronin and his droid journey on Genbara, out of credits and eager to reach their destination. But sometimes, fate and the Force have other plans…
Read this sneak peek then head over to RandomHouse.com and check out the first five chapters of Ronin. For more on the book, be sure to read StarWars.com’s interview with Lucasfilm’s James Waugh and Candon.
At the far edge of the galaxy, a lone wanderer roams the Outer Rim. In defiance of Imperial edict, the RONIN dares to wear a certain blade on his sash. None know his name, nor what he seeks—only that death and disaster follow in his footsteps. No doubt the gods themselves have cursed his forgotten name. . . .
Two months after the Ronin arrived on the Outer Rim world of Genbara, he ran out of credits. This concerned him less than it did B5-56, who took every opportunity to scold.
“Look at it this way,” he told his trundling companion. “No need to worry about where we’ll sleep.”
A man with no coin had no reason to pace his trek in terms of outposts and inns. He could pay for no bed. Thus, he could wander to his heart’s content, and the woodland vistas of Genbara did reward the wandering. Vast stretches of pine were interrupted only by patches of farmland, claimed by settlers rebuilding their lives far from the scars war had left on worlds nearer the galaxy’s Core.
The Ronin slept that night under a small lean-to that a local woodcutter had told him of the day before, when he passed the old man’s hut on his way into the mountains.
“The mountains, sir? Are you sure?” the woodcutter had said as he sucked his teeth. They sat on the veranda of the man’s hut and shared a pot of stale tea. It had been the last in the Ronin’s tin, but he offered it freely in exchange for hot water and company. “You’ll want to follow this road up, past the ridge. It will take you to a village in the valley. If it’s still there.”
An ominous thing to say. To the Ronin, it suggested he was on the right course. B5 saw the look in his eye. The droid’s own eye flashed from red to blue under his thatched hat as he murmured a warning.
The woodcutter, who had no facility with Binary, mistook the dome-headed astromech’s sound for nervousness. He grinned. “There were four villages up there, little droid, when I first built my humble hut. Then there were three, then two—now just the one. Word is they angered a spirit. A spirit that doesn’t take kindly to settlers.”
Yet he thinks the spirits don’t mind him? said a voice in the Ronin’s ear.
“Mountains are different,” the Ronin said.
The woodcutter, who thought he had been spoken to, nodded sagely. B5 swiveled a baleful eye to fix on the Ronin in what was likely supposed to be a glare. The Ronin pretended not to notice it, but he did remind himself to be careful. On occasion, when in the company of others, his responses to the voice were dismissed. On other occasions, they were not, and this could go quite badly. If the village in the mountains still stood, he would be among new people soon, and they sounded like a superstitious lot.
The following morning, he stretched the cold out of his limbs as he rose and ate half a ration-stick from his pouch, the last remaining. The chewing was slow going, with the ache; he rubbed at the line of old metal that supported his jaw from ear to ear.
B5 grumbled at him all the while, calling him old and simple besides. Surely, the droid said, his master remembered that he had the means to acquire enough credits to fund his fool journey until it killed him—or at least enough to purchase a more up-to-date prosthetic. Yet he hoarded his bounty to the point that some shamefully mundane evil would doubtless get him first. Perhaps the chill, or infection, or worse.
“You know I would be more foolish to try to sell one of these,” said the Ronin, patting the treasures hidden in the folds of his robes. “Where would I say I got it?”
Then what do you plan to do with your winnings, other than collect them? the voice asked, rather bitterly at that.
He couldn’t give her an answer. Not one she could stand.
Moved by a reflexive guilt, he glanced at the inner lining of the long hooded vest he wore as a cloak. The robe had weighed the same for at least a year now, when he had last added to the collection within. The crystals sewn into the seam glinted as if in greeting, letting off red flickers that illuminated his fingers, elated by the promise of his attention. They wanted him to touch them, to take them and give them use.
He let the robe fall closed, crystals untouched. Here was his reason, even if she didn’t care for it: So long as he carried them, they could bring no further harm.
Outside of what harm you commit, she said.
“If you wish me dead,” he said as he stepped out onto the needlestrewn path between the pines, “you have only to point the way.”
Go on to your little village, then.
Experience told him that she would provide no further advice. After all, she would doubtless prefer that whatever he met in the village be the end of him rather than the other way around.
The chill of the night bled into spring as the sun rose. The Ronin stopped on the ridge overlooking the last village left in the mountains, B5-56 at his side. In the distance, at the far end of a pine-ridden valley, the swooping lines of a crashed ship gleamed whitely. Some sleek, gallant vessel that had met its ignoble end face-first in the sloping mountainside. Its silver hull shone like a star under the fierce morning light.
Poetic, wouldn’t you say? said the voice.
“I would say it’s broken,” said the Ronin.
B5 whined, disappointed.
“Doing what again? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
B5 sighed as magnificently as Binary allowed.
Together, they set off down the path to the last village in the mountains. Somewhere within it, they would find the Ronin’s quarry—or they would find nothing. A cowardly part of him hoped for the latter. Perhaps it was this part that made him slow as they reached the last rise before the village proper, where a teahouse stood beside an ancient bending pine. A troubling odor wafted out of the structure into the road, and despite B5’s scold—didn’t they have somewhere to be?—the Ronin let it lure him to the door. He found the shopkeep—a tidy Sullustan fellow whose rounded cheeks had grayed with age—seated on the clean-swept floor, fiddling with a rectangular power droid’s wiring and bemoaning its temperamental nature.
The Ronin’s shadow startled the shopkeep, who scrambled upright to study the stranger. His wary black eyes flicked up to take in the Ronin’s intimidating height, draped in road-stained garb, and down to the two scabbards hung conspicuously at his waist.
Star Wars: Ronin: A Visions Novel arrives October 12 and is available for pre-order now.
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