A dark side warrior and rebel whose experiences were not so different.
Star Wars Echoes examines the lives of two characters -- seemingly very different on the surface -- and how they’re often more similar than we might think.
Throughout the mythology of the Star Wars universes, synchronicity can be seen again and again, binding heroes, villains, creatures and legend to one another despite their paths never crossing even once. For example, two women equally fated for twists and turns on their individual pathways through the galaxy. One, torn from her family and schooled in the Jedi arts, subverted to the will of the dark side before seeking -- and finding -- atonement. The other trained from birth by her warrior clan, briefly joining the Empire before turning her back in disgust. An assassin turned apprentice turned bounty hunter, then Nightsister. An artist turned Imperial cadet turned warrior, then rebel. Hailing from two clans as far apart as they come, search your feelings as we chart the fierce, elegant similarities in the stories of Sabine Wren a.k.a. Spectre-5, Mandalorian liberator, and former dark apprentice Asajj Ventress, turned toward the light by embracing her roots in order to get revenge on those who spurned her.
Both were born to loyal, tight-knit familial clans…and then sent away.
Beneath an impressively-carved fortress on the planet Dathomir lived the witch-coven known as the Nightsisters. Hunting alongside one another, led by Mother Talzin, the Nightsisters harnessed the power of the dark side and were content to remain separated from the conflict tearing through the galaxy, keeping to themselves and their arcane ways. The sisters raised young Asajj to be one of their own until the day they were forced to surrender the girl to the pirate Hal’Sted in order to protect the clan. After years of hardship, training and suffering, Ventress returned to Dathomir and the Nightsisters, hoping to rally her clan against Count Dooku and the Sith. Unfortunately, their betrayal earned the coven Dooku’s enmity; he ordered his droid army to wipe out the lot of them. On another planet touched by the horrors of the Clone Wars, Sabine Wren was born to a completely different clan -- Clan Wren of House Vizsla. Also trained from an early age, she became an adept warrior and joined the Imperial Academy. When her weapons skills were used by the Empire against Mandalore and her clan, Sabine -- guilty, horrified -- spoke out against the Empire and was cast out by her parents and brother. No stranger to hardship and training herself, like Ventress, Sabine eventually returned to her homeworld again. This time alongside a new, tight-knit family with whom she liberated the planet from an oppressive Viceroy and delivered it back into her the hands of her clan.
Their experiences with the Empire and the dark side sent them back into the welcome arms of their respective clans…as well as those who opposed the dark side.
One-time apprentice to Count Dooku -- a.k.a. Darth Tyranus -- Asajj Ventress opened herself to the siren call of the dark side, more than ready to drink in its secrets and power. Her being, her entire life had been dedicated to its dark energies…first as a Nightsister, then as a would-be Sith. When Dooku betrayed Ventress, the former assassin found herself reeling, nowhere to turn other than to the witches of Dathomir who healed her body, nurtured her mind, and re-focused Ventress’s allegiance back into the power of the clan. Eventually, Asajj would come out in open rebellion against Dooku, his Sith master and the Separatists, leading her on a journey toward those with whom she’d never before considered an alliance: Jedi. Sabine Wren’s life, by comparison, had always been an open rebellion. First against those who’d used her weapons against her family. Then the Empire, alongside a cell of hopeful heroes that grew to a full-blown strategic alliance. Sabine, too, felt the dark side’s siren call -- on a mission to save Ezra from Maul’s clutches, Sabine recovered the lost Darksaber on Dathomir and found herself possessed by the spirits of the Nightsisters. Eventually exorcised, she reluctantly carried and trained with the Darksaber, a cruel reminder of her estrangement from Clan Wren. This period would lead to Sabine joining Kanan, Fenn Rau, and the others to helping bring her mother, brother, and clan into peaceful relations with the Rebel Alliance, if not recruiting them outright after freeing them from Gar Saxon.
Bounty hunters? We don’t need their scum…but for a time, these women absolutely did.
Following her exile from Mandalore, Sabine connected with her longtime friend Ketsu Onyo, with whom she’d escaped the Imperial Academy. The duo established a bounty hunting partnership, flirting with recruitment into the Black Sun syndicate. Eventually the two friends parted after a tense situation (reuniting years later, after Sabine was firmly involved with the Rebel Alliance), but for a brief time Sabine could see a life as an intergalactically-known bounty hunter before finding a home on the Ghost. Years earlier, Asajj Ventress found herself alone, as well -- her clan had been exterminated by Dooku’s forces, and a sense of purpose eluded the former-Sith apprentice. She turned to bounty hunting to make ends meet, first joining up with Boba Fett’s Syndicate as “No Name” (she betrayed them for the right reasons, an inkling of justice and goodness perhaps sneaking into her heart) and then striking out on her own to some measure of success. Along the way, Ventress entertained odd moments of partnership with those she felt she could trust, including members of the aforementioned Syndicate…and eventually a Jedi disguised as bounty hunter with whom she would fall in love.
At specific points in their lives, both Asajj and Sabine partnered for a desperate cause with Ahsoka Tano.
Accused of murder by the Jedi Order, Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano was on the run and seeking refuge among the galactic underworld. A one-time Padawan herself, newly minted bounty hunter Asajj Ventress managed to hunt down Tano and planned to bring her in for a reward. Ahsoka instead negotiated a deal with Ventress to help prove her innocence to the Jedi Council -- in turn, Ahsoka promised to acquire a pardon for the former Sith assassin. Though Ventress managed to help the falsely accused Padawan in her journey toward redemption, both Ahsoka and Asajj were ambushed by the actual killer -- the traitorous Mirialan, Barriss Offee. Years after the Clone Wars, an older Ahsoka was revealed to be the mysterious “Fulcrum,” a secret operative coordinating messages across rebel cells, including the one in which Sabine Wren thrived alongside the crew of the Ghost. Sabine and Ahsoka partnered on several missions but perhaps their greatest is yet ahead of them: to search the galaxy together and find their lost friend, Jedi Ezra Bridger.
Their respective emotional connections to a Jedi broke -- and then resolved -- their heart.
Though often presenting a tough exterior, Sabine’s time with the Spectres and Rebel Alliance revealed strong emotional attachments to various individuals throughout her journey. Ketsu, her family, Hera, and more. And of course, a complicated mentor-student, sister-brother relationship with Ezra Bridger. During the final days of the Empire’s control of Lothal, Sabine and Ezra formed a closer bond than ever before, as they worked together following the death of Kanan Jarrus to save the Jedi Temple and liberate the planet. Ezra’s sacrifice and disappearance at the end of that battle inspired the remaining, heartbroken Spectres to stay and protect his home planet…as it also led Sabine to her eventual resolution to partner with Ahsoka following the Battle of Endor to find and rescue Ezra. Years before, near the end of the Clone Wars, Asajj Ventress’s cold, hardened heart found itself thawed by an unexpected partnership and romantic connection to Jedi Master Quinlan Vos, working undercover in an attempt to partner with Ventress to assassinate Count Dooku. Having long ago resolved to work alone and eschew all partners or lovers, Ventress was surprised to find her guard relaxed in Vos’s presence, amused by his charm and impressed by his skills…to disastrous results. As happened with most of her close relationships, Ventress found her heart betrayed by Vos after he was captured and turned to the dark side by Dooku himself. Prepared to write him off and return to a solitary, heartbroken, emotionless lifestyle, Ventress was convinced by Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Jedi Order to rescue the lost Jedi. Reluctant and wary, Ventress resolved to try. Unlike Sabine though, whose fierce determination to fight for those seeking justice now directs her path toward saving someone dear to her, hoping above all else to bring him home…Ventress’s steps to save the man she loved cost her everything. And though both women's last known missions had completely different intentions and motives, beneath it all were two fierce individualists whose lives had taken them down winding, twisting roads to the same, selfless destination of rebellion, rescue, and redemption.
Neil Kleid is a writer and designer who truly belongs among the clouds. He digs Star Wars, comix, mobile design, BBQ, and baseball. Talk to him about design and Lobot on Twitter at @neilkleid.