has an excerpt from John Jackson Miller‘s upcoming book Star Wars: The Living Force. The upcoming novel set prior to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, finds the Jedi Order at a crossroads. In this excerpt, the Jedi and its members debate a challenge from Qui-Gon Jinn — one that will light a spark and send the Council off to the planet Kwenn, the site of an ancient Jedi outpost from the High Republic era. 

After being challenged by Qui-Gonn Jinn about the state of the Jedi Order’s presence in the galaxy, the Jedi Council deliberates on their future, by looking to their past.

“I thank all of you.” Qui-Gon bowed. He started to turn to leave the Council Chamber—only to gesture with his hands. “Help one person. A Jedi needs no permission for that.”

“It seems we have been given a challenge,” Mace said with no little amusement after the doors closed behind Qui-Gon. “I can’t imagine how improving lives never occurred to us.”

Light laughter followed—but not from everyone. “We all respect Master Qui-Gon,” Ki-Adi-Mundi said. “But we have heard this before from him, many times.” He crossed his arms. “The Jedi Order serves society—but it is not a government agency.”

Yoda looked up from his contemplation. “Not of the Order does Qui-Gon speak. He means individual Jedi.”

Ki-Adi-Mundi nodded deferentially. “It is true—stories of Jedi who are isolated from the Order have always fascinated him. And his master, too, if I recall. They show what good could be done without our cares of state. But members of the Jedi Council are capable of considering the galactic and the local. Indeed, it is our job.”

Saesee shrugged. “This is classic Qui-Gon. Nothing new.”

“I disagree,” Mace said, pausing a moment as he mused. “This was different. We are different.”

The others stared at him in surprise. Depa looked at him searchingly. “Go on, Master.”

Mace looked around. “You all know I protect the traditions of the Order. There is wisdom in them. And yet even I can see it: We rarely act as individuals. Our responsibilities mount—but this body remains the same size. Members of the Council are bound to Coruscant more than ever before.” He gestured to the holographic figures. “Just three of us are away—and only Master Billaba is undertaking investigative work.”

“And I have spent three hours in hiding attending this meeting,” Depa said. “And forgive me—but only now, near the end, have we come to the productive part.”

“A part that was never on the agenda,” Yaddle said. She looked to the center of the room. “Qui-Gon sees our condition clearly. But I am not sure what to prescribe.”

Adi Gallia raised her datapad and spoke with hesitation. “I’m reluc­tant to bring matters back to business, but the chancellor’s office pro­vided us this year’s final list of suggestions regarding Jedi assets.”

Piell snorted. “Final as a politician’s promise.”

Mace waved his hand. All the members had a good understanding of the nature of the Senate, and a healthy skepticism. He quite agreed with Piell. But calling attention to that served no purpose at the moment. “Continue, Master Gallia.”

“We covered the locations where the Senate expects growth,” Adi said, “where its requests for Jedi aid are likely to expand. As usual when that happens, we compile a list of outposts that Jedi no longer frequent, either for research or for other activities, to balance the need.”

“Our study has been completed?” Mace asked.

“Just now.” She read as information scrolled across her datapad screen. “Janaus. Lesser Tontakoh. Barayfe.”

Yarael chortled. “Does anyone live in those places?”

Adi paused, and her eyes widened.

“What is it?” Mace asked.

She looked up. “Kwenn.

Stunned silence.

Oppo was the first to break it with a half-whispered “No.

His shock was shared by Council members young and old. “That one’s been open for nearly two hundred years,” Piell said.

“Almost exactly,” Eeth responded. “This would have been the bicen­tennial of its founding.”

“Present, several of us were,” Yoda said. “A symbol, at the edge of Hutt space.”

Plo nodded. “A grand gesture. It showed there was no place we would not go.”

“And it crowned what was yet another great achievement, on the planet itself,” Yaddle said. “A monumental work that this Order—including one of us here—had much to do with.”

Her eyes turned to Oppo—as did those of several others who knew his role. But the holographic figure appeared lost in thought. “Many were involved,” he finally said, before looking away.

Even the more taciturn members seemed affected by the news. “I first visited Kwenn as a Padawan,” Saesee recalled.

“We have all visited,” Ki-Adi-Mundi added. “Some, many times.”

Yarael seemed thunderstruck. “I loved the repertory theater there.”

Mace couldn’t argue with the others’ concerns, but he also couldn’t help but notice something. “Our experiences there are many. But how recent are any of them?”

“Not very,” Adi said after consulting the study. “The surrounding sys­tems haven’t had active relic excavations in years, and our missions in the area have declined just as trade has. And leaving facilities in unsta­ble regions unattended for too long puts the materials inside them at risk.”

Mace nodded. “That’s why we closed Tharben and Keldooine—and just now, Ord Jannak. Those I understood. But has Kwenn changed so?”

Adi tilted her head. “Between pirates and taxes, the Ootmian route is out of favor. Traffic at the Kwenn Space Station is down; I suspect the same for the planet below. Corporations leave, then the people. That’s what Master Qui-Gon saw.”

Piell raised a holographic finger. “You missed a step. We leave. Then the people leave.” The eye-patch-wearing Lannik spoke about his recent experiences. “Qui-Gon’s not the only one who’s witnessed it. I’ve seen people flocking toward the Core on that route the whole time I’ve been on Yitabo.”

Mace was going to ask Depa for her observations when he noticed his onetime student looking behind her. “Is something wrong, Master Billaba?”

“I may be called away here at any minute,” Depa said, speaking quickly. “But I fear the closure of the Kwenn outpost may embolden the criminal element there. It happened when we closed the site at Keldooine—and I am seeing the result now.” A beep sounded from her location. “I must go.”

“May the Force be with you,” Mace said, but her image disappeared before he finished the sentence.

Eeth took a breath. “If we close the Kwenn outpost—”

“That has not been decided,” Oppo interjected.

“Of course,” Eeth corrected himself. “I simply meant to say that if we agree with the study suggesting closure, it would affect one who is not a Jedi: the caretaker.”

Several reacted with recognition, including Yarael. “Ah, the sene­schal. I haven’t seen him in years.” He looked to Adi. “Wait. The site isn’t unattended!”

“True,” she said, “but our report finds he is nearly incapable of con­tinuing his duties. And no suitable alternative is likely to be found. It is a solitary existence.”

“Voh has been there most of his life,” Yoda said. “Hard news, this would be.”

Oppo nodded. “If anyone deserves to learn of it directly, it is Sene­schal Voh.”

Yaddle looked to the space vacated by Depa’s image. “So many of our meetings were once face-to-face.” She bowed her head, and a pall fell over her companions.

Part of Mace’s mind was still on Depa’s abrupt departure, and what that might portend for her mission. But he had been listening, and struggling with all the issues that had been put before them.

His eyes widened, and Yoda saw it. “I know that look, Master Windu. A plan, you have.”

“Indeed.” Mace clasped his hands together. “Let us visit the outpost on Kwenn.”

The others stared at him.

Adi responded by consulting her datapad. “That . . . could be diffi­cult. But let me see who’s available. Maybe someone can get away.”

“Not someone,” Mace said, raising his index finger. “All of us.

His words startled many. “All?” Oppo asked.

“We will reconvene there, in person. We will meet the people, learn about their lives, and show our support. Both individually—and col­lectively, in public commemoration of the anniversary of the outpost’s founding.”

Saesee looked puzzled. “Celebrate the founding of the outpost—just to close it?”

Eeth pointed out what he’d just been reminded of—that no decision had been made. “But are we being honest? Closure has been recom­mended by our own researchers.”

“People we trust,” Ki-Adi-Mundi said. “Sentiment and nostalgia should not lead us to ignore them. Nor is it right to deceive the people of Kwenn.”

“There is no deception,” Yaddle said. “We truly wish to celebrate—and we might learn something that alters our view.”

Yoda nodded. “Change, Kwenn’s destiny could.”

Adi looked concerned. She spoke tentatively. “The chancellor will have received a copy of our study. It’s a courtesy. You know the Senate wants us committing our attentions elsewhere—and they know we al­ways follow our researchers’ leads. They might not understand why we’re not doing so now.”

Saesee snorted. He looked around. “I don’t seem to see the chancel­lor’s seat in here.”

Yaddle nodded. “The Senate and the Jedi are allies. But we keep our own counsel.”

Mace agreed. “Master Tiin is correct—we can do more than one thing at a time. Even as we meet the people of Kwenn, we can identify the artifacts we need to retrieve in advance of any closure.”

“It is a big outpost,” Yarael said. “Room for all of us.”

Plo glanced about. “I doubt there will be enough provisions for a group our size.”

“No problem,” Piell said. “I’m nearby, remember? Yitabo is the larder for half the worlds around. I’ll stock up here.”

Yaddle clasped her hands together in delight. “Answering the call. It feels right.”

Her trepidation passing, Adi concurred. “It would be good to get away from this thing for a while.” She plopped her datapad in her lap.

Mace heard nothing but agreement from the others. “It is decided. We will make our own ways there—arriving as we can. Master Depa will be apprised as well.”

“We will see the people of Kwenn—and they will see us,” Yaddle said. “And they will hear our message: The Jedi stand with you.

Star Wars: The Living Force arrives April 9; both the regular and Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition are available for pre-order now.

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