Star Wars: The High Republic
Star Wars: The High Republic will send two of its Adventures characters on an all-new journey in midnight horizon. Daniel José Older’s next novel will separate Zeen Mrala and Lula Talisola, with Zeen joining Padawans Reath Silas and Ram Jamoram on Corellia and Lula leading his own task force elsewhere.
In a CBR-exclusive excerpt from midnight horizon, Zeen and Lula negotiate their next adventure. The thought of parting ways brings intense feelings to the surface, with both Force users realizing that the nature of their relationship has caused them to reconsider the paths they are taking.
“Zeen grew up with people who don’t believe anyone should use the Force, and being Force-sensitive herself meant she had to suppress those abilities. So when she came across Lula and the other Starlight Padawans Beacon — the same people she was told to hate — it was like finally finding a home she didn’t even know she had lost,” Older told CBR. “She and Lula quickly became inseparable and after months of adventures and Nihil hunting together, they finally grow closer to Zeen’s former best friend, Krix Kamarat, and simultaneously realize how strong their bond is.”
The CBR-exclusive clip appears in full below:
Zeen Mrala and Lula Talisola sat opposite each other in a meditation position, as they had done so many times before.
Zeen didn’t know when they stopped sitting side by side during these sessions and started sitting face to face. She just knew it was more intimate that way, fairer.
As always, an endless skyscape seemed to open up between them, as if the entire wild galaxy came to life in their connected minds, from its giant spinning planets to the tiniest drops of dew on each trembling leaf.
“Do you feel me?” Lula asked, and Zeen knew she was smiling. They both were.
“Always,” she said. It was true. Even on the rare times they were far from each other—like at the Republic Fair, when all hell broke loose and thousands of people were screaming in fear and pain—Lula’s presence still felt like to a beacon in the midst of chaos. It wasn’t that Zeen knew exactly where her friend was, just that she could feel her, her warmth, and it had calmed her, guided her through the carnage until their physical bodies reunited.
But Zeen felt something else too – it had been growing inside her for months, and she didn’t know what to do with it, even what to name it.
Fear maybe. Or maybe love.
Either way, she was pretty sure it was about to explode. She was about to explode.
Lula had been appointed head of the working group. For a Padawan, it was an incredible honor. This meant that she would probably soon be knighted. She didn’t look happy though. Lula was the most ambitious person Zeen had ever met, but it didn’t seem to come from her ego – she wasn’t trying to outrank everyone; she just loved to learn, loved to challenge herself, loved the thrill of forward motion. Zeen knew that Lula had tried to slow down, to let each step of the journey be what it should be, but that kind of honor would have lit her up a few weeks ago.
In the briefing room, she just looked sad. And Zeen’s first thought had been selfish: Lula would be knighted, and then what? What place would there be for a random girl from nowhere in the life of a Jedi Knight? Jedi weren’t supposed to form attachments; they did not marry and settle down. They had more important things to do.
Zeen hated the bitter tone of his own thoughts; she should have been happy for her best friend at that time. And what did it mean that Lula didn’t seem happy either? Except that Zeen was a problem, a pure problem, in the life of his favorite person. A distraction.
It was then that Zeen had decided to go to Corellia with Ram and Master Sy. She would walk away a bit, and maybe things would make sense when she got back.
She immediately regretted her decision, but it was too late.
“Leaving will be good,” Lula said minutes later, when they both opened their eyes. That’s what they did, almost every day: they sat down. They let the universe reveal its shimmering secrets around them through meditation, and then they spoke, quietly, softly, as true as they knew, about everything that was happening that day.
“I’m not sure,” admitted Zeen. “I am…” Was it fear she still felt? Not exactly. Just discomfort. Uncertainty. But then… maybe it wasn’t his. “Are you?”
“I…” Lula usually wasn’t at a loss for words, but now she’s been quiet. “I don’t want our Krix hunt to become who you are.”
Zeen flinched a little. She knew her friend was expressing very real danger. Still, it hurt. “What will you be when we catch him?”
“Where will you go?”
“I thought I’d stay here,” Zeen said, because the truth was after Krix didn’t seem like a real thing, and it wouldn’t be until he was caught. She hadn’t given it much thought because they might not catch it for years, and they might catch it the next day. What was the point of planning when so much was uncertain?
Lula smiled that way she had that made her look like a little child. “That would be great.”
Zeen smiled back, but the sadness and uncertainty remained, and she still didn’t know if it was hers or Lula’s. “I don’t know what it will be like when the chase is over,” admitted Zeen. “I don’t know who I will be.”
“We can find out together,” Lula said. “The galaxy is changing as fast as we are. I’ve been” – his face darkened – “tried to figure out who I would be, too.”
“You have been put in charge of a special team, Lula. It’s almost unheard of for a Padawan. What’s wrong ?
An alert rang through the speaker system, and then Ram’s voice came through, gasping with nervousness and suppressed laughter. “Uh, Zeen Mrala, we’re about to leave for Corellia without vo–“
Reath cut him off. “No, we’re not! Don’t listen to him, Zeen. He’s still practicing his jokes. But we’re packing the shuttle, so hurry up, please!”
Lula and Zeen rolled their eyes at each other, then turned serious again simultaneously.
Zeen didn’t want to go anywhere Lula’s face wouldn’t be in front of her, ready with a thoughtful response or quiet silence. But Zeen was also desperate to get as far away from all the confusion and turmoil as possible.
“I don’t know,” Lula said. “To answer your question. It’s been on me for the past few weeks. You’ve seen it. I still don’t have an answer.” She met Zeen’s eyes with that determined look, the one that meant victory was imminent. “But I will find out, I promise.”
Zeen smiled. She believed her. What else could she do?
Lula smiled too, and it looked real. “Now let’s get you sent to Corellia.”
“midnight horizon is truly a wild, exuberant, heartfelt ride across the galaxy,” Older explained. “It’s an emotional and action-packed rollercoaster like star wars should be. Plus, there are tons of weird creatures, Corellian politics and lore, new characters, and the coolest, most intense battle scene I’ve ever written.”
“Zeen is really starting to understand his own role in the galaxy as a whole and how to step up and use his abilities for good,” he teased for the journey ahead. “She recognizes herself as part of something big and tries to juggle what that means when war seems to be breaking out everywhere. In the end, she has to figure out how to help her friends and stay alive in the process. Sometimes , that means going undercover at lavish Corellian cocktail parties, and sometimes that means fighting for your life against impossible odds…”
According to the official description of Star Wars: The High Republic – Midnight Horizon,
ON THE EDGE OF VICTORY… OR DISASTER?
After a series of staggering losses, the Republic finally seems to have Nihil’s evil Marauders on the run, and it seems there is light at the end of the tunnel. Until we hear of an alleged Nihil attack on the cosmopolitan industrial world of Corellia, deep in the galaxy.
Jedi Masters Cohmac Vitus and Kantam Sy, along with Padawans Reath Silas and Ram Jomaram, are sent to investigate, all fighting their own private battles after months of unrelenting danger. On Corellia, Reath and Ram meet a cheeky young security specialist named Crash, whose friend was one of the victims of Nihil’s attack, and they team up with her to infiltrate Corellia’s elite while the Masters pursue more diplomatic paths. But going undercover with Crash is more dangerous than expected, even if Ram enlists his friend Zeen to help him with an elaborate ruse involving a galactic pop star.
But what they discover on Corellia turns out to be only part of a bigger plan, one that could lead the Jedi to their most stunning defeat yet….
Star Wars: The High Republic – Midnight Horizon goes on sale Feb. 1 from Disney Books and is now available for pre-order.
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