Wedge Antilles is a hero of the Battle of Yavin. The Battle of Hoth. The Battle of Endor. He’s a legend.
And he’s back.
Star Wars: Resistance Reborn, a pivotal prequel to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker from author Rebecca Roanhorse, arrives November 5 and finds the remnants of the Resistance carrying on the fight against the First Order.
In this exclusive excerpt, Wedge — ace X-wing pilot and hero of the Rebellion — must face the past, present, and what may be a dark future. Read the preview (also available here in audio form) and see the book’s surprise final cover below, featuring Wedge.
Morning dawned hot and wet over Myrra, Akiva’s capital city. It had rained steadily through the night, and a thick mist still hung in the morning air. The yellow sun shone weak and waterlogged across the narrow alleys of the city proper and the verdant fields of the more generously landed outer settlements. Puddles gathered ankle-deep in the pockmarked dirt roads and gutters, filled to overflowing, dripping intermittently off the clay-tiled rooftops. Just outside the city among the settlements of family farms, Wedge Antilles dragged himself out of bed, put a pot of caf on to boil, and stepped outside into the relentlessly muggy morning.
“It’s like sticking your head in a happabore’s mouth,” he observed to no one as he stretched his arms over his head and let loose a huge yawn. Something in his shoulder tweaked, causing a sharp pain in his lower back. He rubbed at the spot, mumbling a mild curse. That pain hadn’t been there before. He must have aggravated something weeding the garden with Norra yesterday. Wedge had been tortured by Imperials years ago and still bore the results. His body just wasn’t what it used to be. Of course, he reminded himself, old age was just as much of a culprit. Not as nefarious as the Empire had been, but even more relentless.
He stepped off the back porch and made his way across his yard. It was a modest yard, just as the house was a modest house, but it suited him and Norra just fine. Big enough for the two of them and the occasional guest. Two bedrooms, a study, a kitchen, and an outhouse. Out back was a water collection system with a purifier and septic tank and the standard parcel of one hectare to farm. Norra had insisted they plant three varieties of peppers and plenty of the stubby maize native to the region. There were also two rows of purple tubers and a koshar melon vine and, of course, the poultry house Snap had built for them last time he visited. When was that? Wedge had a hard time remembering. Must have been a while now, well before Snap and Karé Kun had gotten married.
It was early enough in the day that none of Wedge’s near neighbors were out yet, and it felt like he had the whole world to himself, even if that world consisted of a misty water garden. The weather reminded Wedge of the stories Luke had told him about Dagobah. Now, there was a name he hadn’t thought of in a long while, certainly not since Luke had gone off seeking . . . well, whatever he’d gone off seeking. Luke hadn’t really explained much to Wedge, but then he didn’t owe him an explanation. They had been kids together, really. Endor was a long time ago, and Yavin was even longer. Wedge didn’t have to look at a calendar to know that. He could feel it in his bones. In the ache of his joints in this damn humidity, in the fact that his eyes didn’t work as well as they used to, and now in the throb of pain in his lower back. Norra encouraged him to go to the doctor and have his ailments checked out. “They have medicine for those things, you know,” she had teased him last time he had complained, but he had earned his aches and pains, hadn’t he? He was one of the lucky ones. So many of his friends hadn’t survived the war. They didn’t get to live long enough to complain about the trials of old age. So he brushed Norra’s advice off and lived with the pain another day, a warped badge of honor.
Wedge filled two bowls with clean water from the purifier next to the house and carefully carried them over to the keedee coop. He set them down on either end of the fenced-in enclosure and filled another bowl with feed. The tiny creatures inside were awake and restless so he let them out to get their exercise. They scampered out on two feet, fluffing their multicolored tail plumage with a lot of chirping and flapping, leaving bursts of bright blue and yellow feathers in their wake. He removed a wide square cloth from his pocket and spread it out. He could see there were almost a dozen eggs waiting for collection in the now empty nests, and he got to work retrieving the pale-green orbs. He remembered a game he used to play with his students at the academy called stack-sticks. They all thought it was a waste of time, but then his students had thought that anything that didn’t get them in the air and flying was boring. Typical pilots. He’d tried to teach them that flying was more than just hotshot maneuvers and force of will. You had to have finesse, too. Judgment. A willingness to take your time and make the correct choices so that when you were in the heat of battle you had learned to keep a cool head, and if your head failed you, then maybe your muscle memory would do the job instead. They didn’t get it at the time, but he hoped they eventually did, and it would serve them well in the future.
The last of the eggs collected and wrapped safely in fabric, Wedge headed back to the house. He’d leave the keedees out for a couple of hours and come back before lunch to check on them. There weren’t many predators that would bother them this close to town, and especially not on a soggy day like today, but he didn’t like to take too many chances with the birds. They were a bit like part of the family now. He shook his head. When had he become so sentimental, and when had collecting eggs from docile fowl become the most dangerous part of the day? He was glad to be alive, that was for sure, but sometimes he wondered if his friends who had burned out fighting had the right of it. Retirement was no easy mission for an old soldier like himself.
Movement from above caught his eye, and he looked up through the hazy air. A flash of metal and the familiar roar of engines as two starfighters streaked through the lightening sky. His pulse sped up. For a moment his fingers flexed in shock, loosening around his makeshift egg basket, and he almost dropped his day’s bounty. He braced the basket from underneath and tightened his grip.
He would recognize those starfighters anywhere. The telltale cruciform, the sound of the engines as the sleek ships broke through the atmosphere. Those were X-wings. Now, what were they doing on Akiva, and—more important—why were they coming back around to land . . . here?
Snap and Karé were seated on the long kitchen table bench, heads together. They pulled apart, guilty as academy cadets caught canoodling after hours.
“Mom,” Snap said, getting to his feet. “Wow, you look great.”
“You do, too, son.” She hugged Snap briefly and then Karé as she stood to be embraced. Norra motioned them to sit again, and she and Wedge joined them. Karé had brought the caf to the table along with four mugs. She had already poured herself and Snap a cup, and Wedge did the same for himself and Norra. Norra wrapped her hands around the mug and breathed in the fragrant steam. “It’s great to see you, Temmin, and you and Karé are always welcome here, but Wedge said you had news?”
“I’ll get to that,” he said, sounding a bit evasive, “but first tell me how you’ve been.”
“We’ve been the same as always,” she said, a little sharply. “There’s not much change out here in the Outer Rim.”
“Did the news of Hosnian Prime not reach you?”
Norra blushed. “Of course it did. I’m sorry, is that what you meant?”
He nodded. “How has the local government responded?”
“An emergency election was called,” Wedge said. “They voted out the governor and voted in some wealthy merchant known to be friendly with the First Order.”
“A hedge against occupation,” Norra said. “But no one’s showed up demanding to take over the planet, yet. And day-to-day things have stayed the same. What’s it like out there in the galaxy? We haven’t gotten any news in ages.”
“We came from Ikkrukk,” Karé said. “Do you know it?”
“A Mid Rim world. The capital is Grail City. Made a few cargo runs there before.”
“The First Order came knocking and demanded they surrender to immediate occupation. When they refused, the First Order opened fire.”
Norra glanced at Wedge. “Just like what we expect to happen here.”
“Luckily, we were in the vicinity,” Snap said. “General Organa had sent Black Squadron there on a related mission. It was rough for a while but Poe showed up at the last minute to pull us out of the fire.”
“Literally,” Karé added.
“How is Poe?” Wedge asked. “He was one of my best students. Besides you, of course,” he added hastily for Snap’s sake.
“Now I know you’re lying,” Snap countered. “I was a terrible student.”
“You were a terrible student,” Wedge agreed.
The three of them laughed, but Norra frowned, mouth tight.
“What do you mean Poe Dameron showed up at the last minute? Isn’t he Black Squadron’s leader?”
“Snap was flying Black One on this mission,” Karé said, a note of pride in her voice.
“That’s great, son,” Wedge said, beaming. “I knew you would lead your own squadron one day.”
Snap lowered his head. “It was more out of necessity. Poe had another mission.” He sipped from his mug and then straightened. “And here we come to some of the bad news.”
Norra stiffened. “I knew it. Who’s dead?”
“Norra,” Wedge admonished her softly. “Snap didn’t say—”
“We weren’t there,” Snap said, cutting him off, “but Poe filled us in on the important information. There was a battle at some backwater called Crait and . . .” He shook his head sadly.
“And who?” Norra said, voice taut.
“Everyone,” Karé said gently.
“Not everyone,” Snap corrected hastily at the look on his mother’s face. “But the Resistance leadership is gone. Admiral Holdo, Ackbar, Statura. The entire fleet.”
“Leia?” Norra asked, voice breaking.
“No, General Organa survived. Somehow. But she’s still not entirely well, Poe said, and she can’t run the Resistance by herself.”
“I don’t understand,” Wedge said. He stood up and took a few steps away, as if he wanted to put space between himself and Snap’s news. “Admiral Ackbar is gone?”
“But he survived Endor. And Jakku. I thought . . .” Wedge ran a shaky hand through his graying hair. “I thought he would live forever. How?”
“Does it matter?” Norra asked.
Wedge looked at her, but she shrugged and looked away.
“There’s one more loss. Wedge, you better sit down.”
Oh no. That was a sure sign Wedge preferred to stand. He leaned back against the edge of the kitchen counter and crossed his arms. “Tell me,” he commanded, his voice hard.
Wedge swayed. He reached back, gripping the counter. Not Luke. Could he even be killed? Didn’t Jedi live forever or something?
“You okay?” He looked up and Karé was standing next to him, holding him by the elbow. He shook her off gently. “I’m fine. I’m not an old man, damn you.”
Karé stepped back, eyes big. Her mouth turned down, clearly wounded. Wedge sighed, telling himself to get a grip.
“I’m sorry, Karé. I didn’t mean to snap. It’s just . . .” His hands really were shaking now. In fact his whole body seemed to be shaking.
“Everyone,” Norra said, repeating Karé’s earlier word, her voice barely a whisper, but Wedge heard her.
Star Wars: Resistance Reborn arrives November 5 and is available for pre-order now.
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