Star Wars: The Clone Wars might have concluded with its final thrilling season on Disney+, but its influential legacy is alive and well in a special new YA anthology coming to our planet from the folks at Disney Lucasfilm Press.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Stories of Light and Dark arrives on August 25 and presents the timeless struggle between the forces of good and evil, as the Galactic Republic and the Separatists clash for the fate of the galaxy. This engaging 384-page anthology contains 11 short stories each adapted from and inspired by a classic episode of the Emmy Award-winning series, all written by an international assembly of acclaimed authors.
SYFY WIRE has an exclusive chapter excerpt from Zoraida Córdova's entry, "The Lost Nightsister," starring the intimidating assassin Asajj Ventress and transformed from The Clone Wars' Season 4 installment, "Bounty."
Stories of Light and Dark showcases a sparkling constellation of The Clone Wars stars such as Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Cad Bane, Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex, Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and many others. The impressive roster of writing talent also includes Lou Anders, Tom Angleberger, Preeti Chhibber, E. Anne Convery, Sarah Beth Durst, Jason Fry, Yoon Ha Lee, Rebecca Roanhorse, Anne Ursu, and Greg van Eekhout.
"Ventress is my girl,” Córdova tells SYFY WIRE. “I love her as a character in Star Wars; she’s one of the first people we meet in The Clone Wars. She starts out with a very defined backstory and we see the progression of her downfall, all because of Count Dooku. That’s something I really wanted to touch on, and 'Bounty' is one of my favorite episodes, so I was happy that story was still available and I could work on it.
“I wanted to fill in her mental state. Ventress has gone through so much trauma. She watches the massacre of the Nightsisters at the hands of Count Dooku’s droid army. Then she just hops on a ship and goes far away to hide on Tatooine. You don’t know it’s Tatooine right away, but there are small hints you’re in the cantina at Mos Eisley. I wanted to see where her mind was and what is next for her. She’s been a padawan, a Sith apprentice, and in many ways a gun for hire, and now what is she now that she doesn’t have her Nightsisters with her anymore?"
Seeing more women in Star Wars was extremely important to Córdova.
"The Nightsisters is a cool part of Star Wars because it expands on the magic that exists in the universe," she explains. "We all know the Force, but what about this group of witches on Dathomir who can heal somebody that’s beyond broken, the way that they healed Maul? We see this other kind of mysticism that’s a little bit darker, but still not the dark side of the Force."
Córdova also got to write a young Boba Fett, whose bounty-hunting gang Ventress hooks up with.
"Because I wasn’t writing from Boba’s perspective, I didn’t get to play around with him as much," she adds. "It’s more what Ventress saw him as, and the idea that this little boy is running this crew, Krayt's Claw. We got to use the name of his crew in the short story for the first time, so that was cool.
"I love Boba Fett, he’s one of my favorite characters, and a young Boba Fett is fascinating to me because he parallels a lot of Anakin’s anger, but he’s not Force-sensitive. So he has a regular experience as a boy who is a clone and had to survive by any means possible by learning from some of the worst people in the galaxy. He’s not really a good guy in this episode, but he’s kinda funny."
Now enjoy an exclusive excerpt from "The Lost Nightsister" from Star Wars:The Clone Wars - Stories of Light and Dark, arriving August 25 and published by Disney Lucasfilm Press.
“Hey, there,” came a deep voice.
She cut her eyes toward him but didn’t bother to look up.
“What’s a pretty bald babe like you doing in a desert like this?”
Ventress narrowed her eyes. The creep was humanoid, with pasty skin and two small horns right above the slits of his nose. Four fleshy tendrils hung from his flat face, framing a smile full of sharp teeth. She was in no mood for his pathetic attempt at conversation. “Get lost.”
She could sense that he wasn’t going to leave. Worse, he touched her. Grabbed her by the wrist like she was a thing he could possess. Ventress belonged to no one but herself.
“Hey, I’m talking to you, lady.”
Ventress remembered the way she’d felt helpless on Dathomir. She’d only ever felt that way two other times in her life. When she’d watched her Jedi master murdered. When Count Dooku had ordered her killed. Being helpless felt like drowning. When the stranger put his hand on her and she looked into his split-pupil eyes, she didn’t feel helpless. Here she could fight back. Best of all, she could win. With a grip around her lightsaber, Ventress pressed the hilt close to his stomach. She ignited it.
The surprise in his eyes, well, surprised her. It seemed that men who tried to push her around were always surprised when she fought back.
The music came to a screeching halt. Everyone from the gambling fuzzy-headed Snivvian to the green Rodian down the bar gaped at her. The Twi’lek dancer gasped. A glass shattered somewhere.
Ventress returned her drink to her lips and proclaimed, “I’m not much of a talker.”
The cantina patrons laughed at that, and the band of Biths resumed their playing.
For a moment, Ventress breathed a little easier. Now she was positive she’d be left alone.
The bartender returned with a glass in his hand. His dark eyes were wary, and she sensed his nerves sparking like cut circuits.
“Uh, compliments of the lizard in the back,” he said. Sitting in a circular booth were two strangers. One was the lizard who’d sent the drink. He was with a young Theelin female. Her skin was lilac and her orange hair was split into pigtails. The lizard-faced Trandoshan held his bottle in the air and waved her over.
This wasn’t the sort of place where someone made friends. They’d just seen her impale the last guy who bothered her and they wanted to, what, talk? But something, a feeling she wasn’t quite sure of, made her get up and join them.
“What do you want?” Ventress asked, crossing her arms over her body.
Lizard-face’s tongue licked the air. “I’m Bossk and this is Latts Razzi. We’re bounty hunters, and—”
“We have a problem,” the Theelin girl said, cutting him off.
Ventress placed her hands on her lightsabers. Though she didn’t sense any animosity coming from the two, she could never be too careful. “What kind of problem?”
Bossk motioned to the body on the floor behind them. The bartender was dragging him out by his feet.
“You just killed one of our team,” Bossk said. Ventress shrugged. “Sorry about that.”
Bossk looked at her curiously. His serpentine voice hissed with a flick of his flat tongue. “So, where’d you get the lightsabers?”
“Stole them,” she said without missing a beat.
He seemed impressed. “Bounty hunter, then?” Bounty hunter. She was Asajj Ventress. An assassin. A Force wielder. She’d been so many things, but he thought she was nothing but a common hired gun.
“No,” she said.
“Ever considered it?” Bossk asked. His reptilian eyes looked her up and down. “You certainly have the right disposition.”
“Never thought about it,” she said, taking a seat. “Does it pay well?”
Latts Razzi held up her glass, displaying the many rings on her fingers. Expensive-looking, glittering rings. “Very well.”
“We have a job to do.” Bossk stood up to his full height. He wore a flight suit that protected his neck. “And you owe us a man. Join our merry band of bounty hunters, or we turn you over to the authorities.”
Ventress remained where she sat. She didn’t like threats or ultimatums. She quickly considered that he was lying. Were there authorities in a settlement like this? Then she remembered: there was a different kind of authority on Tatooine. The Hutts. And where there was a Hutt, there was someone willing to pay. Ventress couldn’t afford attention from Jabba, not after playing a part in kidnapping his kid.
“What do I have to do?”
“It’s best we show you,” Latts said.
In the back of her head she heard Mother Talzin’s words again: You have your own path to follow now. Her path couldn’t mean this job. But at least it was a start.