The critically acclaimed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is getting a sequel dubbed Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. But that game only tells you part of the story. The saga of Cal Kestis is also expanding into the Star Wars novel line with a new book called Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars.
Written by Sam Maggs, this book will bridge the gap between the two games and chronicle another adventure for Cal and the crew of the Stinger Mantis. When Cal and friends encounter an Imperial Stormtrooper looking to defect, they catch wind of a powerful weapon that could deal a major blow to the Empire. The only catch is that pursuing this mission will once again put them in the crosshairs of the Sith Inquisitorius, and Fifth Brother is itching for a fight.
can debut an exclusive excerpt for Battle Scars, as we see Merrin’s point of view as she has an unexpected encounter with the Stormtrooper in question. Read on to see the print or listen to Marc Thompson’s audiobook narration.
With the exception of disappearing—which, thankfully, still came easily to her—Merrin didn’t need to use her magick to destroy these Imperial soldiers.
They managed to do that job just fine on their own.
Even with the difficulties Merrin had been having with her powers as of late—her frustrating inability to access them, so frustrating Merrin could barely even think about it—killing Imperials was still satisfying. She wasn’t picky; magicking them to their death was very funny, yes, but a blaster bolt to the helmet worked just as well, sometimes. Today, though, she kept them guessing: blinking in and out of sight the second they got a lock on her, sending them walking off cliffsides and shooting one another in the back. She knew Cal would eliminate the remaining bounty hunters; she’d seen him in action enough times to know that the man knew how to handle his lightsaber. But she was grateful he’d left the troopers to her.
Yes. Merrin was glad that she finally got to do something useful on this trip out to the middle of nowhere. Not that destroying this base wouldn’t be useful to the Mantis crew in general, but Merrin generally found that these side trips felt like distractions from the main event. From bringing down the people who had brought down her people. Or as close as she could come to that, these days.
Still, she was grateful to be useful. She was also grateful that she didn’t have to crawl on her stomach all the way back to the exit.
Every time in these last few years she had watched another stormtrooper’s little helmet shatter, or be crushed under a rockslide, or explode, or—she was getting lost with it. But every time she took another one out, regardless of how, she imagined it lighting a spark inside her. And every spark was one more chance to ignite what had gone out.
Every death, another opportunity.
There were times when Merrin fought the Empire when all she saw, all she felt was Dathomir. Its red skies and dark energy, sustaining and motivating and, more than anything, raw with potential. Her sisters; all the witch clans united under Mother Talzin, before the woman turned to the Sith. The verdant marshlands covered in red mists where Merrin had grown up, always knowing the danger inherent in the loveliness. The chirodactyls, floating lazily on the hot winds overhead, their cries waking her in the morning when the red sun first crested over the mountaintops. The clear, rejuvenating Water of Life, created with her own hands with the world around her, with which all Nightsisters were initiated. A world so strong and so beautiful and so terrifying all at the same time.
The ichor that flowed through Dathomir’s core had flowed through her veins, hot and molten. Their magick was more powerful than any- thing the Sith had to offer.
But it did not last.
And now, in each stormtrooper’s pathetic little helmet, Merrin saw reflected the stark white face of another: golden eyes in a mechanical shell, too many arms, too many lightsabers. Leading far, far too many troops into battle for the soul of Dathomir.
Air strikes. Assault tanks. The forests burned, Merrin’s sisters fell.
Not even an army of the dead could hold them back.
Merrin was lucky to have survived. Lucky, and very, very good. Or she had been. Once.
And now she would not stop until the people responsible for Dathomir’s destruction lay charred at her feet. She would trace the markings on her face with fingers coated in their ashes. She would avenge her beautiful, terrifying sisters, and her beautiful, terrifying planet.
It was the only thing in the galaxy that she was meant to do.
And so Merrin watched the stormtroopers fall one by one on her way out of the Haxion Brood base, and she smiled grimly.
She’d run in the opposite direction of the Mantis, not wanting to accidentally lead any straggling troops right back across the spindly bridge to their location, but now she had to find her way back. Fortunately, this damn rock was just built like one big circle; she couldn’t get lost even if she tried. All roads led back to the Mantis, eventually. Greez usually kept the ship hidden well, but she hoped he’d perhaps be favoring expediency over stealth at this point and have the engines already running by the time she arrived. Disappearing, rushing, and reappearing in small bursts from one ramshackle alley to the next, Merrin moved slowly around the ring, checking for any remaining troopers who had escaped her wrath.
In and out. Feeling and unfeeling. Something, then nothing. Again and again, until—
There was someone behind her. Trailing her even as she disappeared. Following her.
Between bursts, Merrin smiled. Finally.
The next time she disappeared, instead of continuing forward, Merrin doubled back. When she reemerged, she revealed herself directly behind her pursuer.
Merrin stared into the back of the shiny white helmet, and gold eyes stared back.
They were gone. Merely a trick of the light. Didn’t make the trooper any less dead, though.
Merrin lifted her arm, willing herself to find the fire—scraping her insides, desperate for the spark, when she heard—
“Wait! Wait.” The stormtrooper lifted her hands over her head. She was taller than Merrin, broader. Through her voice filtering unit, she sounded . . . different. Scared.
As she should be.
“I know about Dathomir,” the trooper blurted. “And I’m sorry.” Merrin paused. She couldn’t tell if the feeling in her was cold fury . . .or something else entirely.
“I don’t like to play with my food,” Merrin responded. Better the stormtrooper didn’t know she was having . . . hard times, with her powers, anyway. “And I don’t like when people speak about things they can’t possibly understand.”
“No, I’m—” the trooper stuttered as Merrin placed a hand on the back of the trooper’s helmet. “You’re Merrin. Witch of Dathomir. Part of the crew of the Stinger Mantis. You’re working against the Empire.”
Merrin rolled her eyes, even though there was no one to see her. “Are you reading my arrest warrant? I’ve heard it all before.”
“No,” the trooper said. “I need your help.”
Now Merrin had really heard it all. She dragged her fingers down the smooth white side of the helmet, felt for the latch on the right. Click.
“Please,” begged the trooper. “Merrin—”
“You don’t know me.” Merrin traced her finger around the neck joint to the other side, slowly, methodically. “And you should refrain from speaking my name again.” Her finger caught on the second catch. Click.
Maybe she did like to play, after all.
You learn something new about yourself every day.
One finger still on the helmet, Merrin walked around the stormtrooper until she was just beneath level with what passed for the white mask’s eyes. There was hardly any distance between Merrin and the trooper, and she thought it was odd that the woman had left her weapon holstered. When Merrin exhaled, she could see her breath leave condensation on the plastoid. She let her smile return as she noticed the trooper shaking.
With both hands, Merrin carefully grabbed both sides of the trooper’s helmet and lifted.
She wasn’t certain what to expect, but it wasn’t this.
A lavender neck. Jutting chin and full lips, several shades darker than the rest of her skin, violet like spilled ink, matched the hair cut short over her shoulders. Strong-featured soft face with freckles like crater orchid petals across her nose.
And eyes as red as the sky over Dathomir’s Rift Valley.
Not a human. That was unusual for a stormtrooper, as far as Merrin had seen.
From a hair’s breadth away, Merrin watched the woman swallow.
The helmet clattered to the ground. Merrin had forgotten she was holding it. But the noise was what Merrin needed to bring her back into the moment, and she shot her hand back up, wrapping it around the woman’s throat.
Hard. Muscular. Stronger than the stormtroopers Merrin usually fought.
“Talk,” Merrin demanded.
“Listen,” the woman said in a strange, sharp accent, quickly, pushing her words out through Merrin’s fingers. “I want out. I know you have no reason to trust me, or believe me, but I’ve read up on you. I know what the Separatists did to Dathomir.”
Merrin moved her face closer. She was shorter than the other woman, but Merrin didn’t need height. Her power made her fearsome. She would use that to her full, intimidating advantage.
She hoped the red-eyed woman could feel the fire radiating off her at the mention of something she had no right to be mentioning.
“War took my people from me, too,” the woman said, looking down and meeting Merrin stare for stare. If it weren’t so foolhardy, Merrin would almost be impressed. “I can’t—do this anymore. We all know about the Mantis crew. You’re my only chance at getting out.”
Merrin stared up into the red embers of the woman’s eyes. The dying coals left behind by the burning forests.
- Reprinted from Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars by Sam Maggs. © 2023 by Lucasfilm Ltd. Published by Random House Worlds, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars will release in both hardcover and audiobook forms on Tuesday, March 7.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for . Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.