Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha: Return to Kesh

Sentinel

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Author: John Jackson Miller

Medium: Ebook novella

Publication Date: February 2011 on StarWars.com

  • Anthologized Jul 2012 in Lost Tribe of the Sith: The Collected Stories

Timeline Placement: 3,960 – 3,959 BBY

Series: Lost Tribe of the Sith

Jeff of Minnesota sits in a Keshiri bar, trying to get drunk on sparkling water. “I think . . . I might have ruined my life,” he tells the bartender. “Sounds like you met a woman,” the bartender observes.

Jeff has been unable to track down Orielle Kitai, the Sith girl who has discovered that he is a Jedi Knight stranded on a planet full of Sith, and who he also kind of has a thing for. Knowing she must be headed for the Sith capital of Tahv, Jeff resolves to hunt for her there, despite how ill the concentrated psychic malevolence of all the Sith makes him.

Ori meets with her mother and tells her that she has discovered a way off the planet but because she’s just a kid she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Her mom tells her which Sith High Lords she has to talk to to trade Jeff’s ship in exchange for their family’s reinstatement in the aristocracy. After doing this, she heads up to the rooftops of Tahv to steal an uvak, the giant flying lizards ridden by the Sith, where she runs into Jeff. They have a brief lightsaber duel in a fountain, ending when Ori drops her weapon in the water and can’t find it, which is awesome. This is easily the best lightsaber fight we’ve seen so far because both fighters are so incompetent. It’s great.

Jeff appeals to Ori’s better nature and through the power of love he’s able to convince her to give up on her dreams of galactic domination. Which is fine, you know, whatever. They team up and head back to Jeff’s farm, hoping to give the Sith Jeff’s blasters so they will go home without noticing the spaceship in the barn. Jeff hides in the woods while Ori goes to meet the High Lords, only to discover that Grand Lord Lillia Venn herself has come out to see the ship. It turns out that Ori’s mom has betrayed her, as the Sith are wont to do, in return for not having to shovel lizard crap anymore.

Ori is taken prisoner by the Sith guards while Lillia Venn climbs into the starfighter and somehow figures out how to turn it on. Suddenly Jeff comes running out of the woods, grabbing his blasters with the Force and gunning down the Sith holding Ori captive. The remaining Sith get their lightsabers out but because no one on Kesh has deflected a blaster bolt in a thousand years they are unable to defend themselves, which is a cool detail. Jeff grabs Ori and they make a run for it while the starfighter rises into the air.

“She won’t even need us to sever the moorings,” one of the Luzo brothers observes.

“Moorings?” asks the other, and looks down to see two cables running from the bottom of the fighter into the pile of uvak manure. He goes, “Oh, sh—” and then the cables snap, triggering the proton torpedo booby trap buried under the ship. The fertilizer ignites and the whole barn goes up in a ball of fire that consumes the remaining Sith along with Jeff’s starfighter.

Later, we find Jeff and Ori constructing a hut deep in the forest, where the canopy is too thick for any uvak-riders to find them. Each of them has lost everything, except for the other. The only remnants Jeff has left of his old life are his lightsaber and the transmitter from his ship. The atmosphere of Kesh prevents him from sending any messages out, but he has occasionally been able to hear transmissions from the broader galaxy. Eight weeks after the loss of his ship, he receives a warning that makes him realize he can never go home again.

“The Jedi are at war with one another,” he tells Ori. “A Jedi named Revan. When I lived there, Revan was like us—trying to rally the Jedi against a great enemy. From the sound of it, something’s gone wrong. The Jedi Order has split. It’s at war with itself.”

Jeff blames the Covenant for this. They were the first to divide the Jedi into sects, and now they are so divided the galaxy can’t trust any of them anymore. He decides that, if the Jedi have been corrupted and the galaxy is again at war, exposing them to an entire planet full of Sith is the last thing he wants to do. He smashes his transmitter, sacrificing his last chance of rescue or escape to protect the galaxy. He and Ori will build a new life here in the hinterlands of Kesh, free at last from the shackles of who they used to be. “The cords were cut. It was time to live.”

I didn’t like this one quite as much as Purgatory because that element of surprise and revelation, while still there in the form of the intercepted transmission about Revan, wasn’t quite as strong this time. Jeff being a Jedi was something I didn’t see coming at all, whereas the news about the Jedi schism, while unexpected, wasn’t as shocking since a connection to major events outside of Kesh had already been established.

It was still pretty good, though. The characters, although not much more sketched out than they were before, are still likable and make you want to root for both of them even though they start off with opposite goals and you know both of them can’t succeed. The battle in the fountain was a particular highlight, as I noted before, because Ori is unbelievably sucky at saber-fighting and Jeff’s heart just isn’t in it, resulting in one of the most entertainingly pathetic lightsaber duels of all time.

It makes no sense to me that a Sith society has lasted this long since it seems like they’re all always trying to kill each other. That said, it was great to see Grand Lord Lillia Venn’s own treachery come around to literally blow up in her face. Miller could have done a bit more to sell Ori’s abrupt abandonment of the Sith ways, but it was set up enough in the previous story through the time she spent on Jeff’s farm and Jeff’s perceptions of her that it didn’t take me out of the story or make me roll my eyes in embarrassment or anything.

I suppose it’s the mark of a good story that I really wish we had more time to spend with Ori and Jeff, to watch their relationship evolve in greater detail and see what happens to them next, but these two stories are all we get. After 50+ issues of KotOR, I guess I’ve gotten used to characters sticking around for a while.

Oh well, 4/5 Death Stars, now get this crap out of here. Didn’t you hear what Jeff said? The Jedi Civil War’s already begun!

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