USA Today has published a new excerpt from Star Wars: Brotherhood, an upcoming novel starring Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker and taking place just after Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Mike Chen’s book will be released on May 10. Read the excerpt below.
The Cadesura disaster stole the gathering’s sense of ceremony, though when the meeting adjourned, Obi-Wan had hoped to express his pride to Anakin. And given the importance of the milestone, he’d figured his old Padawan would have wanted to have a moment together. But Anakin left so fast that Obi-Wan only caught the blur of his dark cloak on the way out. Thoughts stirred in his mind, war commitments keeping their relationship distant in the short span following the promotion. He’d held on to so many questions for Anakin, waiting for a quiet moment: Was his new arm working for him? Did he have any questions about the responsibilities that came with becoming a Jedi Knight?
What really happened on Tatooine?
But between the rapidly changing intel on the Separatist insurgencies and the sheer chaos of synthesizing military battalions into the long-standing traditions of the Jedi Order, Obi-Wan and Anakin barely had time to breathe, let alone have a talk. Obi-Wan followed the trail of his former apprentice, hustling from the courtyard to the interior, then down the steps over to one of the Jedi Temple’s wide hallways. He kept pace, though he never got too close—a range that put him in plain sight just in case Anakin decided to slow down and turn around.
But when it became clear that Anakin’s pace was actually increasing, he reminded himself to let go of that personal desire to catch up. Anakin would come find him when he was good and ready. Besides, the catastrophe on Cato Neimoidia remained his top priority, and the fallout from it meant all sorts of complications, not just for the Jedi, but for every system, faction, and government somehow connected to the war.
He just had to find a way to start untangling it all.
Obi-Wan was about to break left toward the stairway leading to the Jedi Archives when he saw Anakin pause down the hall. Despite the distance, he recognized Anakin’s body language, and the shift proved massive enough that it stole Obi-Wan’s thoughts from the war.
Anakin, so bold in his determination, usually walked with his weight carrying him forward, nearly leaning ahead as if he were chasing the future. But here Anakin stopped and his entire body softened, from the way he held his shoulders to the way his arms hung. His head turned, waiting, and Anakin’s smile grew so large that Obi-Wan saw it across the hall.
Then he understood why.
Dashing across to meet him was Padmé Amidala, trailed by a handmaiden and one of Naboo’s security, a woman Obi-Wan recognized as Mariek Panaka. The senator marched directly, wearing a flowing maroon dress with dark-navy trim, a simple bronze headpiece holding her hair tightly in a bun. She took even and controlled steps, presenting the opposite of Anakin’s hurried gait, but the same straight path, like magnets hurtling through space to lock into each other. He’d heard Padmé had been visiting the capital planet on Senate business for a few days, though all senators had been on Coruscant more often than not in the weeks following Geonosis. As much as the Jedi shuffled around the galaxy these days, senators seemingly had withdrawn to the Core, dealing with the hows and whys of a potential civil war while the Jedi commanded clone troopers.
Padmé’s proximity wasn’t much of a surprise, but her stop at the Jedi Temple was a little out of the norm. Unless she planned on attending the courtyard ceremony for the newly promoted Jedi Knights? It may have been as simple as that, given her history with Anakin—a show of respect and gratitude, something thrown off course by the news of Cato Neimoidia.
As for Anakin, well, Obi-Wan had known of his former Padawan’s infatuation with the senator for a while now. He understood, having handled his own youthful brush with temptation—one of the few things that still made him equally chuckle and groan when he thought of it. At least until he let the memories drift away into the distance, knowing they’d float back ashore at some point. But here, Anakin’s greeting, though stilted and formal, rippled a wave of emotion through the Force, a very specific frequency that Obi-Wan recognized as everything he knew about Anakin consolidated into a flash.
Curiosity. Adoration. Joy, anxiety, fear. All of those rippled off Anakin, but above all came something far more dangerous:
And passion was a liability even during normal Jedi operations. But infinitely more so in the context of war.
He expected the senator to go on her way, a short greeting before official business. He also expected Anakin to hesitate a second too long, that boyish infatuation pulling his attention more than it should before his sense of duty returned.
Instead, they stood there. A careful distance apart to be sure, but something was markedly different here. Not that long ago, Padmé had practically brushed Anakin aside when they’d arrived in her apartment following the assassination attempt, right before Geonosis. Yet here, though they held an air of formality between them, they clearly engaged with each other. The senator known for giving impassioned speeches, for her sharp observational skills, for her ability to find a constructive path forward, was lingering to talk with a Jedi known for never slowing down, whether in a speeder or on foot or by any other means.
But there they were, talking politely, smiling at each other. Padmé even took a quick glance around her, a subtle move that no one would notice up close, but it clearly stood out from above—especially because for the briefest of moments, her bodyguard looked off at something in the distance. She reached up, a quick touch at the spot behind his ear where his Padawan braid had been.
Then, as if the gesture flipped a switch in her, Padmé’s pose tightened, her chest and shoulders suddenly taller despite her small frame. Anakin too reacted, but not with the expected embarrassment from such a close interaction with the object of one’s infatuation, but rather a scan to either side, similar to Padmé’s yet nowhere near as subtle.
He soon matched her, returning to a strong stance. Though he towered over her in height, the air of softness surrounded him, and another short conversation passed, words too quiet for even a dedicated observer to pick up. Despite this turn to buckled-down formality, Anakin’s bare emotions continued rippling outward. Even as they parted ways, Anakin’s feelings left a wake in the Force, a clear silhouette of his presence, something that probably only Obi-Wan would recognize. Far too often Anakin let his emotions dictate the situation, the tempering from Jedi training working only as a leash to the impulses that still ruled his actions. But anything that let a Jedi’s guard down for even a moment put the Republic at risk.
Especially one as powerful as Anakin Skywalker. Especially one prophesied to be the Chosen One, to bring balance to the Force.
And Padmé, rather than dismissing it as she’d done in her apartment not too long ago, had amplified their connection. What to make of all of this? She was letting Anakin indulge in his infatuation, though to what degree, Obi-Wan couldn’t tell. But there was more to it, and Obi-Wan wasn’t sure if he wanted to know where it led.
“Oh.” The short word escaped him, an expression as unexpected as what he’d just witnessed. He continued watching Anakin, who took a moment to gather himself before stopping to talk with Jaro Tapal and the red-haired youngling who trailed him. And though they talked longer than he did with the senator, no similar feelings projected from him, not in Anakin’s body language nor in his connection to the Force.
“Oh, hello, Master Kenobi,” Padmé said with a quick wave. “Is the chancellor still here?”
Obi-Wan must have been so lost in watching Anakin that he completely missed Padmé making her way up the stairs to his location. She stood still, and both her handmaiden and her bodyguard waited equally spaced from her, nearly a precise triangle formation. He nodded to greet the trio, then considered how to answer. “He attended the ceremony by holoconference. But the topic changed quickly.”
“Because of Cato Neimoidia?”
“Because of Cato Neimoidia.”
“Thank you,” she said, a simple and efficient acknowledgment.
Obi-Wan gave another quick nod, still in his same spot as she moved quickly past to connect with Senator Bail Organa across the hallway.
It seemed that many senators were suddenly interested in visiting the Jedi Temple. But galactic disaster would do that, especially when Count Dooku publicly goaded the Republic into sending someone to the site of the bombing, possibly even its leader. Obi-Wan shook the mixture of doubts and concerns from his mind, the question of Anakin’s motives pulling him away from the task at hand, though he reminded himself that something like this might not resolve immediately—or could resolve on its own.
It might even require a conversation with Anakin.
But right now, the Republic was at war. The Jedi had to intervene. And if he wanted to prevent Palpatine from falling into Dooku’s trap, he needed to convince Cato Neimoidia to accept a Jedi emissary rather than the chancellor.
Obi-Wan let go of his feelings and started toward the Jedi Archives.