Resistance Reborn is only days away and USA Today bring the latest excerpt from the book, highlighting the ragtag nature of the Resistance and the fighters who’s origins span every corner of the cosmos and every affiliation.
Poe arrived at the fight just as one of the pilots Wedge had brought in from Phantom Squadron went sliding across the floor, his feet skidding out from under him in a streak of blood.
“What in the hell?” Poe murmured, taking in the scene. To his left was the ex-Imperial, Teza Nasz. She was breathing hard, her chest rising and falling rapidly. She had a cut above one of her eyes that bled freely, streaking the ocher on her cheeks and dripping on the floor like rubies against the black stone. The woman surged forward, a pillar of muscle, but Jess Pava hurried to stop her. She wrapped a hand around the woman’s arm, pulling her back, pleading in words that Poe couldn’t hear this far away.
To his right, Wedge and another man were helping the Phantom Squadron pilot Poe didn’t know up from the floor over his protests that he was fine and didn’t need their help.
The gathered assembly had created a loose circle around the two combatants, clearly ready to cheer on the fight. Poe looked at their faces. They were a fair mix of rebel veterans – graybeards left over from the war with the Empire – and fresh faces that looked like they couldn’t be long out of flight school, if they ever attended flight school at all. The absurdity of it all flashed through his mind. The old and the young, both caught up in this war, both fighting for the same things, yet somehow fighting each other. Might as well punch yourself in the face, he thought. That last thought stopped him in his tracks. Is that what Maz had been trying to tell him? That he was fighting himself?
“Antilles,” he said, voice threaded with anger. “What in the hell is going on?”
“Agoyo swung first,” Norra Wexley offered. She was standing beside Wedge, clearly evaluating the ex-Imperial with something that looked like appreciation.
“I’m not sure I care,” Poe said, somewhere between disgusted and tired. “We’re all on the same side here. What is this about?” He waved his hand in the general direction of the circle of bystanders.
“You should care!” shouted the young pilot Norra had named as Agoyo. He was back on his feet, but the uniform he wore was streaked with blood that wasn’t his. That uniform wasn’t his, either. Or at least it had belonged to someone else before Agoyo claimed it. For one, it was at least a size too big, but the giveaway was the Phantom Squadron patch. This kid was way too young to have been part of Phantom Squadron.
Poe raised an eyebrow. “Identify yourself, pilot.” He hated to call the young man out, but he also knew that he needed to put an end to whatever this was right now, before grudges formed and things got even more complicated.
Agoyo tossed his black hair out of his eyes defiantly. He crossed thin arms over a square chest, and his expressive mouth twisted now in something close to contempt. Poe shook his head. Agoyo was this close to insubordination.
“Name, pilot,” he repeated crisply.
“Pacer,” the kid practically spit. “Pacer Agoyo.”
“Pacer.” Poe gave him a nod of acknowledgment. “You know who I am?”
Pacer nodded. “Poe Dameron.”
“No. I’m your commanding officer,” Poe corrected him. “And frankly, right now I’m not impressed with what I see. I understand you’ve come a long way to join us . . .” He left the statement open until Pacer offered: “Nuja. My dad flew with Phantom Squadron at Kashyyyk but he’s dead. So I came instead.”
That explained the uniform. “I appreciate your father’s service, and your willingness to join the Resistance, but unfortunately, it looks like you’re not a good fit for this mission. You’re free to leave.” Poe very purposefully turned his back on the pilot. Small gasps of shock echoed around him, and then silence. He caught Leia’s eye. She was standing back at the edge of the crowd, watching.
Poe heard Pacer shifting in his boots. He cocked his head slightly to indicate he was waiting.
Finally Pacer spoke. “Poe . . . I mean, Commander Dameron. I-I want to stay, sir. Please. It’s just . . .”
Poe could almost feel the emotion flowing off the young pilot like a living thing. The kid was deep into it, whatever it was. Not embarrassment, not regret . . . righteousness. Righteousness and rage.
He turned. “It’s just what, Agoyo?”
Pacer wasn’t looking at him. He was focused on Teza Nasz. And his gaze burned hot, all that rage bubbling to the surface.
“Do you know each other?” Poe asked, a suspicion forming in his mind.
“She murdered my brother!” Pacer growled. He took a step forward, fists rising.
“Agoyo!” Poe barked sharply, drawing the young man’s attention to himself.
“Eyes on me,” he said, and now their eyes met. “You will stop menacing Teza Nasz, or I will have you thrown in the brig until you can cool down. Is that understood?” Poe wondered if they even had a brig, but certainly they could improvise, if necessary. He hoped it wouldn’t be necessary.
Pacer Agoyo paled. Wedge, who had been standing near the young man and watching, placed a hand on Pacer’s arm and leaned in to whisper in his ear. At first Poe thought Agoyo would shake him off, but instead some of the bubbling anger seemed to dissipate, and he let Wedge pull him back.
Poe breathed a silent sigh of relief and made a note to speak to Wedge later. But first, he had to bring Teza Nasz on board, too.
“Well?” Poe asked, turning to the ex-Imperial. He knew next to nothing about the woman, but he would have to figure her out quickly. He needed everyone’s buy-in, or this wouldn’t work. Simmering resentments, distrust, and personal grudges would kill this new Resistance just as quickly as an attack by the First Order.
Teza turned a painted, blood-streaked face toward Poe. “It’s possible I killed his brother,” she admitted coolly, “but I don’t remember.” She straightened to her full height, easily just shy of two meters, her eyes roaming over the gathered crowd. “It’s possible that I killed all of your brothers. And cousins. And mothers and fathers and former lovers.” Her voice was flat and unforgiving. “It was my job.”
“Then why are you here?” Poe asked, voice calm, curious but not accusing.
Teza focused back on Poe, looking mildly surprised. “Because it was wrong,” she said simply. “But I didn’t know it at the time.”
“You were young and ambitious,” Poe said, taking a guess, “so you joined the Empire.”
His conjecture was rewarded with a startled nod. “Mostly hungry,” she murmured, “but yes.”
“You joined the Empire,” Poe said, eyes roving the room before resting on Wedge, “just like you.”
The older man blinked but didn’t hesitate. “It’s no secret I attended Skystrike Academy,” he said, spreading his hands. “But I left once I realized what the Empire was doing.”
Poe gave him a knowing nod and turned to Zay. “And your mother,” he said.
“My mother was an Imperial officer,” Zay said quietly. “But she defected. She and my father. They died for the Resistance. Ask Leia. She knows.”
“Suralinda?” Poe called, raising his voice slightly. Suralinda was sitting on a bench watching the scene before her with glittering eyes, no doubt taking mental notes for another story. “I didn’t give a care about either side much,” she admitted breezily. “I was ready to sell Resistance secrets if it would get me what I wanted. Oh wait, I did.” She laughed at the stunned faces around her. “Relax,” she said. “I came around.”
Poe smiled tightly and tried not to think about yelling at her to choose her words with a bit more care, but she had made his point.
“And you?” Poe asked, turning lastly to Finn, who had been idling in the background next to Rey.
Finn stepped forward immediately. “Used to be a stormtrooper, but now I’m rebel scum,” he said, pressing a fist over his heart. “Until the end.”
“My point,” Poe said, turning back to Agoyo, “is that many of us have dubious beginnings, but it is how we end that counts.”
“My father was Darth Vader,” Leia said, pitching her voice so that it rang out clearly through the room. “Is there anyone who wants to question my loyalty to the Resistance?”
The room was wisely silent. Poe nodded his thanks, and she returned it before stepping back.
“Now, is there anyone else with a grudge that needs airing? Something that’s bothering them? Someone in this room that they can’t wait to knife once their back is turned?” He got a few laughs at that, as he had meant to, and the tension lessened a bit. He waited a moment longer until it looked like no one was going to speak, started to pass the floor to Leia when a new voice called out from the crowd.
“I got a question.”
Poe bit his lip to keep himself from cursing. It was one of the old rebel pilots, someone Wedge had found from the original Phantom Squadron. He resembled a human, but his skin was a dusty gray and his pate was hairless, either by genetics or by design. Poe didn’t know him, but he knew his type immediately. The way he stood, legs planted wide, shoulders squared from carrying that chip around. He was going to be a pain in the ass, but he also looked like someone the other pilots would follow. Poe had a feeling he needed him on their side, troublemaker or not.
“Go on,” he prompted.
The veteran pointed a finger at Poe. “What about you?”
“What about me?”
“I heard the stories,” the man said. “About what happened on the Raddus. To Holdo.” The man thumped his chest. “I fought with Holdo. She was a good leader.”
Poe felt queasy. Panic fluttered in his chest, and his hands felt clammy. Some small voice inside screamed that he was caught, that his worst nightmare was coming true. Part of him wanted to hide, to shrink back and let someone else handle it before he royally screwed it all up again, but Maz’s admonition rang in his head. Was he a leader or not? Was all his talk about giving his blood, sweat, and tears to the survival of the Resistance just that? Or did he mean it?
He made himself breathe deeply and then exhale. He met the man’s accusing gaze head-on.
“I agree,” Poe said simply.
“You agree?” the veteran sneered. He propped massive hands on his hips. “That’s not what I heard, Poe Dameron. That’s not what any of us heard…”
- Hardcover Book
- Roanhorse, Rebecca (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 320 Pages - 11/05/2019 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)