tar Wars and the holidays go way back. From the original Holiday Special and the ‘Christmas in the Stars’ album to recent years’ December film releases, our favorite saga and our annual celebrations of family, hope, and renewal seem to hand in hand. It was probably only a matter of time before someone (correctly) decided that what our universe needed was storytelling focusing on Life Day and other wintertime celebrations in the galaxy far, far away.
Fortunately for us, that someone was Cavan Scott. And as if that weren’t enough to inspire Life Day cheer among Star Wars readers, he’s teamed up with friend and collaborator George Mann as well as artist Grant Griffin. Their Life Day Treasury: Holiday Stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away is in the same style as Mann’s Myths & Fables and Dark Legends, presenting eight short stories from different times and places around the galaxy. Previous glimpses of the project revealed Master Stellan Gios in a wintry High-Republic-era cityscape and Ewoks in the snow (because a holiday-themed Star Wars collection that didn’t have Ewoks in the snow would have been a missed opportunity).
In an exclusive excerpt from StarWars.com, we get another sneak peek of the treasury’s gems as we find ourselves witness to an unexpected reunion between old friends:
The war with the Empire was unceasing.
It had raged across star systems, ravaged entire worlds. It had seen flotillas blasted into nothing, and his home — and all the people he loved — reduced to dust. The void where Alderaan had once been was like the vacant space in his chest where his heart had lived. It had died that day, withered by grief such as the universe had never known, and now Rel was just an empty shell, an echo of the man he had once been.
In the aftermath, he had allowed that void to fill with anger, so hot and fiery that it threatened to burn him up. He hadn’t known what to do, walking around in a daze for days, weeks, hearing nothing but the buzzing in his own ears, seeing nothing but his mother’s smiling face as she called him in from the snow, just as she had when he was a child. Even the work he was doing felt empty, like it wasn’t enough — as if this tiny act of rebellion, helping those disenfranchised by the Empire — was worthless in the face of such overwhelming evil. He’d realized he was searching for a new purpose, a way to make more of a difference.
It was around that time when he had been recruited by a man named Oliphan Dairo, who had seen that anger within Rel and taught him to channel it, to wield it as a force for good. So it was that Rel had taken up with the Rebel Alliance, trained in the use of a weapon, and fought countless campaigns across countless worlds.
Now, on a blasted moon called Shard on the Outer Rim, he was shivering against the frigid cold, pressed up behind a huge block of sheer ice, peering out across the enemy entrenchments.
The battle, like the war, seemed without end. For weeks neither side had gained ground, and as the snowdrifts deepened and the days grew ever shorter, both the stormtroopers and the rebels were digging in. The Imperials had even erected a temporary base, and it was this that Rel and his partner, Fila, had been sent to scout.
Fila had been shot two days earlier by a sniper, and Rel hadn’t even been able to go to her side as she died, cold and alone in the dirty snow. Nevertheless, he still had a mission to complete. Otherwise her sacrifice would be for nothing.
The scuff of a boot alerted him to movement, and he peered carefully around the edge of the ice rock. A stormtrooper, dressed in pristine white armor and carrying a blaster, was patrolling the perimeter of their makeshift base.
Slowly, Rel maneuvered his own blaster into place, sighting along the barrel. His finger brushed against the trigger. He drew a breath, and then . . .
. . . stopped.
The stormtrooper was humming.
Rel’s mouth was suddenly dry. The tune was familiar, seared into his memory. It reminded him of . . . home.
Breathing raggedly, he sank back behind the ice rock. How could it be? A stormtrooper . . . from Alderaan?
The humming continued, growing louder. And then a voice floated out over the frozen wasteland:
“To banish ills and gloom and fear . . . and keep your loved ones close and near. For Winter’s Heart would have us see . . .”
“The true heart of winter . . . is you and me,” sang Rel, unable to stop himself. He rose slowly from his hiding place, lifting his hands above his head.
The stormtrooper wheeled on the spot, blaster raised, eyes locked with Rel’s — or at least Rel presumed so, but couldn’t be sure given the black-eyed helmet.
For a moment neither of them moved. Rel closed his eyes and awaited the killing shot. He’d made a terrible mistake. How could he have been so stupid?
“Rel?” The man’s voice was incredulous. “Rel?” Slowly, Rel opened his eyes. The stormtrooper had lowered his blaster. He reached up and removed his helmet.
For the first time in years, the two friends stood facing one another. The battlefield between them felt like a vast gulf that had suddenly opened up and was threatening to swallow them whole. How could it be? Here, of all places.
You can read the full excerpt exclusively on StarWars.com.
Life Day Treasury: Holiday Stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away arrives on September 7. You can view our complete Book Profile for more details and get a head start on your own Life Day shopping by pre-ordering your copy now.
For a complete list of recent and upcoming Star Wars book and comic releases, visit our regularly updated Release Schedule.