LucasFilm's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story introduced us to a number of beloved characters whose bravery had gone untold until this spin-off shined a light on their mission to steal the Death Star plans from the Empire. Two of the most unique and beloved characters were the blind warrior Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and his protector Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), who were revealed to be former Guardians of the Whills in a brief scene in that movie. A new Star Wars novel debuted today entitled Star Wars Guardians of the Whills, written by Greg Rucka, which sheds some light on their origin story, and in case you haven't picked up the book yet, an exclusive excerpt has just been revealed.
Entertainment Weekly has been provided with a preview from Star Wars Guardians of the Whills, which takes place long before the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In Rogue One both Chirrut and Baze had left the Guardians behind, but in this story, Chirrut is still a Guardian, although his longtime friend Baze has left his post. They both work together to fend off holy city of Jedha from the Empire. Here's the first part of the novel excerpt.
"The reason the Imperials garrisoned their troops aboard the Star Destroyer was for security, nothing more. A garrison on the ground gave any insurgency a possible target; a garrison floating in orbit was untouchable, a sign that opposition to the Empire was futile, and doomed to ultimate failure. But this created its own set of problems. Troops on deployment needed to be supplied. They needed water, and water was in short supply on Jedha. They needed food, and local food could be poisoned, could be tainted, or could simply be inedible. They needed medical supplies to tend their wounded, be those wounds courtesy of the fledgling and scattered-and, many said, highly ineffective-insurgency or any of a myriad of other hazards. They needed ammunition, because a stormtrooper whose blaster ran dry was as useful as another kilogram of sand in the Jedha desert. This meant that the Empire needed supply caches throughout the Holy City, secured locations that could serve as depots to reequip and rearm troopers on patrol. Thus, the Empire had exchanged one obvious target-a garrison-for multiple smaller ones, with the logic being that the loss of an occasional cache was insignificant in the face of the continued existence of the larger Imperial presence. The Zeta that Baze watched land was on a resupply run for these caches, or so Denic, Baze's contact, had assured him. The information hadn't been given out of the goodness of Denic's heart. She'd made it very clear that should any of the resupply cargo, say, fall off the back of a speeder, she expected a cut. Specifically, she wanted any weapons and ammunition that might be recovered. This was fine by Baze. Weapons and ammunition weren't what he and Chirrut were after."
While he is not featured in this excerpt, the novel also features another important Rogue One character, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), a Rebel who wants to take down the alliance. He joins forces with Chirrut and Baze to save the people of Jedha in this new novel. Here's the next portion of this lengthy novel excerpt.
"He waited until Chirrut was off the roof and down on the street before moving himself. Baze was a big man, a strong man, but he knew how to move himself with speed when needed, and with purpose at every moment. While Chirrut's movements had flow, Baze's had direction. He vaulted from rooftop to rooftop, clearing one block and then the next, pausing only for an instant to check on the progress of the resupply. The Imperials had loaded the cargo crates onto the back of an armored landspeeder, a contingent of five Stormtroopers responsible for its security. One had the driver's yoke, with another crewing the mounted repeating blaster; the remaining three rode outboard, weapons at the ready, keeping watch. Baze reached the edge of another rooftop and leapt without breaking stride, this time not to the roof of the adjacent building but instead down to the street. He landed heavy and hard, felt the ground stab back at him, sending pain through his legs to his knees. There had been a time when such a jump wouldn't have given him even the slightest discomfort. There had been a time when he had called himself a Guardian of the Whills, and others had, too. There had been a time when his faith in the Force had been as unshakable and constant as Chirrut's. He had been a younger man, then. He drew himself back up to his full height and checked the E-5 in his hands. He'd modified the weapon himself, trying to draw more power from it, and his efforts had been successful enough that even a glancing shot from the carbine would send a stormtrooper to the ground, and a direct hit could punch a hole through armor and the soldier within it. The trade-off had come in two parts. The first was its ammo capacity. The weapon ate charges, and ate them quickly. The second was that there was no longer a stun setting. There was a time when this would have bothered him. He had been a younger man, then, too. These were Imperials, these were the people who had destroyed his city, his home. These were Imperials, who had taken that which was beautiful and made it profane, and it didn't matter if Baze Malbus still believed or not; it mattered to him that others did, and he saw the pain the Imperials caused every single day. He saw it in friends and strangers. He saw it in hungry children in the streets, and hiding beneath the smile of Chirrut Îmwe."
In Star Wars lore, the Journal of the Whills was a recording of all the events that took place throughout the galaxy that was compiled by the Ancient Order of the Whills. While we have never seen the Journal of the Whills in any of the movies, The Journal was mentioned in the novelization for A New Hope, while the Star Wars: The Force Awakens novelization opens with a quote from the Journal. Here's the final excerpt from this new novel.
"It made him angry, but there was still enough Guardian of the Whills in him that he did not want to kill in anger. His balance had been lost long ago, and whether or not the Force was still truly with him, Baze knew that he was no longer with the Force. But he would not kill in anger, not if he could at all help it. The Imperials made it very hard to commit to that, sometimes. He drew himself back into the shadows, beneath the covered alleyway between two buildings. He could hear the speeder slowly coming closer, but that was only part of what he was listening for. Then he heard it: the regular beat of Chirrut's walking stick against the road, the tap-tap-tap of the uneti wood striking stone. The speeder lumbered into the street on Baze's right, swaying slightly beneath its load. He pressed himself farther into the shadows, willed himself into stillness as the vehicle passed by. The whine from its engines drowned out the sound of Chirrut's approach, but Baze barely had time to worry before he heard the pitch on the speeder change, the repulsors quieting to an idle. He slid from the alley, looking down the street, and now he was behind the vehicle, and he could see the stormtroopers aboard all facing front, even the one posted at the rear whose job it was to watch their backs. Chirrut stood in front of the speeder, in the middle of the road. Baze could hear the stormtroopers. 'What's the holdup?' 'The guy's blind.' 'Move. Move or we'll run you down, citizen.' 'My apologies, my apologies,' Chirrut said. He bent out of view, apparently searching the ground in front of him. 'My stick, I seem to have dropped it. You surprised me, you are on the street so late.' Baze settled the E-5 at his shoulder, exhaled half his air through his nose. The stormtrooper on the mounted gun ran the charger, the clack and whine of the weapon being made ready audible even from where Baze stood. 'Insurgent tricks,' the gunner said. He pivoted the weapon down at Chirrut. Baze fired four times. Four stormtroopers dropped. He sighted on the last, but Chirrut had already moved, had done something with the recovered walking stick, and the last trooper was falling off the side of the speeder. Baze closed the distance at a run, vaulting into the speeder to find Chirrut sitting at the control yoke. 'Shall I drive?' Chirrut asked."
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a massive box office hit, with its $532.1 million domestic take making it the highest-grossing movie of 2016, although its $1.05 billion worldwide take came in just under the worldwide winner for 2016, Captain America: Civil War, which earned $1.15 billion. LucasFilm will release Star Wars: The Last Jedi this December, followed by Han Solo: A Star Wars Story next May.