Cavan Scott returns to his character creation, Velko Jahen, now with both feet in her job and pushing her limits. Past Mistakes occurs after the attack on the Republic Fair on Valo. The Starlight Beacon is the headquarters for many counterstrikes against the Nihil, and Velko has been working non-stop as Starlight has become a holding point for Nihil prisoners of war. Velko is feeling the weight of her job and is second-guessing her decision of taking a position on Starlight. And her world gets crazier when Ghal Tarpfen sends her to stop a fracas which turns out to be between Jedi Master Sskeer and an old friend, Vane Sarpo.
**Full spoilers for Past Mistakes**
The Velko and Vane Story
A benefit of well-planned storytelling is that all the reoccurring characters in the High Republic seem consistent. Sskeer is different from the other Jedi and more susceptible to giving in to his emotions. A massive force like Sskeer versus Vane makes for great banter, but it is also a gateway to more backstory. Sarpo and Velko fought together during the civil war on her homeworld, Vane working as a mercenary. And Vane was much more than a friend to Velko. The former mercenary is now selling Jedi merchandise on Starlight because even Star Wars has to be meta now. The pitch is that patrons are excited to come to Starlight not to see the station itself but the Jedi. It is a good fake-out for what is actually happening, but we’ll get to that later.
Vane is also a Vuman, which is the laziest species name I think I’ve heard in Star Wars. He works the operation with his skittish colleague, Crune, an insectoid species called a Peasle. Vumans are humans with face markings, and Peasles are tick-like creatures that I never need to see in live-action.
Vane appears charming enough as he and Velko reconnect at a Starlight bar. The setting and tone are better in this short, and Starlight Beacon feels like a real place in this story more than most High Republic content (though Justina Ireland also does a great job describing Starlight through Jedi eyes in Out of the Shadows). The first part lives in setup and is mostly character building, ending on a cliffhanger when Sskeer and Velko discover that under those crates of merchandise are blasters meant for the Nihil. Ouch.
In complete shock, Velko tries to make sense of the situation by directly confronting Vane and demanding answers. When Vane unleashes on her and the Jedi being the problem in the galaxy, not the Nihil, Sskeer’s Jedi senses alert him to something more sinister, and he senses Vane is afraid. It turns out the little, timid insect Crune is the mastermind behind the operation and has laced Vane’s face tattoos with something that can detonate but doesn’t (it is not clear in the writing of the action what is happening). Crune has used her size and the assumption that she is not intimidating to her advantage to get her detonator bracelet past security. When things look dire as Crune has freed the other Nihil, Vane saves the day, and Sskeer intimidates the Nihil to back down.
Past Mistakes resolves conflicts on multiple levels. After introducing a former lover that appears to have joined the Nihil, he saves the day. But he also inadvertently helps Velko realize that she still wants to be at Starlight Beacon, that she is doing good there. Velko also discovers that there is a major security blindspot on Starlight. All this is a good lesson for people not to underestimate the little person who seems harmless. Those are the ones that will stab you in the back and walk over your body on the way out the door.