Doctor Aphra returns! Hot on the trail of High Republic-era, Nihil hyperdrive technology, Aphra and Sana arrive on a jungle planet in the Outer Rim. Hoping to get a hold of this technology for the Tagge family to absolve her “debt”, Aphra recruited Sana. Many others in the galaxy are after it as well, since it’s rumored to be capable of things present-day hyperdrive tech cannot do. Unfortunately, Sana’s partner, Remy, informed a rather nasty organization called The Unbroken Clan about the whereabouts of the Nihil engine, so they won’t be alone for long.
After receiving a tip at a local watering hole, Aphra and Sana head out into the jungle of Dol’har Hyde. We haven’t reached this point in the High Republic stories, it looks like this was the site of a massive Nihil battle. Ships of all sorts are scattered across the planet so if you’re reading those stories, make sure to bookmark this planet as significant. We’re only seeing the wreckage, but Aphra recognizes the Nihil battleship right away. Remy claimed to have retrieved and sold a Nihil hyperdrive to ship baron and Tagge rival Beol De’rruyet, but they suspect he’s lying due to the state of the wreckage. They carefully begin climbing down when Aphra’s harness breaks and she falls to the bottom with Sana in pursuit.
They’ve landed in the bridge but it doesn’t look good. The planet has taken over all the ships and this Nihil battleship wasn’t spared the dense network of roots and vines. This doesn’t deter Aphra though and she believes there’s more to this wreckage than Remy claimed and Sana presumes. With her trusty laser scalpel, Aphra gets to work dissecting what’s left of the Nihil bridge.
Meanwhile, on Canto Bight, Just Lucky is doing what he does best, a bit of sharpshooting. This particular target, a loanshark who puts those in his debt into indentured servitude, is one Lucky takes pleasure in. Hired in the previous issue by criminal organization the Sixth Kin, Lucky has no qualms taking money from monsters to destroy other monsters. He’s seen the hold the rich of Canto Bight can put on those less fortunate, just like his brother.
When Just Lucky returns to check in with Sixth Kin and finds an old acquaintance, Ariole Yu. Yu seems to be the one who roughed up Lucky’s younger brother and it’s implied there may have been a relationship between he and Lucky at some point. Lucky suspects Sixth Kin may have been a conduit for Yu to get back into his life. He’s quickly informed the organization’s leader, Wen Delphis, wants to see them both and neither of them know why. And they both seem to have a bad feeling about it. I imagine Sixth Kin is about to join the hunt for Nihil artifacts.
As Aphra digs deeper into the ruins, she and Sana dig deeper in their arguing. Sana invokes Tolvan and accuses Aphra of treating everyone in her life as disposable. Aphra selflessly walked away from Tolvan because she knew at this point in her life she wasn’t ready, so she takes issue with Sana saying these things. From Sana’s perspective, this is entirely true, as they were once lovers and Aphra left her. There are definitely unresolved feelings and a lot of tension there and I’m here for it. Personal issues aside, Aphra is able to bring the Nihil bridge online. They quickly learn the type of tech De’rruyet has promised the galaxy is not what the Nihil used. Aphra believes De’rruyet doesn’t understand what he has in his possession and if he tries to use it the engine will literally blow up in his face. As she proposes to Sana they try to sell their knowledge to him, the Unbroken Clan arrive.
General Vukorah and her minions have a very unpleasant interrogation planned for Aphra and Sana. People from across the galaxy are drawn to the possibility of this Nihil tech because it will give them power. Vukorah is no different and will likely use it just as the Nihil did, to raise hell and prey on the vulnerable. Also, the Empire will probably pay a mighty price for it and I’m honestly surprised old Sheev doesn’t have probe droids searching the galaxy for it already.
“I think we took a wrong turn“. Aphra and Sana are stuck as the Unbroken Clan ships descend. There aren’t many options and Sana has been badly cut by shrapnel. It turns out the Unbroken Clan tortured and killed everyone in the little watering hole which led Aphra and Sana to the Nihil ship. Aphra fakes a surrender, while motioning to Sana they need to go further down into the cave to escape.
One more time, Sana puts her trust in Aphra and they launch themselves into the darkness. Just as they do, the Unbroken Clan unleashes their blasters, turning the Nihil ship into a fireball which tumbles down with Aphra and Sana. General Vukorah assumes they are dead and departs for another lead on where the hyperdrive might be. The fate of Sana and Aphra is left uncertain…though when characters enter caves in Star Wars, magical transformation is imminent. Should be interesting to see what these two former lovers discover about themselves and the Nihil in the next issue.
While nothing too earth moving happened in this issue, writer Alyssa Wong continues to delight me with her writing. Doctor Aphra is in great hands with Wong and I’m loving the connective tissue she’s weaving into the High Republic stories. Reuniting Aphra with Sana is a great choice and I feel like we are in for some significant character development. Not that Aphra’s remained static in her journey but I’m really excited we might finally see the path to that happy ending many of us have been cheering for. And we heard Tolvan’s name, too! Lots of promising threads are dangling so we shall see.