Before the Awakening is an anthology book by Greg Rucka focusing on the lives of Finn, Rey, and Poe Dameron prior to the events of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. It was published by Disney–Lucasfilm Press on December 18, 2015. Intended for children ages eight to twelve, the book consists of 240 pages.
A companion piece to the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens character novels, Star Wars: Before the Awakening is an anthology book that focuses on the lives of Rey, Finn, and Poe before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The novel begins with a First Order stormtrooper simulation training. Finn, Nines, Zeroes, and Slip are assaulting a Republic-held base. Finn is still known as FN-2187. Slip has been pinned down in cover and appears to be trapped. Zeroes and Nines urge Finn to focus on their objective, leaving Slip behind. Finn orders the two others, Nines and Zeroes, to split up, making them draw enemy fire and allowing Finn to save Slip, as well as giving him an opening to make it all the way to the Republic base and finish off the last Republic soldiers with a devastating grenade.
Captain Phasma congratulates the squad on a job well done, before mentioning to Finn that he shouldn't help weaker cadets as it will only hurt the group. Finn starts having doubts and begins to feel separated from the group.
Later on, the trainees fight with vibro-axes and other melee weapons, some of which can even combat lightsabers. Slip is injured in the fighting, and when he goes up against Finn he is easily defeated. Finn doesn't hurt him, attempting rather to keep Slip safe from injury by someone else. Phasma again questions Finn's actions and orders him to stop.
Zeroes, Nines, and Slip are excited to learn that their suspicions were correct: they will soon be deployed to a mining colony located in an asteroid field known as Pressy's Tumble. According to Phasma, Republic agents were causing dissent and chaos in the mining operation. In reality, the mining negotiators had called a strike to protest the harsh working conditions. Phasma however orders her stormtroopers to execute the negotiators. Finn doesn't pull the trigger, and watches while his fellow stormtroopers kill the protesters. After returning to their ship, Finn participates in extra training simulations instead of celebrating with the others, and begins to feel even more distant.
Captain Phasma, preparing to welcome Kylo Ren onboard, decides to give Finn one last chance to prove himself on Jakku, giving him one last chance to become a real stormtrooper.
At the beginning of Rey's story, she is scavenging from an old battle cruiser when a large storm forces her to retreat into the old walker where she lives. We find out Rey has mastered a flight simulator she found, learning all the scenarios on many different ships.
The next morning, after selling parts for rations in Niima Outpost and watching a Hernon Class Light Freighter land, Rey rides far out into the desert on her speeder. She decides to climb the Spike, a keel line from an old star ship halfway buried in the middle of the desert. From the top of the Spike she manages to get a view of a crashed ship, which would be an incredibly valuable find to trade in to Unkar Plutt for more portions.
Even though she is running out of daylight, Rey decides to go to the ship to investigate. She discoveres it is a 690 light freighter, also known as a Ghtroc 690. Inside she finds food, and discovers that the reactor is still working. The ship is in good shape, but is still in need of a lot of repairs. Rey spends the night in her new ship since it is already dark.
Rey proceeds work on the ship for a long time by herself. In Niima, she runs into Devi and Strunk who ask her what she is building. They say they noticed she had been taking a lot of wiring and other supplies without re-selling them, and that they suspected she had been building something. She says she hasn't been, but they tell her they might not be the only ones who had taken notice.
Eventually, Devi and Strunk find her working on the ship. They offer to help her restore it. Rey doesn't want to, since it is hers, but she feels that she has no choice or else they would steal it or try to claim the finder's fee for themselves. To her surprise, they provide a huge amount of help. One night, when Rey is working late, a group of Teedos try to steal her ship but Devi and Strunk (who had been guarding the ship at nights) stop them.
Eventually, the group test flies the ship and determines that it is ready to sell. They fly the ship into Niima to sell it, and Rey triumphantly flies out on her Speeder to cheers from the other salvagers. When she tells Unkar she is here to sell her ship, Devi and Strunk fly the ship away, having always wanted to leave Jakku while Rey couldn't.
Poe's chapter opens with a flashback of Dameron reflecting on his decision to become a Starfighter pilot in the New Republic. As a child growing up in a colony on the jungle moon of Yavin 4, Poe had been raised on stories of his mother, Shara Bey, and father, Kes Dameron's, exploits during the Galactic Civil War. Years later, Poe is the Commander in Rapier Squadron, a four—member T-85 X-wing squadron in the Republic Navy. His long-time companion is the astromech droid BB-8, who accompanies him on routine patrol flights.
During a routine patrol in the Mirrin sector, Rapier Squadron responds to a distress call from the freighter Yissira Zyde near Suraz 4. They quickly discover the freighter being boarded by First Order stormtroopers. Rapier Squadron is quickly attacked by eight TIE fighters. During the Suraz engagement, Lieutenant Muran is killed when his starfighter is shot down. Later, Poe reports the skirmish to his commander Major Lonno Deso at the Mirrin Prime Republic Base. While Poe advocates tracking down the freighter, Major Deso overrules him since he is unwilling to provoke hostilities between the New Republic and the First Order.
Defying Major Deso's orders, Poe embarks on a solo mission to track down the Yissira Zyde with the secret approval of his fellow squadron pilots Lieutenants Karé Kun and Iolo Arana. After studying the cargo freighter's inventory, Dameron reasons that the First Order was interested in the ship's high-capacity charging arrays, which could be converted into military turbolasers. Poe managed to track the stolen freighter's coordinates to the remote OR-Kappa-2722 system where he also discovers a sizeable First Order fleet. Poe manages to locate the freighter in one of the Star Destroyers but is pursued by First Order TIE fighters.
Following a brief dogfight, Poe manages to flee into hyperspace and return to the Mirrin system. However, he is promptly detained by New Republic shore police led by Major Caluan Ematt. Poe is summoned for a meeting with General Leia Organa, the leader of the Resistance, a splinter faction of the New Republic military that monitors the activities of the First Order. General Leia convinces Poe to join the Resistance since the New Republic military is unwilling to take the threat of the First Order seriously. Poe and his remaining Rapier Squadron mates join the Resistance and are transferred to the refitted MC80 star cruiser Echo of Hope.
As a member of the Resistance, Poe is handpicked by General Leia for a covert mission called Operation: Sabre Strike to steal Senator Erudo Ro-Kiintor's luxury yacht Hevurion Grace. General Leia suspects Senator Ro-Kiinto of secretly colluding with the First Order but lacks hard evidence. She wants to seize the ship's computer in order to get to the bottom of the matter. Since the Resistance cannot officially be involved, Poe and his comrades Iolo and Kare disguise themselves as members of the Irving Boys, a criminal group. To conceal their identities, they don bulky EVA suits and fly three vintage Z-95 Headhunters.
Poe's plan involves intercepting the Hevurion Grace as the ship exits hyperspace in the Uvoss system. They have to commandeer the ship within eight minutes before a Republic patrol arrives. The operation proceeds according to plan and Poe manages to disable the yacht with two concussion missiles. Poe then boards the ship and forces Senator Ro-Kiintor and his crew to evacuate into the escape pods at gunpoint. While restarting the hijacked ship's engines, Poe and his fellow pilots come under attack from a First Order fleet that has emerged out of hyperspace. The Resistance members quickly deduce that Senator Ro-Kiintor had contacted the First Order for help.
Despite Poe ordering his comrades to jump into hyperspace, Iolo and Kare stay behind to fight off the First Order TIE fighters while Poe repairs the yacht's engines. Together, the Resistance fighters managed to destroy nine of the eighteen TIEs. However, they are soon trapped between the gas giant and two First Order Star Destroyers and a Nebulon-K frigate. To avoid being sucked into the gas giant, Poe and his comrades decide to brave the First Order warships and then make a jump into hyperspace. Following a risky maneuver, the three pilots managed to flee into hyperspace with the Hevurion Grace.
Back at the Echo of Hope, General Leia congratulates Poe and his squadron mates for their bravery and success in capturing the Hevurion Grace. The operation confirms Senator Ro-Kiintor's treason and dealings with the First Order. Leia fears that there are more traitors in the New Republic government like him and that the threat of the First Order is growing. While examining the ship's computers, C-3PO discovers a piece of a puzzle that is relevant to something involving Leia's ongoing quest to find her brother Luke Skywalker. She sends Poe on a mission to find Lor San Tekka, a man who can help them find Luke.
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