Force Exile I: Fugitive is the first novel and overall story in the Force Exile Series written by Atarumaster88. Set during the final days of the Clone Wars and the aftermath of Operation: Knightfall, the novel begins the story of fugitive Jedi Padawan Selusda Kraen and the crew of the Hawk-bat.
Welcome, my friend, to a galaxy far, far away. Enter the realm of Jedi and bounty hunters, soldiers and droids, rulers and beggars, aliens and humans. From Stackpole’s Corellians to Traviss's Mandalorians, immerse yourself in a universe with the exotica of Zahn, the wit of Allston, the grimness of Stover, the daring of Ostrander, the imagery of Luceno, the detail of Wallace, and most importantly, the vision of George Lucas, to whom we owe it all. And if you listen close enough, you’ll hear the sweet sounds of John Williams’ score in the background. Welcome to Star Wars.
Sheets of rain slashed down through the Coruscant night. Howling currents of wind whistled through the myriad starscrapers, causing passersby of various species to seek the shelter of overhangs or buildings. The clouds loomed over the megalopolis, as if the sky was seeking to vent its wrath on the populace.
Lying on a stained, slick slab of duracrete, oblivious to the pounding rain, was a young human male. His singed clothes and tattered appearance spoke of violence and chaos. Gasping for breath, drenched with rain, sweat, and tears, he lay on the slab trying to absorb all that had happened to him within the last few hours, trying to comprehend the destruction of all he held dear, trying to realize that everyone he had considered family was dead, and trying to determine what to do next, now that he was public enemy #1 as the cylindrical silver object belted to his waist marked him as a Jedi Knight, the millennia-old order now declared an enemy of galactic civilization.
Jedi Padawan Selusda Kraen, a teenaged Human apprenticed to Master Plo Koon, and Alpha-28, an ARC trooper who goes by the name "Spectre", are both fighting for the Republic on Boz Pity near the end of the Clone Wars. However, even as they endure the horror of the Clone Wars, little do either of them know of the explosive ending to the war, the Republic, and the Jedi Order being planned by the Dark Lords of the Sith. In their own way, Selu and Spectre must both face and fight to survive against the grim reality of Order 66, and the rise of the New Order.
- Alpha-28 “Spectre”, ARC trooper, Grand Army of the Republic
- CC-3433 “Trip”, Clone Commander, Grand Army of the Republic
- Bairdon Jace, Jedi Knight
- Serra Keto, Jedi Knight
- Plo Koon, Jedi Master
- Selusda Kraen, Jedi Padawan
- Skip, Jedi Padawan
- Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight
- Jorgesoll Knrr, crewmember
- Sarth Kraen, crewmember
- R’hask Sei’lar, ship captain
- Cassi Trealus, crewmember
The book opens at the start of the Battle of Boz Pity in 19 BBY, near the end of the Clone Wars, where Selusda Kraen, the Padawan of Jedi Master Plo Koon, fights in the Galactic Republic assault against the Separatist positions over the world of Boz Pity. The Republic and Confederacy at war for three years, sparked by the secession of thousands of worlds from the Republic. Selu is shot down and he crashes in a remote location on Boz Pity. Plo Koon, concerned for the safety of his apprentice, dispatches an ARC trooper, Alpha-28, henceforth known as Spectre, to retrieve Selusda—usually referred to as Selu. After several days' journey, Spectre locates Selu and the two return to a small Republic outpost. Selu develops a friendship with Spectre over the next several days, but just as the Padawan leaves to rejoin his master, the outpost is attacked. Selu assists as Spectre leads a desperate defense, but the ARC is badly wounded. As the greater Battle of Boz Pity winds down, Selu is met by Plo Koon, who takes him back to Coruscant to continue his training.
At the Jedi Temple, Selu is reunited with his friend Serra Keto, who has already become a Jedi Knight. As a talented lightsaber duelist, Serra's skill reminds Selu of his shortcomings. He grows increasingly frustrated with his apparent lack of progress, but his friends—Keto, a Human male named Bairdon Jace and a Tynnan Padawan named Skip, help him in his quest. Eventually, Selu takes the Jedi trials and confronts a dark side spirit. Succeeding in his trial, Selu is promoted to the rank of Jedi Knight.
However, while Selu is on Coruscant, Separatist General Grievous attacks Coruscant and Selu joins the planet's hasty defense in a starfighter for hours until he is again shot down. He continues the fight on the ground with the aid of Republic soldiers, but is severely injured in the process. Rescued by a group of Republic senators, he is taken to the Jedi Temple to recover as the Separatist forces eventually withdraw.
Meanwhile, Spectre has recovered and is on Tellanroaeg, an Outer Rim battleground. Assigned a lone reconnaissance mission, he successfully spots air strikes on a Separatist column. Pinned down, he too is injured while trying to hold off droid patrols until support arrives. Once he recovers, he is assigned by his commander, CC-3433 "Trip", to train a militia out of local inhabitants to augment the Republic forces and they acquit themselves well in the defense against a droid attack.
Back on Coruscant, Selu convalesces. Before his next assignment, the Jedi Temple falls under attack from clone troopers, led by the fallen Anakin Skywalker, who betrayed the Jedi and became the Sith Lord Darth Vader. In the fighting, Skip falls to clone fire. Realizing there is nothing else he can do, Selu begins fleeing the temple. During his flight, he finds Serra Keto mortally wounded. She then admits that she loves Selu; a feeling Selu has long reciprocated but never vocalized due to Jedi restrictions on attachment. They share a kiss, but Serra succumbs to her injuries. Grief-stricken, Selu runs from the Jedi Temple.
Wandering through Coruscant, Selu eventually collapses from exhaustion several kilometers from the burning Jedi Temple, but is soon discovered by his biological brother, Sarth Kraen, who recognizes Selu. Sarth, an engineer on a freighter, takes his wounded and heart-stricken brother back to his own residence. Selu is despondent for several days, but Sarth tells him he can start a new life, offering to ask his employer, a Bothan named R'hask Sei'lar, about hiring Selu as a pilot on his ship, the Hawk-bat. Before Sei'lar returns, Sarth is kidnapped by a pair of mysterious attackers. Selu catches up to the kidnappers after a harrowing speeder chase and dispatches both of them, uncovering their identities as Mistryl Shadow Guards, who have been after Sarth ever since his groundbreaking research into Separatist droideka combat droids.
On Tellanroaeg, Spectre sees a Jedi Knight slain by clone troopers. He demands an explanation and is informed that Order 66, a contingency order that called for the elimination of the Jedi, has been implemented. Spectre confronts his commanding officer and verifies the order, but Trip chides him for questioning his commands. In response, Trip sends Spectre on a risky reconnaissance of the Separatist stronghold. He finds it surprisingly empty—the droids are all deactivated—and he clears out the remaining Geonosian and Neimodian personnel. He reports his success to Trip, who tells him that the droid armies have been shut down around the galaxy; the war is over. Spectre is relieved to hear that, but knows that his earlier comments and actions regarding the Jedi will affect his military career. He returns to the main Republic base, but is horrified when the headquarters explodes. Racing into the burning building, he saves several trapped people, including Trip. He is commended for his actions and immediately investigates the bombing, tricking an embittered militiaman into revealing his guilt.
On Coruscant, Selu meets with R'hask Sei'lar and his first mate, Jorgesoll Knrr, who hire him. Also at that time, the ship's new cargomaster, a Human woman from Bakura named Cassi Trealus is introduced to the crew. The Hawk-bat journeys to Bespin and the crew makes a windfall on a cargo of textiles from Coruscant. At a celebratory dinner, Sarth indicates his attraction to Cassi to Selu and in return Selu arranges for Sarth to dance with her. Though he has only recently met the crew of the Hawk-bat and they don't know his true identity, Selu feels welcomed among them.
On their next cargo run to Corellia, the Hawk-bat is attacked by pirates, but the crew is able to fend them off with hidden weaponry. The Corellian Security Force investigates the incident, and the crew are subsequently questioned by Agent Hal Horn. The investigation is short-lived, and Selu continues to ply the spacelanes with his new companions on the Hawk-bat, feeling that he has found a new community to share.
Behind the scenes
Force Exile I: Fugitive was released in July 2007 as the first entry in the Force Exile Series and is the earliest of any novel in the series with regards to in-universe chronology. At approximately 58,500 words at its initial release, it is the shortest of the Force Exile novels. Fugitive is one of three novels in the series to be set in the Imperial era and the only one that takes place during the prequel trilogy. The novel was reworked from late 2011 into early 2012 with a full re-release in February 2012. The released version contained improvements to dialogue, description, and wording, as well as a revamped article layout. This second release weighed in at approximately 57,000 words.
Force Exile I: Fugitive was the culmination of years of work on a fan-fiction storyline by Atarumaster88. The seeds of this storyline stemmed from a free-form RPG that Atarumaster88 had participated in years prior with his brother, where a cyborg assassin named "Morged Kellner" had helped reunite an outlaw engineer named Sarth Kraen and his long-lost Jedi brother "Luzdando." When Atarumaster88 decided to write fanon based on this story, he centered the work around Sarth and his Jedi brother, though in one draft Sarth was listed as the brother of another character. Work on developing and expanding this storyline originally began in August 2006 on Wookieepedia and was expanded gradually. Only a few elements from that original draft were retained in Force Exile I: Fugitive, including the protagonists' apprenticeship to Plo Koon and his participation in the Battle of Boz Pity and the Battle of Coruscant shown in Revenge of the Sith. Another element present in the original draft was the presence of an ARC trooper and the protagonist joining the crew of a freighter called the Hawk-Bat. This original draft also established the protagonist's preferred saber form, skill set, and Force powers, along with his eidetic memory.
Eventually, as Atarumaster88 realized that his project did not belong on Wookieepedia, he decided to move it to the Star Wars Fanon Wiki, but chose to write his story in novel form instead of the far more common article format. The storyboarding and plot of Force Exile I underwent several iterations prior to being fully completed. The current edition is the fourth layout. The third version of the story included many events actually depicted in Force Exile II and did not include the pirate attack or any scenes on Tellanroaeg. Spectre's role in the series was originally much smaller, but the author felt that only having Selu's storyline would be less interesting and too one-dimensional. As a result, Spectre's position in the storyline was expanded considerably.
The novel was written over a little over three months and underwent numerous changes both during the writing process and after release. An earlier draft had a scene on Boz Pity where Selu Kraen led an attack on the Separatist airbase that launched the gunship raid, but was removed as it was too Mary-Sueish and detracted from the situation. Kal Skirata and Etain Tur-Mukan were also originally set to be in Force Exile I: Fugitive, but were pulled due to the author’s concerns about conflicting with possible official storylines to be written by Karen Traviss. Their place was taken by the Mistryl storyline. The idea of a reconnaissance/raid was later used by Spectre on Tellanraoeg. Padmé Amidala was supposed to receive Selu’s message of thanks via C-3PO, but the author cut that scene as he felt it would distract from the suspense and drama of Order 66. Force Exile I: Fugitive was always intended to be understandable to anyone who had seen the prequel trilogy and so more descriptive detail was added after a post-release critique revealed that parts of it were still too vague. Another post-release critique pointed out the incongruity of including a vision of Darth Maul when Selu would not recognize or attach such importance to the character. Based on a suggestion from the reader, the vision was altered to include Asajj Ventress instead. Further modifications were made to the novel post-launch after the author re-read Labyrinth of Evil and needed to make adjustments to a Battle of Coruscant scene.
As is common in Force Exile stories, Atarumaster88 used a number of references to both canonical works and other media. Force Exile I references a number of canonical works. Notable mentions are Labyrinth of Evil, Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, The Cestus Deception, Star Wars: Deception, and of course, Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith. All of the Force Exile books open on an Imperial or Republic Star Destroyer, just like the original trilogy and Zahn’s novels. The mention of losing a prisoner in a similar situation due to an aerial attack is a reference to Jango Fett’s slaying of Zam Wessell in Attack of the Clones. The individual whose parents worked at the Jedi Temple and were fired after their daughter was accepted for training is implied to be the parents of Lorana Jinzler, as described in Outbound Flight and Survivor's Quest. The Sullustan tailor on Bespin is meant to be the same tailor who appears on the Errant Venture in I, Jedi. R’hask Sei’lar and Jorgesoll Knrr are a rough reversal of the roles of Han Solo and Chewbacca. The name Jorgesoll Knrr is partially derived from George Lucas and Irwin Kershner, the director of The Empire Strikes Back. The names of “Sarth” and “Selu” are a nod to the alliteration between “Luke” and “Leia” as well as “Jacen” and “Jaina”. The Ynr family mentioned in the final segment is meant to be the parents of Rhysati Ynr from X-wing: Rogue Squadron. The mention of Aubrie Wyn is a nod to the likeness originally intended for Milya in Force Exile II: Smuggler.
Outside of canon, Spectre is the name of the player’s character in Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries. The Tynnan Jedi Skip was inspired by the Redwall books and specifically the character Skipper. Selu's inability to feel his legs after the Battle of Coruscant is a reference to the movie Major Payne, where a character has the line "I can't feel my legs" attributed to him. The line of "I love the smell of burnt droid in the morning," is a reference to the Vietnam War movie Apocalypse Now, where a character states "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." Selu’s line “Such a pretty face, but oh, so stubborn,” is borrowed from a video cutscene in the computer game Command & Conquer: Red Alert.
Recognition and reception
In February 2008, Force Exile I: Fugitive was voted "Best Novel" in the Star Wars Fanon Third Wiki Awards. It was nominated for featured work in November 2008 and was awarded that status in January 2009. The novel was featured on the main page in February 2009.
The cover for Fugitive was designed by Solus using images provided by the author. The cover features, from left to right and from top to bottom, the characters Plo Koon, Anakin Skywalker, Serra Keto, Spectre, and Selusda Kraen. The original cover had the same characters, but in a different arrangement and style. It also employed a video game screenshot for Serra Keto and art from Star Wars Insider 84 for Spectre. In the new cover released in March 2009, Serra Keto is portrayed by an altered image of actress Navi Rawat, while the image used for Spectre is from a picture of a cosplayer dressed as an ARC.
This work aims to not conflict with canon, as established by Lucasfilm, Ltd. As with all Force Exile works, all terms copyrighted by Lucasfilm, Ltd. are their sole intellectual property, and the author does not seek to infringe on those copyrights. All comments should be left on the author's talk page or on the novel's talk page. Also, edits to the novel should be confined to spelling and grammar corrections. This work contains sci-fi action violence, mild profanity, and scenes that may not be appropriate for children. User discretion is advised.