Force Exile II: Smuggler is the second novel and overall story in the Force Exile Series written by Atarumaster88. Set one year after the formation of the Galactic Empire, the novel continues the story of 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.
Sighing, Annita returned to the spaceport traffic pattern analysis she had been looking over. There was nothing to it but to get back to work. Perhaps if she narrowed her search parameters, the computer would give a clearer resolve. She was searching for young to middle aged human females who had arrived within the last two months, but had come up with a huge list of possibilities. Assuming the Mistryl had some proficiency in forging passports and identicards, there was no easy way to facilitate some sort of sorting query. Meaning that each entry would have to be hand-checked, and even that might not yield anything.
Suddenly, she was distracted by the sound of something slamming into a wall or floor. She reached for her comlink to call Dolp, the lone guard on duty at the Investigator station, when the door to her small and rather crowded office burst open. A lithe looking woman wielding a blaster and wearing a dark jumpsuit and hood strode into the room and Annita unexpectedly found herself staring down the business end of a blaster pistol.
Force Exile II: Smuggler continues the story of Selusda Kraen, now a crew member on the freighter Hawk-bat alongside his brother, Sarth Kraen. In a galaxy of shifting allegiances and hidden agendas, Selu must fight to survive as he discovers his new identity. However, Selu isn't the only one with an identity crisis. Among others, the ARC Spectre must come to grips with a new military and his role in it. Meanwhile, so many outside perils threaten the crew of the Hawk-bat that the survival of all of them is beyond unlikely in the midst of the tangled webs and snares surrounding them. Only in trusting and aiding on each other—and on some unlikely allies—can they hope to weather the storm.
- Alpha-28 “Spectre”, ARC trooper, Grand Army of the Empire
- CC-3433 “Trip”, Clone Commander, Grand Army of the Empire
- Alpha-21 "Twone", ARC trooper, Grand Army of the Empire
- Quinlan Vos, Jedi Master
- Bwilor, security guard
- Annita Daowot, Commenor Investigator
- Helsi D'brisse, Mistryl Shadow Guard
- Jorgesoll Knrr, crewmember
- Lena Kraen, teacher
- Samtel Kraen, attorney
- Sarth Kraen, crewmember
- Selusda Kraen, crewmember
- R'hask Sei'lar, ship captain
- Milya Tayrce, mercenary
- Drelve Tlaleo, security guard
- Cassi Trealus, crewmember
At the start of Smuggler, the ARC trooper Spectre, faced with the realities of the new Empire taking power, opts to retire from the military. He is joined by another ARC, Alpha-21 “Twone,” and the two leave Imperial service and find work as private security guards.
Meanwhile, the exiled Jedi Knight Selu Kraen, along with his brother Sarth Kraen, is serving on a light freighter called the Hawk-bat, whose crew also includes the Bothan captain R’hask Sei’lar, first mate Jorgesoll Knrr, and cargomaster Cassi Trealus. The Hawk-bat arrives at the Kraens’ homeworld of Commenor, allowing Sarth and Selu to visit their parents—a poignant moment for Selu, who hasn’t seen them in nearly two decades due to being taken by the Jedi as an infant.
However, that night, the Kraens are attacked by a group of Mistryl Shadow Guards, ruthless female mercenaries who after Sarth for his research into droid control, which they consider vital for their war effort. Selu holds them off, but is wounded in the process. Both the Hawk-bat and local law enforcement converge on the Kraen estate in the aftermath.
R’hask and Jorge agree to take Selu to the world of New Holstice for treatment, as a cover for offloading a secret arms deal they’ve been hiding from the rest of the crew. He also hires a group of security guards, which includes Spectre and Twone, for the Kraens’ security. This leads to an almost-lethal encounter between Selu and Spectre, who recognize each other from the Clone Wars, but the tension is diffused when they recognize they are allies, not adversaries. Cassi remains with Sarth on Commenor, and Sarth is confronted by an old childhood friend, Annita Daowot, now a detective working the case. As Sarth and Cassi realize their feelings for each other, Annita grows jealous, but also has to maintain her professional focus on the case, even as Sarth tries to conceal details about the Mistryl and Selu from her. She talks over the case with him over lunch, but they are attacked by another Mistryl, forcing them to flee.
This more drastic assault causes Annita to move the Kraens and their bodyguards to a remote safehouse, but the Mistryl leader, Helsi D’brisse, is just as determined to find and abduct Sarth. Hidden away, Sarth and Cassi make the best of their situation, voicing their love for each other with the approval of Sarth’s parents, though Cassi does notice Annita’s attention towards Sarth and grows jealous.
On New Holstice, R’hask and Jorge complete their deal, ferrying arms to the Naboo resistance, but the arrival of an Imperial ship causes their partners to hold them in custody for a few weeks. Meanwhile, Selu recovers and, unable to find his shipmates, explores the city, finding a memorial dedicated to the Jedi Order slated for destruction. While there, he notices a figure from his past—Jedi Master Quinlan Vos. Vos is on New Holstice, but is trying to escape, a task made difficult by the fact that both the Empire and the Car’das criminal syndicate are looking for him. Selu links up with Vos, asking for his guidance and tutelage, and Vos accepts. The Naboo resistance is crushed on Naboo and the Imperials find their hideout on New Holstice as well, just as they released R’hask and Jorge. In the ensuing firefight, R’hask is mortally wounded, while Jorge runs in fear, leaving him guilt-stricken. Selu and Quinlan arrive just in time to take down the remaining troopers and conceal the evidence. They take R’hask’s body with them and bury it near the memorial, where Selu releases all the memory moths inside the tower to roam free, saving them from Imperial retribution.
Selu slips back to the Hawk-bat, only to find it being stolen by a group of ship thieves. Onboard, he also finds a stowaway, a young Echani mercenary named Milya Tayrce. The two agree to cooperate and quickly take down the ship thieves, saving each other’s lives in the process. Selu is forced to use his lightsaber in the struggle, causing him to distrust Milya, but she persuades him that they’re better off working together. Selu and Milya head back to the others, and along the way, a member of the Car’das Syndicate approaches Selu, offering him a hefty sum if he will deliver a computer core that will shut down the Mistryl’s defense grid to their capital world of Emberlene, thus removing the threat from Sarth once the syndicate’s allies deal with the Mistryl. Selu agrees, accepting the core.
To escape New Holstice, Selu, Milya, and Vos attack an Imperial force at the spaceport as a diversion so that Jorge can lift off in the Hawk-bat. Stealing a shuttle and a pair of starfighters, they escape into orbit, where they stave off an Imperial cruiser long enough to complete their flight. Milya at first considers taking the shuttle and striking out on her own once more, but Selu encourages her to join them, which she does eventually. With Jorge still remorseful over the death of R’hask Sei’lar, Selu reluctantly assumes command of the ship. They fly to Nar Shaddaa, where Vos is reunited with one of his old contacts and leaves the party to find his own family, feeling that he and Selu have separate destinies.
On Commenor, the Mistryl find the safehouse and attack by night. They are beaten off yet again at the loss of all but one of their members, but Twone is fatally injured. The remaining Mistryl, the leader Helsi D’brisse, is undaunted, and captures Annita just as Selu contacts Sarth. Helsi threatens to kill Annita if Sarth does not turn himself in. Sarth plans to do so, but Selu beats him to the punch, turning himself in while posing as Sarth and bringing the computer core. Spectre, Sarth, and Cassi go to rescue Annita and manage to save her life. Shortly thereafter, Cassi and Annita are able to reconcile their differences.
Helsi takes Selu back to the rendezvous point, and then on to Emberlene. However, back on Commenor, Sarth, Cassi, Milya, Spectre, and Jorge decide to go after Selu in the Hawk-bat. Selu arrives on Emberlene and meets the Matriarch, who assigns him to begin his work. He does so, activating the computer core, but the Matriarch figures out his ruse through a game of dejarik. Selu’s arrival on Emberlene hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Car’das Syndicate, who arrange for a mercenary fleet to attack Emberlene just as the Hawk-bat swoops in. In the ensuing chaos, the ship is able to land at the compound where Selu is. Having been found out, the exiled Jedi Knight suddenly finds himself fighting one of the deadliest Dark Jedi from the Clone Wars: Asajj Ventress, who had been forced to work for the Mistryl but now fights her way free. The two clash, but Asajj gets the upper hand after slaying the other Mistryl.
At that moment, Sarth arrives with droidekas that he now controls, chasing off Asajj and rescuing the wounded Selu. When Sarth investigates the computer core, he finds that it is actually a bomb. Spectre, Sarth, Selu, and Milya flee back to the Hawk-bat, escaping just as the bomb explodes, devastating much of Emberlene in a nuclear blast and allowing the fleet in orbit to hit the planet’s surface due to the shields being knocked out. Selu is grief-stricken nearly to the point of succumbing fatally, but his crewmates persuade him to keep living.
They return to Commenor, where Jorge announces his intentions to retire to Commenor and he turns the ship over to Selu, who is unanimously chosen as the new captain of the Hawk-bat. With Spectre and Milya now part of the crew, they head off for the Outer Rim to ply the spacelanes as freelance traders and smugglers.
Behind the scenes
Force Exile II: Smuggler was released in November 2007 as the second entry in the Force Exile Series and as the second novel in the series with regards to in-universe chronology. At approximately 95,800 words at its initial release, it is the second-shortest of the Force Exile novels. Smuggler is one of three novels in the series to be set in the Imperial era and the first to take place after the prequel trilogy. The novel was reworked in 2012 and re-released in December 2012 with a new word count of 95,400.
Following the successful completion of the first novel, Force Exile I: Fugitive, Atarumaster88 began planning a longer, more ambitious novel as a sequel with a more complex structure and better defined plot. In this novel, he planned to introduce more female characters and continue the plotline that Fugitive ended with involving the Mistryl Shadow Guard. Recalling that canon had left the exact circumstances of the destruction of Emberlene ambiguous, Atarumaster88 decided to define that in his story. In prior drafts, Smuggler was quite a different story. The original draft called for Selu and Sarth to ship on the Hawk-Bat for several years, which was later altered to about a year. The original draft was also changed in regard to how Selu and Spectre encountered each other; instead of Spectre switching allegiances after seeing Selu be captured, he met Selu as a civilian under contract. Elements retained from the original draft included the death of R'hask Sei'lar, the appearance of Quinlan Vos, Spectre joining the crew of the Hawk-bat, Selu meeting his parents, and a connection with the fledgling Naboo resistance. The death of a Gungan was added to the sequence to express the author's personal distaste for the caricatures used by canon in that species.
As the outline progressed based on the completion of Fugitive, a relationship between Sarth and Cassi was established and the character of Annita Daowot introduced, though the character's original name was "Slani." Some plot elements intended for Smuggler were shifted into the third book in the series, Liberator. Two late additions were the appearance of Vilmarh Grahrk and Asajj Ventress. Grahrk's inclusion was done when a scene where Quinlan met his wife and child was altered to avoid canon conflicts. The novel was announced in June 2007 shortly after the completion of Fugitive and was written over approximately six months. One major post-release alteration was fleshing out the interaction between Annita and Cassi with an additional scene between them.
For the 2012 overhaul of the novel, Atarumaster88 made more revisions to Smuggler than he had with Fugitive, rewriting two scenes along with many smaller changes. The aftermath of the encounter with the ship thieves was rewritten, and the scene that had been added to reconcile Annita and Cassi was revamped twice. This particular scene had always been difficult for the author to write, necessitating significant changes until it matched the characters.
As is common in Force Exile stories, Atarumaster88 used a number of references to both canonical works and other media. Force Exile II references a number of canonical works, including Dark Lord: Rise of Darth Vader, Battlefront II, Vision of the Future, and Republic: Hidden Enemy. Force Exile II, like all the other Force Exile novels, opens on an Imperial or Republic Star Destroyer, as do all the movies and Timothy Zahn's books. As in several canonical works, the number 1138 and "I have a bad feeling about this" are used in Force Exile II. 1138 refers to an earlier George Lucas movie. The sequence with Milya sharpening her vibroblade is homage to a similar scene with Mara Jade in Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand. The scene with Doc and Jessa where Selu produces a gift for Jessa is a nod to a similar scene in Timothy Zahn’s Specter of the Past.
Outside of canon, the names of the Mistryl are inspired from Norse and Greek mythology. Helsi is derived from Hela, a Norse queen of the underworld, while Palla's name is derived from Pallas Athene and Persephone from Greek mythology.
Recognition and reception
Force Exile II: Smuggler was nominated for featured work in February 2009 and was awarded that status in May 2009. The novel was featured on the main page in June 2009. The novel was listed as "August OC (Original Character) Story of the Month" on TheForce.net.
The cover for Smuggler was designed by Solus using images provided by the author. The cover features, from left to right and from top to bottom, the characters R'hask Sei'lar, Selu Kraen, Annita Daowot, and Cassi Trealus. The original cover had the same characters and added Quinlan Vos and Helsi D'brisse, and was in a different arrangement and style. The newer cover altered the background, condensed some of the characters, and added the Hawk-bat.
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.
Notes and references
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