Force Exile VI: Prodigal is the sixth novel of the Force Exile Series and the ninth overall Force Exile work written by Atarumaster88. Prodigal describes the reconciliation between the Force exiles and the Jedi Order in the face of a deadly enemy and a pending doom.
Welcome, my friend, to a galaxy far, far away. Enter the realm of Jedi and bounty hunters, soldiers and droids, rulers and beggars, alien and human. From Stackpole’s Corellians to Traviss's Mandalorians, come to 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.
As the galaxy struggles to recover from the devastation of the Yuuzhan Vong War and Dark Nest Crisis, the Force exiles on Yanibar must make a perilous decision as they face exposure to the wider galaxy. One of Yanibar's own has fallen to the dark side and is on the loose in the galaxy, unleashing a devastating wave of terror. Feeling responsible, Selu Kraen and his family defy the wishes of Yanibar's government to venture out and stop the menace. In doing so, they risk jeopardizing the exodus forced upon Yanibar's people during the Yuuzhan Vong War, their standings in the refuge, and the tightly-held secrecy that Yanibar has prized for over fifty years.
The sound of a solitary person persistently clapping stopped the doctor in midspeech. He searched around for the offender and quickly found her, a Wroonian woman clad in black who had risen from her seat and was advancing toward the stage. He glared down at the offender as the rest of the audience sat in stunned silence.
“And speaking of not disrupting the priorities of the many,” he remarked acerbically.
She seemed unperturbed and continued, though her clapping stopped.
“What is the meaning of this?” he demanded.
“You are all beings of science, all of you,” she said smoothly, her voice somehow resonating throughout the chamber without any amplification. “I applaud your work, Doctor, and I am sure that your address would amply illustrate your point—it was well-spoken. But perhaps, something else would showcase your message in a manner that would affect your audience more readily.”
“I will not stand for this interruption,” Doctor Jungplutt fumed. “Cease this insolence.”
She gave him a thin, cold smile as nobody moved to stop her.
“I don’t think so, Doctor. We have an experiment to conduct.”
- Lando Calrissian, Tendrando Arms executive
- Commodore Gavin Darklighter, Galactic Alliance Defense Force
- Kyle Katarn, Jedi Master
- Jaina Solo, Jedi Knight
- Luke Skywalker, Jedi Grand Master
- Mara Jade Skywalker, Jedi Master
- Tyria Sarkin Tainer, Jedi Knight
- Elite Morgedh clan Kel'nerh, Yanibar Elite Guardians
- Director Milya Tayrce Kraen, Yanibar Guard Intelligence
- Elite Ryion Kraen, Yanibar Elite Guardians
- Supreme Commander Selusda Kraen, Yanibar Guard
- Elite Zeyn Kraen, Yanibar Elite Guardians
- Elite Qedai Sherum Kraen, Yanibar Elite Guardians
- Kavlis Burke, farmer
- Rhiannon Kraen Burke, housewife
- Akleyn Kraen, physician
- Cassi Trealus Kraen, retiree
- Sarth Kraen, corporate executive and engineer
- Shara Berecca Kraen, housewife
- Ariada Cerulaen, Dark Jedi
- Emerald, assassin
- Danni Quee, scientist
- Aspra Serpaddis, Dark Jedi
- Niull Shac, warrior
- Chapters 1-2
- Chapters 3-4
- Chapters 5-7
- Chapters 8-9
- Chapters 10-12
- Chapters 13-14
- Chapters 15-16
- Chapters 17-18
- Chapters 19-21
- Chapters 22-26
In 38 ABY, the galaxy has settled into a period of relative peace under the reigning Galactic Alliance and their allies the New Jedi Order in the aftermath of the Yuuzhan Vong War. The Force exile refuge on Yanibar, stricken by Yuuzhan Vong weapons that are devastating the planet's surface, is preparing a mammoth evacuation effort. However, when the planet Manaan suddenly goes silent, a Galactic Alliance task force under Commodore Gavin Darklighter is dispatched to investigate. They learn that Manaan's population has been infected with a horrifying and incurable disease known as the technobeast virus that turns its victims into mindless cyborgs.
On Coruscant, at the Convention on Biological Advancement, a Wroonian woman named Ariada interrupts a lecture to unleash the same disease, infecting all the participants while remaining unharmed. Ariada was once a Force exile serving in Yanibar's military, but fell to the dark side during the Yuuzhan Vong War. Late during the war, she overtook a transport carrying several Hapan Jedi apprentices under the care of a Jedi Knight. Ariada slew the Jedi Knight and took the girls into her service. She brainwashed them into believing that the Jedi Order was evil, and equipped and trained them to carry out her will.
Having learned of Ariada's resurfacing, Selu Kraen, the head of Yanibar's defense force, and some of his closest friends and family defy the isolationist wishes of Yanibar's government to hunt her down, feeling responsible for her actions. In doing so, they jeopardize their standing on Yanibar, as the Council wanted all of Yanibar's resources focused on handling the monumental task of evacuating the planet to a new world called Atlaradis that had been discovered by Selu's wife, Milya Tayrce Kraen, and sister-in-law, Cassi Trealus Kraen, nearly ten years earlier. Atlaradis is far and isolated, the route there only open for brief windows between long breaks of inaccessibility, a perfectly isolated pristine world for them to settle upon. Selu's brother Sarth Kraen, heads the evacuation effort as the leader of Kraechar Arms. However, there are innumerable technical obstacles to overcome, as the evacuation ships his firm is building lack the power to enter orbit while carrying all the needed people and supplies.
Over the icy planet Belsavis, Jedi Knights Jaina Solo and Zekk are investigating that world after it too falls silent. They come under attack from hidden starfighters flown by Ariada's assassins. A quartet of Yanibar Guardsmen in starfighters of their own, Ryion Kraen, Qedai Sherum Kraen, Zeyn Kraen, and Jutka Dsitra, arrive to help, but come under fire. They attempt to withdraw, but Jaina is shot down and crashes, while Jutka is killed in aerial combat. In response, Ryion bails out and saves her, hiding her in an ice crevasse and attempting to treat her serious injuries. Ryion keeps watch over her, but she has haunting visions while unconscious and even when she finally breaks her fever and awakes, her wounds are beyond his ability to treat.
Selu, Milya, Cassi, and the Noghri warrior Morgedh clan Kel'nerh arrive on Coruscant. Selu goes to reveal the true existence of the Yanibar refuge and the threat of Ariada to the Jedi Order, but is shot by an assailant before he can enter. Seriously wounded, he is saved by a Jedi named Tyria Sarkin Tainer who pulls him inside for treatment. That night, Cassi, Milya, and Morgedh are attacked at their safehouse and taken prisoner. Ariada, now a fugitive from the Galactic Alliance due to her attack on the Convention Center, turns herself in. She is brought to a detention center and interrogated, but easily breaks out. Her assassins cover her escape and also attempt to assassinate the Chief of State of the Galactic Alliance, Cal Omas, who is saved by the Jedi Master Mara Jade Skywalker.
Ariada escapes back to her ship, a cloaked cruiser called the Knightfall equipped with Force-amplifying Ilnash crystals and the latest in stealth technology to plot her next move. Realizing that she has been followed by the Yanibar Guard, she sets a trap for them. Selu returns to consciousness inside the Jedi Temple, where he meets with Luke Skywalker and several other prominent Jedi. For the first time, Selu reveals his past as a Jedi Knight of the Old Republic to Luke and the others, as well as the history that led him to Yanibar. He also warns them about Ariada and reveals that Tyria was trained on Yanibar, only her memory of those events was erased to preserved the secrecy of the refuge. However, he learns that Milya, Cassi, and Morgedh have finished, while Zeyn, Qedai, and Zekk arrive from Belsavis with their report of the dogfight there.
Luke and Qedai investigate the hotel where Milya, Cassi, and Morgedh had been staying and find that it had been burned. They spot an observer keeping watching on the room and surreptitiously follow him back to a well-fortified warehouse. Selu, along with Luke, Mara, Qedai, Zeyn, Zekk, and Tyria, attempt to assault the warehouse after realizing that Milya, Morgedh, and Cassi are inside. However, Qedai and Zeyn are stunned while Selu is taken prisoner and compelled to call off the assault. They learn that the warehouse is manned by the Yanibar Guard, who were sent after them when Jutka tipped Yanibar's Ruling Council off to Selu's plan to stop Ariada. Selu manages to finagle a conversation with the Council and argues that their pursuit of Ariada is both legal and necessary. The Council barely agrees to allow him to continue the pursuit and Selu obtains command of all Yanibar Guard assets insystem, including several squads of commandos at the safe house and a cruiser which is insystem. Having sorted out the command issues, Selu has Milya, Cassi, and Morgedh freed, then he and his party investigate the docking bay where they left their ship, the Hawk-bat, as the Yanibar Guardsmen who secured it have gone missing. They find Ariada, several of her assassins, and four lethal assassin droids waiting for them. After a brief battle, Ariada and her assassins leave, while Selu, Morgedh, and Milya dispatch the droids. They return to the Jedi Temple to discuss matters with the Jedi. Meanwhile, the remaining Yanibar Guardsmen prepare to leave Coruscant.
Cassi meets up with an old acquaintance in Galactic Alliance Intelligence, obtaining additional information on the trends of Ariada's attacks, allowing them to realize Ariada is picking some targets as visual demonstrations of her power and others to eliminate potential or realized enemies. Ariada passes a message to the Jedi telling them that Jaina is in the Drexel system unharmed, as Ariada has no reason to fight her. Though suspecting a trap, Luke Skywalker and much of his family journey to Drexel to investigate. It is a trap, and Ariada uses several interdiction mines to trap them in the Drexel system, cut off from outside space. Meanwhile, Selu and his party, along with the Yanibar Guardsmen, work with Tyria Sarkin Tainer and another Jedi Master named Kyle Katarn whom Selu had fought alongside during the Yuuzhan Vong War to locate and defend Ariada's next targets.
Selu, the two Jedi, and his party travel to Belsavis in search of Ryion on the Yanibar Guard cruiser Daara'sherum. Landing near the crash site, they are able to rescue Ryion and Jaina. However, Ariada has followed them there and they barely escape to the ship, which is then pummeled by the Knightfall. Ariada can fire on them while cloaked and hidden in the Force using her own Force abilities, making the fight one-sided. The Daara'sherum is saved by the arrival of a Galactic Alliance task force under Darklighter which is quarantining the planet, as it is also infected with the technobeast virus. Ariada is advised by her Dark Jedi companion Aspra Serpaddis that she is stretching her ability to strike too thin, and she agrees, falling back while resuming her terrorist activities.
On the Daara'sherum, Jaina Solo convalesces. Cassi helps her, offering to use the Force and other restorative techniques to help heal Jaina's accumulated injuries, both recent and the not-fully-healed ones from years of combat and battlefield medicine. Jaina initially rejects her, then realizes that maybe she has not allowed herself to fully recover from the past and accepts Cassi's help. Meanwhile, Selu dispatches several different people to various locations in hopes of averting Ariada's next strike.
Milya and Tyria journey to Almania, home of Tendrando Arms, a defense contractor allied with the Jedi. Milya meets with its head, Lando Calrissian, and narrowly defeats one of Ariada's assassins, capturing the young woman at considerable personal injury. Calrissian takes both of them back to a private retreat where Tyria joins them. Milya restores Tyria's memory of Yanibar back to her while she recovers, leaving Tyria to interrogate the prisoner with little success. When Milya recovers, she takes over the questioning and is eventually able to break through to the young woman after Tyria learns her origins, including her name, Novera. Milya convinces Novera that everything Ariada has done to her and used her for has been a lie, winning over the young woman's loyalty. Novera tells them that Ariada has a base on Tython. Having learned the information they need, Milya and Tyria return to the Daara'sherum with a repentant but still-imprisoned Novera.
Ryion travels to Rhinnal, but is unable to stop a bombing of a former Jedi chapter house and the college of medicine there. His ship is likewise also sabotaged, stranding him on Rhinnal with no means of contacting help. However, a pair of local workers, Erlam and Ylain, the latter of whom had known Selu years earlier, show him charity and allow him to stay at their house, even helping him find a way to communicate with Selu. Once she is recovered, Jaina volunteers to retrieve Ryion, as Selu has received his message. She journeys to Rhinnal in search of him but is attacked by one of Ariada's assassins. Jaina fends her off and locates Ryion, allowing them to return to the Daara'sherum.
Zeyn journeys to the distant world of Zonama Sekot, home of the Yuuzhan Vong and the biological expert Danni Quee, both of whom are targets for Ariada. Zeyn encounters the Yuuzhan Vong, including Niull Shac, the relative of someone whom the Yanibar Guard fought and killed during the war. Nevertheless, despite some tension, the Yuuzhan Vong point him in the direction of Danni and warn him that another assassin has already arrived. Zeyn catches up with Danni just as the assassin opens fire, killing Danni's traveling companion. The two flee into the forests of Zonama Sekot, attempting to return to the village where Zeyn's ship is. To their horror, the assassin has already unleashed the technobeast virus and left assassin droids patrolling the perimeter. Zeyn fends off a pair of technobeasts and an assassin droid, but is wounded and infected in the process. Danni cures him of the disease with her Force powers and they retreat, hiding in a cave as the assassin comes after them. Together, they defeat another assassin droid and the assassin, but Zeyn is severely wounded and the cave entrance is buried.
A group of Yuuzhan Vong led by Niull Shac arrive and dig them out, treating Zeyn's wounds. While he recovers, Danni reveals the plight of Yanibar, which Zeyn had told her of, to the Yuuzhan Vong. They offer to help, but Zeyn feels betrayed at her disclosure and is angry, not to mention spiteful of the Yuuzhan Vong, whom he does not remember fondly. Once he recovers, Niull Shac leads him and Danni to the assassin's ship, which the Yuuzhan Vong found while quarantining the area around the infected village. Zeyn fights off another assassin droid, but the ship is rigged such that any hyperspace jumps or transmission are monitored by Ariada. Realizing that he has no choice but to trust the Yuuzhan Vong, Zeyn accepts their offer of transport, as well as possible aid for the Yanibar refuge to help in the evacuation effort. Before he and Danni leave Zonama Sekot, they confess the feelings they had developed for each other during the course of their flight.
Meanwhile, Ariada has not been idle. She journeys to Bespin, intercepting Ryion's wife, Shara, en route back to Yanibar from visiting family. Morgedh clan Kel'nerh arrives to intervene and they escape. Just when they think they are at a safe at an abandoned mining station owned by the Yanibar Guard, Ariada reveals that she has beaten them there, along with her assassins and droids. After a brief fight, Ariada captures Shara, but at the cost of one of her assassins, while Morgedh tumbles into a carbonite freezer as the station's self-destruct is activated.
On Yanibar, another assassin has infiltrated the Yanibar Council and takes them prisoner as Sarth was arriving for a status report. He intervenes, disabling her two droids and distracting her long enough for Qedai and Cassi, who had been sent back by Selu, to arrive. Qedai slays the assassin, but Sarth is shot in the process and severely injured while the Council perishes. Outside the refuge, Selu and Milya's daughter Rhiannon learns from her husband, Kavlis Burke, that the rest of their community, Outsiders who live apart from the Force exile refuge by choice, have decided to go Naos instead of Atlaradis. Rhiannon is torn, knowing that her parents and their family aren't as close to her as her family and friends outside the refuge, but not wanting to leave them forever. Kavlis decides to send her and her second son Tavin to visit the refuge to help make up her mind. With Selu, Milya, and many of the others gone, she stays with Sarth and Cassi while wrestling with her decision. With the Council dead, Yanibar's new leaders ask Sarth to take over, but knowing that his attention is needed on the evacuation, Cassi volunteers herself instead, becoming the new leader of the Council.
Ariada then journeys to the Force-strong world of Dathomir, where one of her operatives disperses the technobeast virus. Selu follows her on the Daara'sherum and is forced to purge the infected area by bombarding it from orbit. Ariada then contacts Selu to reveal that she has taken Shara and attacked Yanibar. She warns him to back off, or else she will cause further damage. Ariada also tortures Shara to distract Ryion, and then calls him as well to demand that he trade himself for Shara. Ariada also demands Jaina's surrender, or her family will remain trapped forever. Furthermore, Ariada discreetly informs Cal Omas of three technobeast virus bombs hidden on Coruscant and another bomb on Bespin. Her ultimatum forces the Galactic Alliance to call off its pursuit of her. Ryion and Jaina reluctantly surrender themselves to Ariada's custody and are taken prisoner onto her ship, the Knightfall. There, Ariada reveals that her goals are not revenge, but rather orchestrating events to divorce the Galactic Alliance and Jedi, to force an independent Jedi Order that can focus on defending the galaxy from the dark side. Her travels have shown her that many other dark threats lurk in the galaxy, and she hopes to avoid the horrifying visions of the future she has seen to come to past. Ryion dismisses her ideas out of hand, pointing that her methods are barbaric. She treats him harshly, keeping him confined and malnourished, while in comparison Jaina and Shara receive much better treatment.
However, Jaina and Ryion left behind a cloud of tracking particles that attached to Ariada's ship. Using those, Selu is able to track the Knightfall and plans a rescue mission with the help of Milya and Novera, reluctantly agreeing to allow Novera to accompany them. Qedai returns from Yanibar along with her husband, Akleyn, who is a doctor, to join the expedition as well. Using the Hawk-bat, Selu surreptitiously approaches the Knightfall in the Mustafar system. They find Ryion, but Ariada reveals herself in an area cut off from the Force by ysalamiri. Novera betrays them, but she is playing both sides, as she turns on Ariada once the others have dropped their weapons. Ariada escapes in the resulting fight, but two of her assassins fall and Ryion is freed, though Novera is badly injured. Kyle and Tyria attempt to reach Ariada's sanctum to disable her bombs, but in a skirmish with more droids and another assassin, Tyria is wounded, and they fall back. Meanwhile, Ryion goes in search of Jaina and Shara while Selu and Milya head for the sanctum. A team of Yanibar Guard commandos also battles their way to the engine room to sabotage the Knightfall and prevent them from escaping. Ryion and Qedai free Jaina and Shara, and Ryion pursues Ariada's councilor, Aspra Serpaddis, and slays him.
Selu and Milya reach Ariada's sanctum and combat her in a vicious duel that leaves both sides wounded and haggard. However, Ariada eventually succumbs. Selu and Milya attempt to reason with her, but she is adamantly opposed, feeling that her efforts, drastic as they are, are necessary for long-term galactic stability. Instead, Selu and Milya self-destruct the bombs even as the engines are sabotaged. However, as Ariada has already activated them and there is an additional bomb in the sanctum, they do not have time to escape. Knowing that millions on Coruscant and Bespin are at stake, Selu and Milya order everyone else to escape on the Hawk-bat while they activate the self-destructs. The two aged Elite Guardians become one with the Force just as the explosion tears through the hull of the Knightfall, sending it crashing down onto Mustafar. Just as it falls, Master Skywalker and his entourage arrive with a Galactic Alliance task force along with Daara'sherum, having been appropriately signaled by the Hawk-bat just before they boarded the Knightfall.
On the Daara'sherum, Ryion reveals to Jaina that Ariada's master plan included the creation of a child from their two genetic codes, a Force-strong child that was implanted inside Jaina without their knowledge. They resolve to keep the matter hushed, and Shara offers to carry the child until it is born, whereupon Akleyn and Qedai can raise it since they cannot have children of their own. As a last request, Jaina asks that her memory of this be erased, so she has no memory of that detail.
Danni and Zeyn return to Yanibar, where the Yuuzhan Vong are allowed to help with the evacuation. One Yuuzhan Vong plots treachery, but Niull Shac is true to his word and suppresses it. Their contributions allow the evacuation ships to lift off fully loaded. The Yuuzhan Vong depart in peace as the travellers who had ventured out to stop Ariada return. The Galactic Alliance and Jedi Order help with the evacuation effort, and a funeral is held for Selu and Milya onboard the flagship of the Yanibar Guard. After that, Rhiannon and her family, along with the rest of the Outsiders, leave for Naos, as Rhiannon knows that her place is with them, no matter how promising Atlaradis sounds. The rest of the Yanibar Force exile refuge then depart for Atlaradis and are welcomed by a pair of friends that had remained there during their initial expedition, Jorge and Annita Daowot Knrr.
Months later, Sarth and Cassi visit the oracle of Atlaradis, a nexus of Force energy that allows them to see and communicate with Force-sensitives they knew in life but have passed away. There, Cassi tells the assembled spirits of Selu, Milya, and Spectre that she and Sarth are finally home on the peaceful world.
Behind the scenes
Force Exile VI: Prodigal was released in May 2013 as the sixth and final novel of the Force Exile Series. It is the only novel to be set in the Legacy era, decades after the original movie trilogy. At 179,000 words, it is the fourth-longest of the Force Exile novels.
Early concepts for Prodigal had previously borne the title "Mentor," but this was quickly replaced as not meaningful enough. The title Prodigal refers alternately to Selu's flight from the Jedi Order, Ariada's rejection of Yanibar, and the voyage of the Force exiles to their new home. Atarumaster88 had long previously set the departure of the Yanibar refuge and the final confrontation between the Force exiles and a fallen member of their own, Ariada, as the fundamental underpinnings of the novel. Additional concepts that were added included featuring Jaina Solo, Lando Calrissian, and Danni Quee as part of Ariada's plot, while also finding a way to show an overt meeting between Selu and the New Jedi Order. Atarumaster88 had also known for many years that he wanted to end the series conclusively before the Legacy of the Force series, and arranged to place Prodigal in 38 ABY to satisfy certain numerology preferences in the series. He also chose to write in the death of the Corellian character Garm Bel Iblis in Prodigal, as having him alive and not participating in the events of Legacy of the Force made no sense.
Work began on Force Exile VI: Prodigal before the completion of Force Exile V: Warrior in late 2011 as Atarumaster88 was writing Warrior. As such, it has the longest writing duration of any Force Exile novel. Its original announcement was released as part of a pervasive April Fools' joke across two wikis that Wookieepedia was merging with the Star Wars Fanon wiki and fan-made creations would be able to be recognized as canon by Lucasfilm Ltd. As such, author Atarumaster88 posted false information about the novel, including a romantic excerpt portraying Ryion Kraen and Jaina Solo as starcrossed-lovers. After April Fools' Day 2012 was over, Atarumaster88 removed the excerpt and all content pertaining to this relationship, categorically denying it was anything but a joke.
Only two scenes were written in 2011, as Atarumaster88 had strong visual concepts for them at the time and wanted to put them to words: the shootdown scene over Belsavis and Ariada's appearance at the convention. Beyond those two, Prodigal went untouched until late 2012. The draft outline for Prodigal changed significantly throughout the pre-writing process. The ultimate ending for the story was not fully established until late in the writing process, and the latter half was re-outlined twice. While the main story elements of Prodigal had long been established, the specific details of smaller plot arcs such as Rhiannon's choice and the fate of the Knightfall boarding team were subject to significant alteration. Ariada's plan regarding Ryion and Jaina was also not solidified until late in the writing process. Tyria Sarkin Tainer and the recurring character of Ylain from Second Guessed were two other side characters not included until later in the writing process, though Atarumaster88 had long since planned a tie-in between Prodigal and Cloak and Datapad.
Atarumaster88 released the first three segments of Force Exile VI: Prodigal in February 2013 after working on it extensively through the end of 2012. He ended up truncating and partially rewriting the scenes originally written in 2011, and cutting an extra scene of Jaina Solo's hallucinations. The novel was then completed over the course of the next few months. Due to Atarumaster88 choosing to release multiple segments at a time rather than individually, the novel benefited from a prolonged beta-phase that was able to evaluate larger sections for flow. As such, several scenes were added or tweaked as a result of beta-reader feedback, more so than any other Force Exile novel. In fact, three scenes were added after the novel's completion: the scene where Kavlis meets the Naotian representatives, the scene where Jaina fights Garnet on Rhinnal, and where Garnet subsequently reports to Ariada. Additional consultation from an expert was obtained to more accurately describe the safe house the Yanibar Guardsmen took Milya, Cassi, and Morgedh to on Coruscant, as well as the means that the house might be surveyed and breached.
Conversely, the scene where Selu was shot near the Jedi Temple was originally much longer and included him running into the Jedi Temple to meet with Luke Skywalker before collapsing. It was removed due to being unwieldy and melodramatic. The scene where Selu and the Jedi assault the safe house was also curtailed—originally, the siege was prolonged and Selu's legal argument was considerably more obtuse.
In contrast to Warrior, Atarumaster88 sought to reduce the length and number of plot arcs involved in Prodigal. As such, the novel is shorter than both Guardian and Warrior while still allowing minor characters such as Jasika and Bryndar to appear. Another shift compared to previous novels was a greater willingness to venture into contemporary sociopolitical issues. Prodigal is also the first novel to feature main characters from the original trilogy, as Atarumaster88 had previously avoided including them, other than brief appearances from Darth Vader and Lando Calrissian.
When writing Ariada, Atarumaster88 wanted to create a more tragic antagonist, one with whom the reader could identify with, yet still clearly misguided. He drew on influences from the Batman and Bourne trilogies in scripting some of her earlier scenes, particularly in selecting her targets and how she undermined the galactic government. Ariada is the first truly persistent antagonist to survive a previous novel, as she was a secondary antagonist in Warrior and also had prior exposure in Champion of Yanibar. As opposed to the combat strength and military power of previous antagonists such as Helsi, Tyber Zann, and Tsaruuk, Atarumaster88 chose to emphasize Ariada's technical skills, cunning, and foresight, as well as her knowledge of the Force, as opposed to numerical or military superiority.
Another conflict that had been suggested in Warrior and now fully explored in Prodigal was a conflict between Selu Kraen and the rest of Yanibar's government. In previous works, Selu and his family had always enjoyed the tacit support of Yanibar's government and military. To complicate their pursuit of Ariada as well as create an additional source of tension, Atarumaster88 chose to erode that support, symbolic of how Yanibar's ability to support life at all had been eroded away by the altered orbit of its moon.
Ariada's targeting of Manaan had long been planned and stemmed from the author's intense dislike of the Selkath when playing Knights of the Old Republic. Its status as a safe harbor for Force-users made it a natural target for Ariada. In contrast, Rhinnal's connection was more tenuous, chosen primarily to give Jaina and Ryion more character development.
As is common in Force Exile stories, Atarumaster88 used a number of references to both canonical works and other media. Prodigal's inclusion of the New Jedi Order meant that certain books of the Legacy of the Force series were useful in understanding the dichotomy of the New Jedi Order and Galactic Alliance, as well as characterization of certain individuals such as Cal Omas and Luke Skywalker. The X-wing series provided insights into the characters of Garik Loran and Tyria Sarkin Tainer.
The head of the Order of Shasa's dying words were a nod to similar line spoken by Denua Ku in Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand. The repeated line about having a bad feeling about a situation is a nod to the oft-used phrase in canon starting with A New Hope. Another repeated line from A New Hope is "Hello there," used by Cilghal to Selu. Ariada's use of Sith sorcery in serpentine form evokes imagery used in the Dark Apprentice novel by Kevin J. Anderson, while Jaina's recollection of her duel with Zekk was drawn from Jedi Under Siege.
The lack of immediate recognition of Luke Skywalker by a member of the general public is a nod to a similar occurrence in Betrayal. Loran's comment about "silly Jedi types" is a phrase he used canonically in Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand. Kyle's sarcastic Thank you so very much is a turning of the exact same sentence spoken by Luke Skywalker in Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream against Skywalker. Milya's reflection about how she is too old for combat bespeaks similar sentiments by Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope and Wedge Antilles in Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand. Jaina's and Ryion's first exchange on Rhinnal was also influenced by a similar line spoken in X-wing: Mercy Kill. When Novera is brought before Selu, Tyria's line that "Bringing her here is dangerous" also references A New Hope. The tracking particles that Ryion and Jaina use to find Ariada are technology introduced in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. Ariada's reference to an evil she is an oblique reference to Lumiya, while Novera's reference that the future is in motion reflects Yoda's wisdom in The Empire Strikes Back. Ryion's remarks to Aspra Serpaddis about Vaapad mirror Mace Windu's words to Kar Vastor in Shatterpoint, while Aspra Serpaddis channels Palpatine's taunts to Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi.
The delivery of the Great Holocron to Luke Skywalker by Ryion explains the origin of the information in Jedi Vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force. Furthermore, the subtle reference to Tenupe at the end of the novel is a nod to the status of Jagged Fel, lost on the planet during the Dark Nest trilogy and returning in Legacy of the Force. Ryion's revelation of Ariada's plan to Jaina also draws heavily from scenes on Bespin from The Empire Strikes Back between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Zeyn's beginning of his story to Ana channels the opening crawl from every Star Wars film.
Outside of canon, the equipment and training of Ariada's assassins, as well as their background of being forcibly taken into service and brainwashed is reminiscent of the Ghost Program from the Starcraft universe, specifically the characters of Sarah Kerrigan and November Terra. Doctor Yungplutt's espoused ideology also draws from some presentations by bioethicist Peter Singer. Ariada's brazen attacks on the Galactic Alliance and her sinister challenges to their leadership were influenced by the characters of Bane, the Joker, and Loki from DC's Batman and Marvel's Avengers franchises respectively, as well as Kane from Command & Conquer. Ariada's question to her interrogator about how she received her crystalline implants is a direct nod to the Joker, while her remark to Shara about her fate being more . . . punishing is a reference to Bane. Her use of the phrase "Darkness" in a harsh whisper as she uses Sith sorcery was inspired by the Nocturne character from League of Legends.
Ryion's line of "I’m a pilot, not a surgeon.” is a nod to the repeated use of similar phrases in Star Trek. Another Star Trek influence was the battle between the Knightfall and the Daara'sherum, which has parallels to the Battle in the Bassen Rift from Star Trek: Nemesis. Selu's use of "clever girl" in reference to Ariada is homage to Jurassic Park. Milya's mention that "A storm is coming" refers to similar dialogue in The Lord of the Rings. Selu's observation that Jaina Solo shows considerable resilience is also a nod to a line uttered by Elrond in the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Ariada's numbering of nine assassins is also an indirect homage to the nine Ringwraiths of Tolkien's work. Ariada's angry outburst to Selu and Milya about the things they have taken from her also reflects Denethor's charge against Gandalf in The Return of the King. The prolonged speeder chase on Bespin was heavily influenced by the Bourne series. Zeyn's use of the phrase "We fight or die" to Danni is a nod to Mass Effect 3. As with Force Exile V, some of Akleyn's mannerisms evoke the sarcastic speech and attitude of Dr. House from the series House. Selu's call to Milya for help is homage to a similar line in The Matrix.
Beyond other fictional media, Jaina's haranguing by a group of protestors on Rhiannal evoked much of the same language and attitude espoused by the Occupy movement, which Atarumaster88 translated into anti-Jedi sentiment. Cassi's alias of "Sue Donnam" is homage to the pseudonym used by Star Wars Fanon user Solus. The letters in Ariada's passcode spell out THIS IS NOT THE END in English. Cassi's final words of the novel reference the Switchfoot song "This Is Home."
The outcome of the duel between Ryion and Aspra Serpaddis directly reflects Genesis 3:14-15, where Milya receives an ankle wound from Ariada, while Ryion crushes the head of the serpentine Aspra Serpaddis. Selu and Milya's parting thought on the mission to Knightfall also mirrors the final words of Jesus Christ before His death. The ultimate destruction of Yanibar and the transfer of its people to a new, greater world free of conflict, has parallels in both the biblical book of Revelation as well as the C.S. Lewis novel The Last Battle. The story arc of the Force exiles also generally has strong references to the biblical exodus, where Selu has facets of Moses, Spectre has certain commonalities with Aaron, while Sarth, Milya, Ryion, and Cassi all contain certain symbolism from Miriam, Joshua, Tzipporah, and Caleb. The journey from the galaxy into exile on Yanibar parallels the departure of Israel and his family to Egypt, with the time spent on Yanibar representative of the many years the nation of Israel spent in the desert. The culmination of both stories was the passing of the previous generation of the leadership and the entry of the people into a new and better land.
Recognition and reception
Force Exile VI: Prodigal currently has no awards or featured work status.
The cover for Prodigal was designed by Solus using images provided by the author. The cover features, from left to right and from top to bottom, the characters Jaina Solo, the Knightfall, Ariada Cerulaen, Selusda Kraen, and Danni Quee.
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, some implied sexuality, adult themes, mild profanity, and scenes that may not be appropriate for children. User discretion is advised.
Notes and references
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