Iron Maiden is a novella by Atarumaster88. It is within the Yanibar Tales as part of the Force Exile Series. Iron Maiden follows the continuing story of the elite Yanibar Guard unit Cresh Squad in 7 BBY.
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.
Greetings, traveler. What brings you here to our remote corner of space? There’s little of value here if you’re after money, and little action for a thrill-seeker. After all, what significance does a dusty Outer Rim world have to the big galaxy out there? No, we’re a simple folk here on Yanibar, content to mind our own business and let the galaxy minds its own. Now, what did you say you wanted? Stories? Ah, you want to know if the scattered myths of three hundred years ago are true, if the legends of a great power that once lived here are more than old wives’ tales. They are. Once, this world was home to a great people-nothing special by themselves, but united, capable of great things. They lived and died here, all those years ago, as surely as you and I are standing right here. So, pull up a chair, grab something to drink, and I’ll tell you some of the old Yanibar tales.
Set in 7 BBY, five years after her first combat zone, Feran Slayn has achieved the rank of squad sergeant. Cool, dedicated, and utterly professional, she's seen enough action to have her idealism hammered into the same pragmatic steel she once criticized in her own superiors. All is going well for her, until she returns home from a simple liaison mission gone wrong.
It was three weeks ago that it first came down. We were going to Saloch discreetly, which for us meant we weren’t kicking open doors with blasters blazing. In fact, we weren’t even supposed to need our blasters. Our job was helping other people figure out how to fire their own blasters. I suppose that needs a bit of background. There’s this nasty bunch of people called the Lortans, or more appropriately, the Lortan fanatics. Somehow, they got it into their head that the surrounding alien species were going to result in the doom of the galaxy, or something like that. Anyway, they decided to ravage a few star systems in order to avert that, including Saloch. Never mind that the native Tunroth and Duros there hadn’t done anything to deserve that. Our job was to ensure that some export-quality arms were distributed to the locals and help them figure out how to defend themselves. Strictly on the low-down, of course. When the reigning galactic government doesn’t and shouldn’t know you exist, it’s probably a good idea to keep a low profile, which is exactly what we intended to do. Too bad it didn’t work out that way.
- Sergeant Feran Slayn, Yanibar Guard Army
- Located at Iron Maiden
In 7 BBY the Yanibar Guard deploys the elite commando unit Cresh Squad to the planet Saloch to assist the natives in fighting off the genocidal Lortan fanatics by providing weapons and training. Now a five year veteran and a sergeant, squad sniper Feran Slayn finds herself chafing under their operational restrictions, which do not allow them to directly engage the Lortan fanatics. The squad is forced to watch the devastation wrought by the fanatics on local communities but are powerless to prevent the killings and destruction.
After several weeks, the Yanibar Guard decides that they have done enough for the people of Saloch. Before withdrawing Cresh Squad, they order the squad to spot for a series of air and spacestrikes to weaken the Lortan fanatics. Together with the squad leader Captain Beblos, Feran Slayn advances into the desolate town of Om Crestos, fighting off an attack by vicious cannic predators. When a mishap reveals their presence to the Lortans and breaks Beblos' leg, it is up to Slayn to complete the mission. In her desire to repay the Lortans for their butchery, she designates the target without fully checking the surrounding area, and then fights her way out through the ruined town, carrying her wounded superior back to the extraction point. The Yanibar Guard Fleet sends a shuttle down to extract the commandos and the spacestrikes go off as planned. It is only after her return to Yanibar that Slayn realizes that in her haste, she didn't realize that she called down the Strike on a skirmish between the Lortans and friendly partisans, wiping out both groups. Wracked by guilt and grief, Slayn succumbs to the negative emotions built inside her and takes her own life.
Behind the scenes
Iron Maiden was released in October 2008 as the fourth entry in the Yanibar Tales. At approximately 11,200 words long, it is below median length for the Yanibar Tales. Iron Maiden is one of several Yanibar Tales to be set between the prequel and original trilogies.
As with Thunderchief, Iron Maiden deviates from the traditional tone of Force Exile to deliver a harder, grittier story focused on the horrific aspects of war. It is also the first Force Exile work to be written in a first person narrative. This choice was deliberate and done for dramatic effect. The themes of Iron Maiden are duty, guilt, the horrors of war, and the importance of providing proper emotional and moral support for warfighters. The crux of the work deals with the stresses and pressures that a soldier in the field faces.
The ending of the story was not set in stone until shortly before it was written, when the author requested the opinion of a pair of users, Darth tom and Jedi Master 76 on the Star Wars Fanon Wiki IRC channel, albeit without telling them exactly what they were deciding. The planned alternate ending would have had Beblos intervene at the last page shortly before the resolution.
As is common in Force Exile stories, Atarumaster88 used a number of references to both canonical works and other media. The canonical comic X-wing: The Making of Baron Fel was a key source of information for the story, providing background information on the Lortan fanatics.
Outside of canon, Iron Maiden was influenced by the book Shooter, by decorated USMC sniper Jack Coughlin, as did the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare level "Ghillies in the Mist." As with Thunderchief, some aspects of Halo: Combat Evolved were incorporated into the idea of the Yanibar Guard's equipment. A dramatic monologue called "Soldier" written and performed by an acquaintance of the author, provided the basic premise of the short story. The title of Iron Maiden is actually more properly derived from the political term "Iron Lady", referring to a strong-willed female, particularly that of a female head of state, rather than that of the rock band or medieval torture device. The name of Om Sagnor is derived from "sanguine", a reddish-ochre color comparable to that of dried blood, as befitting a wartorn town.
Recognition and reception
Iron Maiden won "Best Action" in the inaugural 2009 Star Wars Fanon Short Story Contest and was nominated for featured work in October 2009. It achieved this status in July 2010 and was displayed on the main page in August 2010.
Notes and references