Nine Riders is a novella by Atarumaster88. It is within the Yanibar Tales as part of the Force Exile Series. Nine Riders follows the continuing story of the elite Yanibar Guard unit Cresh Squad in 27 ABY.
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.
In 27 ABY, Yanibar Guard Army Lieutenant Ashli Tar-sonis, normally an analyst, joins the renowned Cresh Squad on a perilous mission deep behind enemy lines to rescue a captured ally from a deadly enemy. Tar-sonis is no commando, though, and her own anxiety threatens to render her paralyzed at the worst possible time. She and her companions must overcome overwhelming odds if they are to complete their mission and escape.
Tar-sonis and Colonel Knrr found cover behind a decent-sized rock. Popping up, Tar-sonis pumped the trigger on her carbine, spraying fire at a Yuuzhan Vong warrior a mere fifty meters away. The weapon cycled down to empty and she dropped back to eject the spent power pack and slot a new one in. Beside her, Colonel Knrr was in constant fluid motion, rising to let loose a short, controlled burst from his rifle, then ducking back before the inevitable hail of bug weapons found him.
Tar-sonis rose again, loosing another trio of bolts at a Yuuzhan Vong warrior. As she did so, she was dismayed to notice another twenty or so moving up to flank the commandos. A chill ran down her spine. They were doomed, cut off by a superior force. She looked around worriedly, not sure what to do. She had to do something. Wait—that was it. An idea sparked into her mind and she seized it, whether it was right or not. The colonel, she had to tell the colonel. Somehow, despite fumbling over her words, she managed to shout a warning.
- Lieutenant Ashli Tar-sonis, Yanibar Guard Army
- Colonel Bryndar Knrr, Yanibar Guard Army
- Elite Daara Sherum, Yanibar Elite Guardians
- Located at Nine Riders
In 27 ABY, the elite Yanibar Guard Army unit Cresh Squad, accompanied by YGA analyst Ashli Tar-sonis, embarks on a hazardous rescue mission to Leritor, a world held by the alien invaders that have been ravaging the galaxy. As something of an expert on Yuuzhan Vong language, culture, and weapons, Tar-sonis's skills are reason enough to bring her on the mission, but she is heavily outclassed by the commandos as a soldier, and is gripped by anxiety. Landing stolen Yuuzhan Vong coralskipper starfighters, the commandos burst out and begin fighting their way towards the prisoners they have come to rescue.
Tar-sonis proves to be more of an impediment than a help and her amateur mistakes and lack of skill irritate the other commandos. As the squad encounters increasingly heavy opposition, it is clear that they will not be able to fight their way to rescue the prisoner. Finally overcoming her fear, Tar-sonis suggests that Cresh Lead challenge the Yuuzhan Vong commander to a duel. He does so, fighting in a brutal hand-to-hand contest that is ultimately decided by a discreet shot from Cresh Squad's sniper. The Yuuzhan Vong have brought out Daara Sherum, the prisoner they have come to rescue, as a prize, and the Yanibar Guard is able to free her in the ensuing fray. Fleeing the horde of angry Yuuzhan Vong, they are extracted by the Yanibar Guard-allied Jalsinnare mercenaries and escape Leritor.
Behind the scenes
Nine Riders was released in July 2010 as the thirteenth entry in the Yanibar Tales. At approximately 11,200 words long, it is below median length for the Yanibar Tales. Nine Riders is one of the first of the Yanibar Tales to be set in the New Jedi Order era.
Nine Riders came into being after Atarumaster88 wanted to write a story as a prequel to the New Jedi Order-centric Force Exile V: Warrior. He decided to center it around Cresh Squad after realizing how central the unit was becoming to his fiction. Nine Riders also helped introduce Bryndar Knrr as the leader of Cresh Squad; while his previous affiliation with the Yanibar Guard had been established, Atarumaster88 wanted to transition to his role in Force Exile V. The story also provided Atarumaster88 with an opportunity to introduce the Jalsinnare warriors, a mercenary unit that had previously only been alluded in Champion of Yanibar.
In writing the character of Ashli Tar-sonis, Atarumaster88 chose to explore the idea of a new recruit being thrust into a challenging combat environment. Tar-sonis's personality was crafted around her performance anxiety, with that attribute largely defining her reactions until she overcame her own fear. Atarumaster88 considered writing the story using first-person narrative, but ultimately rejected that since Ashli's limited point of view would not allow him to write engaging action due to her inexperience and terror.
As is common in Force Exile stories, Atarumaster88 used a number of references to both canonical works and other media. The New Jedi Order series and their descriptions of Yuuzhan Vong warriors, biotechnology, and culture were a heavy influence on the writing. Corran Horn's ill-fated duel on Ithor in the Dark Tide duology was directly referenced. Colonel Knrr's retort about giving his heart to a woman years ago is another reference to Horn's duel. The commonly-featured Star Wars phrase "I have a bad feeling about this" makes yet another appearance. The description of Tar-sonis's performance anxiety also drew from similar descriptions of Kell Tainer in Wraith Squadron.
Outside of canon, the Jalsinnare were inspired by descriptions of powered armor infantry in the Starcraft and Battletech franchises. The title of Nine Riders is itself a reference to the nine Black Riders in Lord of the Rings. Tar-sonis's name is also a reference to both the names of Numenorean kings in Lord of the Rings as well as the planet Tarsonis in Starcraft.
Recognition and reception
Nine Riders currently has no awards or featured work status.
Notes and references
|Force Exile Series|