Second Guessed is a novella by Atarumaster88. It is within the Origins of the Exiles as part of the Force Exile Series. Second Guessed tells of the experiences of young Jedi Padawan Selu Kraen in 24 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.
Before the dark times and before the Empire, the Jedi Knights were guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy. Their presence sustained the Republic for centuries, but even they could not stop or foresee their own downfall. In the waning years of the Republic, Jedi, soldiers, and explorers strove to find their path, fought for causes dearly held, and discover themselves. Little did they know that these experiences would shape and try them to face the coming storm of exile—or worse. These are the origins of the exiles.
As the fires of Separatism smolder across the Republic in 24 BBY, Jedi Masters Plo Koon and Ylenic It'kla, along with their Padawans Selusda Kraen and Skip are sent to the watery world of Ando to investigate and stop a weapons smuggling ring that is supplying militants in the surrounding sector with arms. However, what they find there is a hotbed of intrigue, mystery, and double-dealing that may prove too much even for the vaunted Jedi.
The coordinates led them into the slums of Quantill City. The narrow streets were drab and the buildings a far cry from the functional yet still elegant embassy compound. Instead of a variety of local cultivars mounted in window boxes, they saw them piled with trash or overgrown with various fungi. The air reeked of refuse and waste, and low overhanging lines that crossed the street between roofs often had objects slung from their lengths dripping a liquid whose origins Selu cared not to contemplate. This was the dark side of Quantill City, the place where its least affluent denizens eked out a living and vice ran rampant. Every city had one; the only difference was how deteriorated conditions were allowed to decay. In this case, pretty far.
“We’re almost there,” Selu told Skip. “Get ready.”
“Okay,” Skip answered. “I sense someone tucked away in that alley.”
“I sense them too,” Selu replied. “Not Human.”
Jedi Masters Plo Koon and Ylenic It'kla are dispatched to the watery world of Ando to investigate and shut down a smuggling ring providing arms to Separatist militants. Having learned that the leader of the ring is an arms dealer named Ardo Romierr, the two Padawans explore the wharfs while their masters meet with Republic ambassador Aspec and his aide Daklan Burbage to discuss the waterways and suspected hideouts that Romierr is using. The two Padawans meet up with a cranky Aqualish captain named Barco Durpa, the more affable Sedrian captain Kolka Galleo, and the pickpocket Ylain during their time on the waterfront. They learn from Galleo that Romierr is known to visit the Crusted Clawclam cantina and they investigate. The bartender reveals that Romierr was there two nights earlier along with Barco Durpa and another human.
The two return to their masters to report their findings. In turn, they are told that the two masters are heading to Jaqard Strait with Daklan Burbage on a Judicial Forces boat the next day to investigate rumored smuggler's hideouts, and also learn that Burbage's datapad has gone missing. The two Padawans are instructed to check into Romierr's dealings at the wharf further. The next day, they find one of the regulars at the Crusted Clawclam and learn that one of the humans meeting with Romierr three nights earlier was described as similar to Daklan Burbage and had what appeared to be his missing datapad. They then warn their masters and obtain a trace on the missing datapad. Tracking it down, they find it in the possession of the street urchin Ylain. They question her and learn that she stole it off of a human two nights earlier, after said human had met with Barco Durpa to attack a boat that day. Realizing that their masters are in danger and with no way of contacting them due to interference in Jaqard Strait, Selu and Skip charter Captain Galleo's boat on a trip to Jaqard Strait to try and help. Before they can leave, Ylain finds them and reveals that there was no way that Burbage was the one meeting with Barco Durpa to attack the boat—he had been with her on that night. The description of the person she gives them matches Ambassador Aspec.
They head out on the water and reach the Judicial Forces boat just as Barco Durpa's ship attacks it. The Judicial Forces boat explodes, but while the masters and Burbage survive, they come under fire. Selu orders Skip and Galleo to take their ship over and rescue them while he distracts Durpa's crew. Selu manages to board Durpa's vessel, but his lightsaber malfunctions and he is imprisoned easily. Before Durpa kills him, however, the two masters and Skip arrive and subdue Durpa's crew. Both ships return to shore and the Jedi head to confront the ambassador, bringing Ylain with them as a witness. Confronted with his crimes, Ambassador Aspec takes his own life. However, news of the scandal reaches the public and incites anti-Republic riots on Ando. While the weapons ring is rounded up courtesy of information provided by Durpa's crew, the Jedi leave a world seething with discontent. En route back to Coruscant, they receive a call from Ardo Romierr, who is revealed to be Daklan Burbage. He thanks them for their aid in saving him from Aspec's double-cross and points out that while they stopped the weapons smuggling, he was able to escape and incite such disorder on Ando that the world might secede.
Behind the scenes
Second Guessed was released in August 2012 as the eighteenth entry in the Yanibar Tales. At approximately 16,400 words long, it is about median length for short stories in the Force Exile Series. Second Guessed is also one of only three Yanibar Tales to be set during the prequel movie timeframe. It, along with the other prequel movie-era stories, was moved to Origins of the Exiles in July 2020.
Second Guessed was written as the intended sequel to another novella, First Impressions, which was released three years prior. The long delay was due to Atarumaster88 wanting to focus on other short stories and the lack of a good outline and plot for the story. He knew it would be set on Ando after First Impressions but hadn't had a good idea for a plot aside from a general idea of wanting to involve the Separatist movement and smuggling, as well as develop the character of Skip more. He finally came up with a storyline he liked in August of 2012 and wrote the story over a period of about two weeks.
The final story included the mission to Ando referenced in First Impressions and was Atarumaster88's first foray into the mystery genre. Originally, Atarumaster88 did not intend for Daklan Burbage to be the same person as Ardo Romierr but included it shortly before he began writing to add a plot twist. He briefly considered trying to cameo R'hask Sei'lar or Jorgesoll Knrr in the story, but decided against it due to the difficulties of reconciling Selu's unfamiliarity with them in Force Exile I with his near-perfect memory. During the editing phase, several edits were made to clarify and streamline the timeline of events, as well as adjust the tone of the story. Atarumaster88 intended it to read similar to a crime-scene drama plot, rather than a hard-boiled detective story or film noir. In 2020, the story saw minor adjustments to the timeline as part of a larger reorganization of the early parts of the series and was moved to Origins of the Exiles.
As is typical with Force Exile Series works, Second Guessed has numerous references and homages contained within its prose. Many of these references are to other canonical Star Wars works. Skip's line of "In my experience, there's no such thing as luck" references Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope, while another encounter references Obi-Wan’s experience with an angry Aqualish in the same novel. The Sullustan bartender's sarcastic line about the purpose of his establishment is a nod to a similar exchange involving Han Solo in Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand. The four Jedi confronting Ambassador Aspec is intentionally parallel to the four Jedi confronting Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith.
Outside of canon, Selu's breaking of Ylain's finger after she pickpockets him is a reference to a similar occurrence in Artemis Fowl. The character and dialogue of Kolka Galleo was inspired heavily by certain nautical characters in the Redwall series and Castaway of the Flying Dutchman by Brian Jacques. The character of Ylain was somewhat a nod to the character of Selias in the first draft of JM76's Knight of Alderaan. Selu's and Skip's second exchange with Ylain is a take on the classic "good cop, bad cop" exchange.
Recognition and reception
Second Guessed was chosen as a featured work on 1 April 2013 after an 8-month nomination process. The successful nomination of Second Guessed marked author Atarumaster88's fourth featured work. It was featured on the Main Page in April 2013.
Notes and references
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