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I was a Rebel. When the Guard took me back, they had to shoot me down to do it. I never worked against the Rebellion and I never will.
—Hasla Almani[src]

Like her brother, Hasla Almani’s early life was largely a mystery, given the difficulty of finding accurate data on one of the trillions of displaced sentients during that era of turmoil. Her homeworld and familial lineage were unknown-recovered records seem to indicate that she herself did not know either of these. What was known was that she grew up in the slums of Darlyn Boda, Darlyn Boda, where her older brother Jahlel took care of her. They survived by begging, and apparently Hasla had some means of finding flimsi with which to record a crude journal. As both of the Arkanian children were mildly Force-sensitive, they were found and taken in by a group of Matukai Adepts, who brought them back to their enclave in Darlyn Boda’s wilderness. Hasla, a lonely child, was distrustful of the Matukai initially and made little headway in her training, unlike her brother, who excelled in their disciplined lifestyle. She found the regimen distasteful and despised her instructors.[1]

On one occasion, in her teens, she was chided by a particularly stern trainer and was incensed by it. Gathering a few small belongings, she fled back to the city of Darlyn Boda, but soon found it less than desirable as well. After several days of wandering the streets, hungry, displaced, and forced to fend off attackers, she was rescued by her brother, who had disobeyed Matukai regulations to retrieve her. Jahlel brought her back to the Matukai enclave, where she was soon transferred to his training group once he was recognized as a Matukai Adept. She progressed slowly in her training, but Jahlel encouraged her to persevere.[1]

One day, Jahlel returned from an errand to the city with a woman named Milya Tayrce, a Jedi Knight, who had come to urge the Matukai to join with several other groups of Force users. While the Matukai leader, Bolfwé Grysloth, considered her request, Milya was placed in Jahlel’s training group alongside Hasla and the two worked well together. However, when Milya felt Grysloth was taking too long to make a decision, she challenged him to a duel. Grysloth defeated Milya and Jahlel stepped in to defend her, only to be beaten down by Grysloth. Upon seeing her brother fall, Hasla rushed to his aid, but was also knocked aside by Grysloth. At that point, Milya revealed that none of the three of them could have stood against Grysloth alone-they only had a chance if they worked together, just as the Force users could only survive the oppression of the newly formed Galactic Empire if they joined together. Grysloth saw her point and ended the duel, agreeing to take the Matukai to join the other Force exiles.[2]

However, before they left, the Empire attacked the Matukai settlement. Hasla helped defend the enclave, hoping to buy time to escape, but the superior numbers and firepower of the Empire forced them back. Grysloth was slain by an Imperial Inquisitor and the rest of the Matukai began falling back to a ship which had arrived to evacuate them, flown by one of Milya’s companions, the Jedi Knight Selu Kraen. Hasla reached the ship safely, but her brother, Jahlel was gunned down by Imperial fire after saving Milya. Hasla was devastated, but one of the ship’s crewmembers, Spectre, kept her from running back to his body.[2]

Hasla later participated in the effort to take over the Imperial prototype ship Griffin, which was ultimately successful, and also helped defend Selu and his friends from Imperial attack on Commenor. As such, she was one of the few members of the Matukai to settle down on the world of Yanibar as part of the new community.[2] Under the training of one of the few remaining Matukai Adepts and out of respect for Jahlel’s memory, she eventually attained the rank of Matukai Adept and became one of the leaders in the Matukai community on Yanibar.[1] During this time, she also attended the wedding of Selu Kraen and Milya Tayrce as one of the bridesmaids.[3]

Hasla joined the Yanibar Elite Guardians in 7 BBY and quickly became one of its top members thanks to her renewed dedication to the Matukai ways. Her particular talents were piloting and undercover work; while she was trained in hand-to-hand fighting, her skill with the wan-shen was not what others possessed.[1] In 3 ABY, Hasla was dispatched to infiltrate the Rebellion as part of a Yanibar Guard Intelligence operation to acquire the Rebels' B-wing starfighter. She was successful in gaining admission into the Rebellion as a starfighter pilot, using the alias "Seirla Trasani." Over several months, Hasla was able to join a newly formed B-wing unit, Ice Squadron, and rapidly became recognized as one of its better pilots. Her skill in flying, previous training, and Force-sensitivity aided her in acquiring the necessary experience to handle the tricky B-wing fighter. Furthermore, her espionage training allowed her to steal the technical specifications and manufacturing processes for the B-wing and pass it on to the Yanibar Guard.[4]

However, Hasla soon came to see the Rebels as her friends. While stationed on Tierfon, she met several pilots of the elite Rogue Squadron. They admired her skill and invited her to join the unit, but she declined, feeling that Ice Squadron needed her more. That did not stop her from socializing with the Rogues on numerous occasions, especially with a handsome young Human pilot from Taanab named Wes Janson. Before she realized it, Hasla was falling for him even as she flew missions to Abridon and Bespin. In the latter engagement, Hasla helped devise a tactic to help the Rebels clear the defense platforms, and later in the battle, helped save a pair of civilians from Yanibar, Sarth and Cassi Kraen, from a group of TIE fighters after recognizing their ship. However, in the final stages of the conflict, she was shot down. She survived the crash and made her way to Bexpress Shipping, which was owned by two associates of YGI, Jorge and Annita Knrr. They took her in and gave her medical treatment for her minor injuries, but were less than pleased when Hasla announced her intention to return to the Rebellion. YGI had already given her a recall order weeks before, and Hasla had subtly ignored it. Annita and Jorge were more insistent, but Hasla's pleas convinced Sarth and Cassi Kraen to persuade Annita and Jorge to let Hasla return to the Rebels.[4]

Upon reuniting with Ice Squadron and the Rogues on Tierfon, Hasla continued to fly with the Rebels and spend time with Janson. Shortly thereafter, she and her squadron flew to rendezvous with the Rebel fleet at Sullust in preparation for a desperate assault on the Empire's new Death Star. After being briefed on the mission by the starfighter commander, General Lando Calrissian, Hasla was awarded with the Kalidor Crescent for her bravery. Hasla was not at all pleased to receive the award, though, knowing that she'd eventually be forced to leave the Rebellion and that her service to them was not entirely sincere due to her dual allegiance. Upset, she withdrew to her cockpit, which was where Janson found her. He consoled her and, unexpectedly, she confessed that she loved him. They spent the few hours before the Battle of Endor together.[4]

Hasla then participated in the assault on the Death Star, helping engage the Imperial fleet protecting the battle station. Once the shield protecting the Death Star was disabled, she flew her craft towards the reactor shaft. However, she chased by Imperial fighters, who badly damaged her fighter and injured her. Only the last-minute intervention of Wes Janson saved her. She was later recovered and sent back to a medical frigate for treatment. She was laid up for several days due to lack of medical supplies until a transport arrived with fresh supplies. It also brought Annita and Jorge Knrr, whom she met with briefly. Hasla soon learned that they'd arranged for her to escort their ship back to Bespin, ostensibly as part of a scouting run. Knowing that this meant her departure from the Rebellion, she left a message on a datapad for Janson.[4]

Sure enough, the escort mission was a lure, and her fighter was disabled. She was brought aboard the transport and returned to Yanibar, though Hasla was furious about the whole arrangement. In a discussion with Selu Kraen on Yanibar's orbital defense station, she made her feelings on the matter abundantly clear to Selu, who apologized, but said that bringing her back had been necessary for the colony. He also offered her a command of her own, but she was too irate to even consider the offer.[4]

Shortly thereafter, a Zann Consortium spy was discovered on the space station. The spy took Selu's daughter, Rhiannon Kraen hostage, and Hasla was one of the first people on the scene. She negotiated with the spy and offered to trade herself for the girl. That was distraction enough for Selu and Milya to arrive and subdue the spy. However, before captured, the location of Yanibar had been divulged to the Zann Consortium, along with information that the Yanibar Guard had been sabotaging them even though they were ostensibly doing business with them. With the knowledge that a Zannist fleet would soon be on its way to destroy Yanibar, Hasla had a change of heart and accepted the command Selu offered her.[4]

She flew in the Battle of Yanibar as Paladin Leader in command of a B-wing squadron. Her unit deployed a belt of space mines between the Zannists and the oncoming fleet and later participated in a full-scale assault. The space battle temporarily ended in a draw as both sides withdrew. In the end, the Zannists landed troops on the ground, but a boarding action by General Spectre Kraen and the elite commandos of Cresh Squad destroyed the flagship of the Zannists. The explosion took out most of the remaining fleet, and Hasla and the Paladins helped mop up the rest of the hostile forces, ending the threat to Yanibar.[4]

Hasla continued flying in Paladin Squadron after that, and it was quickly recognized as one of the Yanibar Guard's elite units. Her B-wing pilots were highly trained and, given that she had more flying hours and kills in the B-wing than any other Yanibar Guard pilot, Hasla became something of a legend in the Yanibar Guard Fleet. The Paladins were quickly recognized as the best B-wing unit in the entire YGF.[1]

In 7 ABY, Hasla and the Paladins were ordered to intercept a bacta convoy outbound from Thyferra. The former director of Imperial Intelligence, Ysanne Isard, had seized the bacta-producing world after unleashing a virus that affected non-humans. As Isard controlled the price, Hasla and her pilots were assigned to steal the bacta from the convoy, which was guarded by mercenaries. The Paladins intercepted the ships over the barren world of Polixi, but the mercenary fleet was stronger than expected. At that point, the elite New Republic X-wing unit Rogue Squadron arrived—they had been waging an independent war of their own against Isard. The two units quickly devastated the mercenaries, but they were left at a standoff, as both sides wanted the bacta freighter. Distrustful of each other, they were close to hostilities when Hasla made a personal plea to Rogue Leader, Wedge Antilles, to discuss the matter further.[5]

On a private channel, Hasla told Wedge of her true identity, which angered him, as he believed she was a traitor for leaving the Rebellion. His anger was painful for Hasla, as she'd never wanted to leave the Rogues. She told him that she'd had no choice and that her actions had been done for the greater good. She even offered to allow Wedge to kill her in exchange for the bacta. He ultimately chose not to kill her and let the Paladins have the bacta, believing Hasla, though he warned her to never cross his path again. He also said that he wouldn't cause Janson the pain of telling the truth about her. The Paladins then took the bacta freighter with the aid of a Yanibar Guard assault shuttle and departed.[5]

Hasla remained in command of Paladin Squadron for the next eight years, until 15 ABY. By that point, the Yanibar Guard Fleet had swelled to its full strength and the Paladins were its foremost squadron. She then opted to remain in the Yanibar Guard Fleet as a Captain, wearing her Elite Guardian tabs but fully incorporated into the fleet's hierarchy. Hasla received command of the Soresu-class Fleet Defender Shaak Ti, serving admirably in that role for the next five years. In 20 ABY, she was promoted to commodore and took command of the Secondary Fleet Aleph, though her flag was still on the Shaak Ti.[6]

In 19 ABY, Hasla also met a fellow Arkanian named Timor Cyrreso, a researcher who worked for a marine health company on Yanibar, while out walking her pet pittin. As Arkanians were rare on Yanibar, her curiosity was piqued and she began flirting with him. Her interest was returned and they began dating, though she was initially reluctant to reveal her high rank in the Yanibar Guard due to concerns that it would interfere with his perceptions. Her plan to slowly ease him into the knowledge of her rank was ruined when he was invited to speak as part of a panel on the effects of Yanibar Guard Fleet maritime operations on the health of the sealife. He was shocked to see her there in a commodore's uniform. The conflict nearly split their relationship, but they were able to overcome the incident. He asked her to marry him in 22 ABY and she accepted.[1]

She participated in the Saraswan Campaign of 23 ABY, again earning commendations for her role. At one point, the Shaak Ti and her accompanying vessels was beset by seven hostile Acclamator-class vessels, but Hasla's quick thinking allowed her to outmaneuver her opponents, lure them into an ambush above an asteroid field, and defeat them. Her performance earned her the rank of Admiral and command of the entire Yanibar Guard Fleet in 26 ABY, which also came with a seat on Yanibar's Ruling Council.[1]

Hasla's tenure as the chief of the navy was immediately beset with danger, as the extragalactic Yuuzhan Vong had invaded the galaxy the year prior. While initially the invasion was dismissed as a minor territorial incursion, the destruction of Ithor in 25 ABY proved that the invaders were a serious threat. Yanibar Guard Intelligence soon began funneling information on the Yuuzhan Vong and the tactics used by the New Republic to counter them and Hasla pushed for accelerated training exercises and the rapid adoption of countermeasures to the Yuuzhan Vong, such as stutterfire lasers and shield trios. After the Yuuzhan Vong swept into the Core, conquering Duro and Yag'Dhul, the Yanibar Guard Fleet was placed on high alert. Hasla did her best to maintain a calm composure, providing a steadying hand at a time when the galaxy seemed to be in a state of panic not seen since the reign of Palpatine.[1]

However, as the Yuuzhan Vong threat intensified, Hasla found herself somewhat marginalized as Master Selu Kraen began taking a more direct involvement in the daily operations of the military. Though she initially chafed, Hasla also recognized that his participation partly stemmed from a sense of concern for the greater refuge and so she tolerated it. Stricken with the Tastiged Flu at the time and thus technically on leave, she was miffed at being left out of the command loop when he dispatched and accompanied a substantial YGF task force to Ord Pardron to rescue a group of Yanibar relief workers under attack and even more so when that same task force was sent to Rishi to retrieve a group of Elite Guardians. Although still recovering from her illness, Hasla returned to duty and reported the disposition of the task force to the Ruling Council.[7] However, after Selu returned from Ord Pardron, he apologized and asked for her support in addressing the Ruling Council and she agreed to do so.[1]

At the council meeting, Hasla learned that Kraechar Arms had created a new weapon, the dark matter mass shadow mine, an interdiction weapon that could trap whole Yuuzhan Vong fleets in place. Upon learning of the desperate situation on Rishi, where the task force had been trapped, and hearing Elite Guardian Ryion Kraen's suggestion that luring the Yuuzhan Vong into a trap on Rishi and using the DMS mines against them, Hasla was supportive of intervention over Rishi. Given the betrayal and fall of another Elite Guardian, Ariada Cerulaen, Hasla was well aware that it was her fleet assets over Rishi and that the strategic advantage of the DMS mines would not last long. She suggested moving the meeting to a vote on the matter of intervention after having drafted a resolution to that effect. The resolution narrowly passed and Hasla personally took command of the relief fleet heading to Rishi. Though Master Kraen was technically in command as he was coming also, he deferred to her on most operations so as to not infringe on her command again.[7]

Arriving over Rishi, they found the Yanibar Guard task force under heavy assault from a massive Yuuzhan Vong Fleet. Given command by Selu before he went on a rescue mission to the crippled carrier Vigilant Refuge, Hasla rallied her ships and sped to their aid, punching through the Yuuzhan Vong ships in a massive battle. Both sides bloodied, they separated to recoup and take stock of the situation.[7]

During the respite, Hasla accompanied Selu down to the surface of Rishi to the newly-established YGA base there and met with their new erstwhile New Republic allies. One of them, Derek "Hobbie" Klivian, had flown with Rogue Squadron during the Galactic Civil War, and recognized her, but Selu would not tolerate his protestations, saying that fighting the Yuuzhan Vong was more important. Selu asked Klivian for his help and for assistance in contacting General Wedge Antilles to obtain tactical information on the Yuuzhan Vong. Klivian agreed, provided that Hasla answer some questions with Antilles about her whereabouts since the Galactic Civil War and her alleged "death." While on Rishi, Hasla also mourned the loss of Zeison Sha Master Daara, who had fallen in combat with the Yuuzhan Vong.[7]

The conversation was arranged and Antilles was less than pleased to see her, having not forgotten his promise to kill her. Selu intervened, taking the blame for her ostensible betrayal of the Rebellion and pointing out that they had a common enemy in the Yuuzhan Vong and that the Yanibar Guard had once saved the life of Chief of State Leia Solo. Selu offered to trade information and tactics for use against the Yuuzhan Vong. Hasla pointed out that she and the Yanibar Guard could repay the debt they owed to Antilles for his generosity with the bacta years earlier if they destroyed the Yuuzhan Vong Fleet over Rishi, a task which would be made easier with the exchange of information. Antilles begrudgingly agreed, though mostly out of his desire to keep Klivian alive.[7]

In the next engagement, Hasla sent some squadrons of fighters from space to help cover a sizable evacuation convoy, but otherwise the fighting was largely confined to groundside. Hasla also helped settle accusations from the Rishian government that the Yanibar Guard did not concern itself with the welfare of Rishi's populace while objecting to militarily insane suggestions they proposed.[7]

As the battle wound into its final stages, Selu and Hasla took the Yanibar Guard Fleet to attempt to break through the Yuuzhan Vong minefield surrounding Rishi and preventing escape. They lured a portion of the Yuuzhan Vong fleet into place and trapped them with DMS mines, but a substantial force remained over Rishi as the Yuuzhan Vong launched a massive ground assault. Selu sent some fighters and Shien-class frigates back to assist the ground force, while the rest of the fleet returned to Rishi, only to be ambushed by the remaining Yuuzhan Vong force, which had just been reinforced. Hasla took command of the fleet, fighting her way through the Yuuzhan Vong force.[7]

Just as the Yuuzhan Vong ships converged, Hasla activated a newly-constructed yammosk jammer, which had been built using information from the New Republic. The device disrupted the Yuuzhan Vong's coordination and the fleet's gravity well generators trapped the Yuuzhan Vong in place. Combined with Jedi battle meditation, Hasla's ships were able to smash the Yuuzhan Vong force. However, even as the surviving Yuuzhan Vong ships withdrew, Selu ordered the fleet moved to interdict the Yuuzhan Vong ships that had been trapped by the DMS mines. Ryion had boarded the trapped Yuuzhan Vong flagship and negotiated a truce that would allow the Yuuzhan Vong ships, even those that had been interdicted by the mines, to withdraw, while the Yanibar Guard also withdrew from Rishi after evacuating its people. Rishi ended in a bloody draw, with the Yanibar Guard having taken heavy losses and their secret DMS mine weapon not used to significantly alter the balance of power. However, the Yuuzhan Vong did not conquer the planet and took heavy losses of their own.[7]

After the truce was concluded, Hasla oversaw the fleet operations that evacuated all Yanibar Guard personnel from Rishi and then laid a ring of DMS mines around it to protect it from further assault. The Yanibar Guard returned to Yanibar to find that their world had not only been found by the Yuuzhan Vong thanks to Ariada's duplicity, but also sabotaged by a Yuuzhan Vong creature that had altered the orbit of one of its moons, destabilizing it. They also learned from Milya and Cassi Kraen of a new sanctuary world far beyond known space.[7] Faced with the devastation of Yanibar, Hasla began reforming the Yanibar Guard Fleet to prepare for imminent evacuation even as Yanibar withdrew almost completely from galactic affairs to deal with this new crisis.[1]

Hasla continued to serve as the head of the Yanibar Guard Fleet through the next ten years, as at 80 years old in 30 ABY she was not yet considered truly old for an Arkanian. However, she did promise to transition out of the role after the Yanibar refuge evacuated to Atlaradis and settled in. She oversaw the introduction of new ship classes to the Yanibar Guard Fleet to replace vessels that were now dated and aging.[1] In 38 ABY, as the time for evacuation drew near, the Yanibar refuge was offered assistance with the technical issues plaguing their evacuation ships by the Yuuzhan Vong. Hasla was extremely skeptical of the offer and was not in favor of it, but the rest of the Council overruled it after debating the matter. As such, Hasla helped put together an escort package to bring the Yuuzhan Vong ship to the Yanibar system safely and discreetly.[8]

When Selu and Milya Kraen fell stopping a fallen Elite Guardian named Ariada Cerulaen, Hasla became the new head of the Yanibar Guard. She attended their funeral service onboard the Yanibar Guard flagship Lightbearer shortly before the final exodus was completed. Once the ceremonies were complete, she led the mass evacuation fleet that took the Force exiles to their new home of Atlaradis.[8]


Behind the scenes

As with Jahlel Almani, Hasla Almani's Arkanian heritage are an homage to the canonical character Jarael. She was conceived in later phases in the writing of Force Exile III: Liberator when the author was contemplating killing Jahlel Almani in battle against the Empire. When the decision was in fact made to kill Jahlel, Hasla was chosen to remain alive as part of a Matukai remnant. Her own backstory was not formulated until the writing of her Essential Guide to Force Exile entry, and she has only a brief mention in Hand to Hand. The image used to depict Hasla is that of canonical character Zadawi. Very little was changed of Hasla's character or plot arc when Liberator was rewritten.

Hasla's role in Force Exile IV was influenced by the canonical story of another infiltrator in an X-wing unit, Lara Notsil. The character's emotional dynamic largely revolved around her dual allegiance to both the Rebellion and the Yanibar Guard. Hasla's story also allowed Guardian to incorporate part of the Galactic Civil War from the standpoint of the Rebel Alliance. Hasla's history with the Rebellion was expanded upon and finally resolved in Rogues and Paladins with her confrontation with Wedge Antilles, as well as her revelation of her survival. She did not originally play such a large role in Force Exile IV in the initial outlines, but author Atarumaster88 found her storyline intriguing and expanded it. He also was originally uncertain whether or not Hasla would survive the novel. Ultimately, she did, and went on to take the role of protagonist in the follow-on story Rogues and Paladins. Hasla was not supposed to be in that story at all—Atarumaster88 had originally planned to introduce a new character to lead Paladin Squadron. That concept was nixed after Hasla's role was expanded in Guardian so as to allow Hasla to appear once more as a recurring character and to utilize the dramatic potential of her history with Rogue Squadron.

Later, Atarumaster88 opted to bring her character back for Force Exile V: Warrior, albeit in a reduced role. The influence for transitioning Hasla from a frontline fighter pilot to a fleet commander was the similar career path of canonical character Wedge Antilles. Warrior saw Hasla once more meet up with Antilles, finally resolving their longstanding grudge. She had a few brief appearances in Force Exile VI: Prodigal, though her role was lessened early in the novel as Atarumaster88 felt she would not mesh well with the desired tension between Selu and the Council, particularly as she had been in his shoes before. Instead, she was sidelined, only to take up a leadership role later as the head of the Yanibar Guard at the time of its departure to Atlaradis.

Appearances

References

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