Thunderchief is a novella by Atarumaster88. It is within the Yanibar Tales as part of the Force Exile Series. Thunderchief introduces a new cast of characters into the newly-formed Yanibar Guard three years after Force Exile III: Liberator
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 12 BBY, it is a crucial time for the inhabitants of the Yanibar refuge. Three years into their existence, a burgeoning force of brave defenders has arisen, dubbed the Yanibar Guard and tasked with the defense of the colony. But with their accomplished leaders away on an important mission, it is up to the untested handful to stand firm when the fragile existence of the refuge is threatened.
Pec Deplisk stared out across the vista, taking in the sights as Yanibar’s sun began peeping over the steep mountain peaks that ringed the Tusloni Basin, where the three-year-old nascent Yanibar settlement was located. The sky was streaked with reds and oranges as the sunbeams chased away the darkness of night. The distant cliffs glinted coppery, with a dazzling light shining off those tall enough to have snowcaps. The jagged outline of the horizon was traced in gold as the sun began shining over Yanibar once more, a promise of another day. A few scattered clouds intercepted them, their edges glowing from the radiance of the morning. He breathed in the morning air, reveling in the tranquility and stillness of the moment. A bird or two chirped in the distance and a gentle breeze rustled the folds of his clothing and brushed across the top of his bare scalp and cranial horns. His tanned and weathered skin tingled as the breeze reached it, but his gray-eyed gaze never wavered. As he looked around slowly, he felt drawn into his surroundings, almost part of the nature surrounding him. A tall and strong Zabrak, he was still young enough to feel captivated by the beauty of the sunrise, but old enough to have a more mature viewpoint instead of just hurrying through it. About twenty-six years of age, Pec enjoyed nothing more than the sunrise, in basking in dawn’s first rays. Standing there for some time, he drank in the picturesque beauty of the scene unfolding before his mind returned him to the doldrums of reality. Not that what Pec Deplisk did for a living could be considered boring to most people.
- Sergeant Pec Deplisk, Yanibar Guard Army
- Located at Thunderchief
In 14 BBY, with most of the Yanibar Guard away on a secret mission, it falls to Sergeant Pec Deplisk and Cresh Squad to defend the world from an incursion of Blue Star pirates. Using their new advanced armor and weaponry, Cresh Squad approaches the pirate encampment on foot. The squad notices a group of slaves being mistreated by their captors. Unable to stomach watching the abuse, Sergeant Deplisk and Specialist Feran Slayn sneak into the camp and free several of the slaves after designating the pirate ships as targets for an airstrike. Though their orders are to remain concealed, they can’t just watch helplessly, nor condemn the slaves to die as collateral damage from the impending airstrike.
They free some of the slaves, but are informed that more remain in one of the pirate ships. Deplisk sends the rest of the soldiers to rescue them while he creates a diversion. Opening fire, Deplisk draws the attention of the pirate camp while his squadmates free the rest of the slaves. The slaves are freed, but Deplisk perishes in the attempt, just as the airstrike arrives and demolishes the pirate force. His sacrifice, the first combat fatality in the Yanibar Guard, is honored at a military funeral presided over by the leaders of the Yanibar Guard.
Behind the scenes
Thunderchief was released in August 2008 as the first entry in the Yanibar Tales. At approximately 14,000 words long, it is about average length for the Yanibar Tales. Like many of the Yanibar Tales, Thunderchief is set between the prequel and original Star Wars movie trilogies.
The short story intentionally departed from traditional Force Exile elements and characters, to deliver a gritty story focused more on the aspects of war. As such, its major themes are the ideas of duty, the horrors of war, sacrifice, and honor, all themes commonly associated with the military. In the first outline of the story, Deplisk was a sniper, but the author felt that the idea of a scout worked better.
As is typical with Force Exile Series works, Crossroads has numerous references and homages contained within its prose. Many of these references are to other canonical Star Wars works. The range of 1,138 meters referenced by Slayn is another 1138 reference. Thunderchief was also influenced by canonical works such as Shatterpoint and Equipment which covered similar characterization and themes.
The book Shooter, by decorated USMC sniper Jack Coughlin, also influenced Thunderchief, as did the televisions series The Unit. The character of Pec Deplisk was originally supposed to be a younger soldier who ultimately survived. After that was changed, he was single until final editing added in the character of Hespa. Deplisk was partially inspired by Robert Epps, played by Tyrese Gibson, in the movie Transformers.
Outside of Star Wars references, the title of Thunderchief in-universe comes from Deplisk's nickname of "Chief" and the "thunder and lightning" of the airstrike. The latter element is another reference to Transformers, where air strikes were referred to as "rain". Out of universe, it refers to the USAF fighter F-105 Thunderchief. The term "lady sniper" is an homage to the television series Flashpoint. The name of Arc Leyt for the Cresh Squad demolitions specialist was inspired by the fictional company "Arclite" in Starcraft, which produces Siege Tanks. The rank of specialist for the sniper, Slayn, was inspired by Starcraft as well, where Ghosts are ranked as specialists. The battlesuit designation B52-A was inspired by the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. In-universe, it stands for Battlesuit, Armor Rating 5, Sensor Rating 2, Model A. The rating of 5 marks it as the highest rated suit in the Yanibar Guard at the time. The last line in the story is a direct reference to John 15:13.
Recognition and reception
Thunderchief currently has no awards or featured work status.
Notes and references
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