The stories behind the stories

Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith Part 6: Sentinel

“I think… I might have ruined my life.” — Jelph Marrian

Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith Part 6: Sentinel

My sixth Star Wars eBook for Del Rey, in which a daughter of the Sith faces a momentous choice…
Published by Random House/Del Rey • February 21, 2011
Written by John Jackson Miller

Cover by Dave Stevenson

Edited by Shelly Shapiro

The idea of a Jedi/Sith romance may seem unthinkable on its merits. Impossible, right? Yes, and no. The philosophies may be antithetical, but people are more than the collections of beliefs they adhere to — and few are perfect in their adherence. In reality, we’d find some Jedi following to the rules better than others  — and we’d find all of the Sith interpreting teachings in their own ways, just on general principle.

Would purists even survive their first conversation? Almost certainly not — the tension between Jedi selflessness and Sith utilitarianism would end most blind dates pretty quickly. But Ori is not a very good Sith and Jelph is not a very good Jedi, and the story knows that. And now more than any other time, they’re questioning the paths they were on in their previous lives.

While there were story reasons for not dwelling on the aftermath of the fall of the Covenant during the Knights of the Old Republic comics series, I had always felt there was more to say someplace. Lucien may have been duped by Haazen, but the footsoldiers in the Covenant might not have found that out at all. There would still be believers out there, wondering what the heck had happened: Jelph was one. And yet, the sectarian divisions in the Jedi Order must have contributed to the Jedi Civil War. By setting the story as we did, Jelph was allowed to fast-forward and see the bitter fruits of those divisions.

On Ori’s side of the equation, we already know what a raw deal it is to follow the Sith ways on Kesh; Jelph puts a fine point on it for her in this story. They can’t all win. And we hear what the Sith know about the Jedi now: not much, and not much that’s accurate. They’re the boogeymen. But the reference to the Republic being a tool of the Jedi hits close to home, given how Jelph’s organization was playing the Republic.

It all adds up to both Ori and Jelph feeling freed from their past allegiances; each cut off from their former communities, they’re able to find a third way. Are they kidding themselves that they can exist on their own? Maybe. But Purgatory/Sentinel provides some momentary hope in the middle of what is a fairly dark series — and perhaps false hope is the best you can get on Kesh.

And going back to our elemental themes, we get the power of manure for real in this episode: Jelph, as an offworlder, has an understanding of chemistry and how to make explosives from fertilizer. There wasn’t any way Jelph wasn’t going to booby-trap his strikefighter — but what he’s built here is a heck of a Lojack!

“Sounds like you met a woman.” — Unidentified Keshiri Bartender

It was tempting to make Jelph’s lightsaber yellow, given the name of this story and the connection between the Sentinels of the game and yellow lightsabers. But a blue lightsaber made for a better contrast with the red ones that Ori had known, and I thought of him as starting out much more in Lucien’s Guardian role.

We don’t hear a lot about bad weather on Kesh, but it clearly rains a lot in the jungle uplands. We hear about “monsoon rains” in this episode.

I love that the Sith hauled all the animals out of the zoo and killed them for sport. Not much of a tourism bureau in Tahv…

I’ve written combats in a number of different settings, but the elevated-aqueduct fight is one I’d love to see drawn or otherwise depicted some day.

Jelph’s macrobinoculars were another high-tech artifact that wouldn’t survive for the Sith to find them. (Fortunately, the Keshiri are pretty good at optical devices, given their work with glass.)

“The Confidence of the Dead End” is something that comes back again in Sentinel, when the entire area at the end of the road falls in after the bomb goes off.

We don’t learn who the admiral was that Jelph heard the warning from. But it’s clear what’s going on, back home. (It’s possible, given later events in KOTOR: War and his mention in the Knight Errant novel, that it’s Dallan Morvis.)

One of the more fun Wookieepedia entries focuses on the Unidentfied Keshiri Bartender that serves Jelph. When I did revisions on the story for the prose collection, I thought seriously about giving the dude a name — but why spoil the fun? (If pressed, I’d suggest Yukaybee, which would sound out the acronym of his Wookieepedia name!)

The original eBook included a preview of Aaron Allston‘s novel, Fate of the Jedi: Conviction.