The stories behind the stories

Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith Part 8: Secrets

“This isn’t the end. This isn’t the end!” — Varner Hilts

Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith Part 8: Secrets

The finale of the ebook stories for Del Rey finds Varner Hilts running for his life…
Published by Random House/Del Rey • March 5, 2012
Written by John Jackson Miller

Cover by Dave Stevenson

Edited by Shelly Shapiro

The collected edition and its planned additional novella had already been announced by the writing of Secrets, and so this final story needed to perform a couple of purposes beyond entertainment. For those who only intended to follow the e-book series, we needed a reasonably satisfying conclusion. But we also wanted to encourage people to check out the collected edition, and so we set up the material to come.

While described as “countless,” I never really felt that the Keshiri citizens of the continent the Sith were on constituted the whole population of the planet. The Keshiri’s horizons were limited by natural barriers, and by the lack of raw materials sufficiently strong to traverse the planets’ rough seas. The simple answer was that there was much on the map that was beyond reach — and whenever there’s a “here there be dragons” notation on a map, that’s something that someone’s going to take as a challenge. The Sith, especially so. The Sith would have known enough geometry to know that their realm was only a fraction of the planet, but the early days were about consolidating power, and the intervening ones were about fighting for it. The Tribe had thus gone without its Age of Exploration. Korsin, in sparking one from beyond the grave, hoped to trigger a Renaissance, as well, or the Tribe’s equivalent. His hopes would have come to nothing, had it not been for the Caretaker.

The final Lost Tribe free e-book is in some respects my nod to Robert Graves, and his story of Claudius, the scholar emperor. Power was pretty much the last thing Claudius wanted — and that Varner Hilts expected at his stage of life. But the Sith are nothing if not utilitarian, and Hilts knew the right things at the right time. First, what he knew was worthless; then, he was priceless. It’s all about timing the market!

Hilts’s alliance with Iliana put a new twist on relationships as seen in the series. Sith relationships are always a mess, given all the conflicting selfish wants on either side. But Hilts and Iliana begin as two people with mutually complementary needs, more or less — survival. How stable Hilts’s solution will be for the long term, only time will tell.

I very much liked writing the ebook short story series, and hope to do more in the future. The stories were nicely sized — taking about as much time in my schedule as the scripting (though not the plotting) of a typical 22-page comic book — and the release tempo of the stories meant that each time I returned to them I’d had a lot more time to think about the Tribe and their world.

“All hail Varner Hilts — the new Grand Lord!”

The fates of Hilts’s parents tell us all we would need to know about his chances, had he gone after power the same way everyone else on Kesh does. He’s lucky he gave up when he did!

We had not mentioned Keshtah as the name of the continent before, but it’ll be dropped into earlier chapters in the Collected Edition, which in a sense the second final draft of these stories.

Seelah’s Tapani commitment band, we may assume, is one of Korsin’s artifacts given him by his mother.

I had to look up what might be left of a skeleton after two thousand years in a dry, cool place. The joys of the job…

It was important to show Hilts’s jealousy when Jaye’s life’s research was confirmed as true; as wise as he might seem compared to the others, he was still raised in a Sith culture. Others’ good fortune would always inspire at least a few conflicting emotions.

For the purposes of this story, I used the Sith temple as depicted on the cover of Savior as my guide. The large observation towers can be seen towering over the temple which holds Omen, at left; the small cupola is in the middle of the roof. The columns are part of the colonnade. So the cover art did work its way back into the stories!

We had described it as being cold on the mountaintop in the first story; this is one of several reasons why Korsin wanted to move everyone.

The original eBook included a preview of Troy Denning’s novel, Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse, the finale of that novel series.